The number one reason men and women still have unwanted belly fat is because they aren’t on an effective fat loss routine. You know, like one that actually gets results. No results, no motivation, right?
So, what is the best way to get the kind of results you can actually see in the mirror and keep you motivated to stay on track.
After years of trial and error, here is my list of the 5 best ways to lose belly fat.
1. Get in the Fat Burning Zone
Getting in the Fat Burning Zone means exercising at an intensity and/or duration that actually burns fat. To do this, you have to get your heart rate into a target range that forces your body to burn fat as a source of fuel. Your belly fat burning target heart rate is based on your age. If your exercise routine is not intense enough, you won’t lose your belly fat.
Intensity is only half of the story. Duration is also a factor. To really lose belly fat you may need to exercise everyday for up to an hour or more, depending on what intensity you are working out at.
Listed here are some exercises to give you an idea of the intensity level you need.
Best Intensity Exercises:
- Stair Master (600 calories/hour)
- Elliptical (600 calories/hour)
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) (800 calories/hr)
Best Duration Exercises:
- Power Walking (450 calories/hr)
- Swimming (550 calories/hr)
- Biking (300 calories/hr)
2. Create a Caloric Deficit
Creating a caloric deficit means cutting your calories below your resting metabolic rate (a.k.a. RMR). This is the amount of calories your body needs at rest. For example, a person could have an RMR of 1800 calories a day, so if they eat 1700 calories a day, their body will dip into its fat reserve and burn 100 calories to maintain RMR.
After only a few days of maintaining a caloric deficit, you will start to see an improvement in your waist line. Keep this up over several weeks and you will notice the pounds disappearing.
Best Low Calorie Foods:
- Plain Greek Yogurt
- Green Beans, Refried Beans
- Celery, Carrots, Cucumbers
- Turkey Breast
Just remember to also factor in the calories you burn each day by exercising. For example, you may eat 1700 calories, but burn an additional 500 by exercising – so now you are down to 1200 calories. Every individual has different caloric needs, so make sure you don’t cut your calories too low.
3. Eat Foods That Help Burn Fat
Limiting your caloric intake means that now you have to carefully choose what to eat. You will need foods that satisfy your appetite and provide nutrients. Empty calories such as sugars and processed foods are not going to give you sustained energy or nutrients. You will notice that even though you ate, let’s say 1500 calories, you are still going to be hungry and probably tired. Instead, you want to choose foods that not only keep you full, but also actually help you burn fat quickly.
Best Fat Burning Foods:
- Green Tea
- Red Peppers
4. Manage Food Cues and Cravings
Working out and cutting calories is going to initially amplify your thoughts of food, and this is where most people fall off the wagon. During the day, you’ll see others eating unhealthy food, or you will crave your favorite “pick me up” foods such as sugar-packed coffee and pastries, or maybe it’s chips and soda (you get the point).
The key is to anticipate these cues and cravings and find quick and easy substitutes that can give you a boost. Green tea and a small piece of dark chocolate could get you through the worse cravings. Nuts and a small amount of fruit is also a good choice. If you must have a donut, cut it in half, and share it with a friend. Just don’t do this too often, or you’ll still hang onto that belly fat.
Best Tips to Fight Cues and Craving:
- Don’t hover around the desert table.
- Use small plates and limit desert size.
- Pack healthy snacks.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Get support from others who are eating healthy.
- Keep junk food out of sight.
5. Get Some Sleep
Staying up and worrying about problems or distracting yourself with a late night movie can ruin your chances of getting a good night sleep. No sleep means no energy for working out. Lack of sleep can also lead to food cravings. Your body is pulling at straws, trying to find that quick boost of energy it needs to make it through the day. Usually, these craving are for sugars and salts.
Sleep is also needed for muscle repair after working out. Furthermore, sleep can also improve mood which leads to a positive attitude toward losing weight.
Best Tips for Falling Asleep:
- Turn the TV off.
- Read a text book.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Forget about work.
- Close your eyes even if you don’t feel sleepy.
- Remember your problems can wait.
To recap, the best way to lose belly fat is to increase the intensity and duration of your exercises so you are actually in the fat burning zone. Create a caloric deficit and choose foods packed with nutrients that keep you full and help you burn fat. Fight off and avoid food cues and cravings by coming up with healthy food substitutes. Sleep is also very important. Make sure to rest up, so you have enough energy to exercise. Sleep also helps reduce food cravings.
As always check with your doctor before starting any exercise or diet plan.
Lastly, consistency is the key. If you want to see immediate results, stay on this plan for at least two weeks before you give up. That means exercising daily for at least an hour, and sticking to the diet plan. Once you’ve given it two weeks, you will not want to stop. Plus, you’ll shrink your belly in no time!
Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com