Spare tire, love handles, muffin top, pot belly…all somewhat comical terms for belly fat. Most people don’t like having that extra flab around their midsections, but we tend to just put up with it. Most of us have tried some diet or bought a video teaching us how to do a perfect crunch. But there is too much conflicting advice out there, and besides, we’ve failed in the past so there’s no guarantee we’ll succeed anyway.
Take heart, there is a truly effective strategy to lose belly fat, but you may have to loosen up some old preconceptions. Please note that in this article I am specifically talking about fat loss as opposed to overall weight loss (fat, muscle & water).
The strategy involves both diet and exercise – nothing new there. However, it entails 2 unique ways of going about it.
The Diet – Become a Fat/Protein-Burner
Low-carbohydrate nutrition is one of the most-effective ways of shedding pounds of fat from the body.
Basically, the body burns energy in the following order:
- Carbohydrate (from food and stored glycogen)
- Fat (from food and bodyfat)
- Protein (from food and muscle tissue)
If you eat what most government guidelines recommend you eat, you are a carb-burner. It then becomes obvious that in order to become a fat-burner, you should reduce the current primary energy source i.e. carbohydrate.
When you do this, your body takes a few days to flip a ‘metabolic switch’ and become a fat-burning machine. At that point, the fat you eat gets consumed first, and then you start burning away bodyfat as your primary source of energy. Obviously, you don’t therefore consume copious amounts of fat, and you don’t need to go zero carb to benefit. Anything under 100 grams of carbs a day is considered ‘low-carb’, but ideally under 60 grams would produce great results.
On low-fat diets (which by nature are high-carb diets), when your ‘food calories’ are gone, the body will burn a mixture of both fat and muscle tissue (protein). As muscle is ‘metabolically active’ — it burns calories all day long just by being there — losing it is a disaster for the dieter. Their metabolism will continually slow down over time.
This is one of the main reasons why low-fat diets very often produce temporary results: you lose weight for a while, but then it stops working (as your metabolism has crashed) and you pile it back on – and then some!
Low-carb diet works for many people but it might not be for everyone. The key is always to see which one works for you best. Nevertheless, the above suggestion and explanation hopefully can provide you a new perspective and approach to get rid of your belly fat. Just give it a try and listen to your body’s reaction!
The Exercise – Cardio or Interval Training?
Loads and loads of cardio, right? Wrong.
Overdoing cardiovascular exercise will also put your body in a state where it breaks down lean muscle tissue (catabolism). So the question is, how do we complement our fat-burning nutritional strategy with fat-burning exercise.
It’s called ‘Interval Training’, or more specifically ‘High Intensity Interval Training’. The idea is to perform some sort of cardio in ‘fits and starts’ i.e. a period of lower intensity followed by a period of higher intensity.
Research shows that this type of work burns more fat than steady-state cardio, typically by about 50%. In fact, one study showed a 9 fold increase in fat loss  for HIIT compared to low-medium intensity cardio.
Also, with respect to belly fat in particular, research has shown (though the reason is not clear at this time) that HIIT can produce more fat loss in this area than other parts of the body. An Australian study found that the HIIT group lost 3 times more fat and significantly more belly fat than the steady-state cardio group who actually exercised for twice as long!
The even better news is that HIIT need only be performed for 10-20 minutes at a time.
Hopefully you can see that these unique approaches to diet and nutrition will work synergistically to produce truly effective fat-loss:
- Get your body to burn fat for energy.
- Then add exercise that will utilize the most fat possible.
There’s obviously more to talk about on this topic, but a single post doesn’t permit me to get into it all. I hope you enjoyed it and if nothing else, you feel inspired to find any weight-loss program that you feel you can work with to bring permanent results.