The other day I was in my private Facebook group, and I asked my ladies to share what their top concerns were about working out and eating healthy.
One of the responses I got was:
“How to get rid of belly fat. I’ve lost 60 pounds but THE BELLY WON’T GO.”
Belly fat is a common problem for a lot of women.
Seriously, WHY is it so hard to get rid of???
I first want to point out a couple of things before we dig into how to get rid of belly fat.
1. You CANNOT spot treat your belly fat.
Your belly fat will not disappear simply by doing 100 crunches a day. It doesn’t work like that. We need to decrease your overall body fat percentage to get rid of the belly.
2. It is not “healthy” or normal for a woman to have a six-pack.
I am so sick of seeing fitspo that shows “fit girls” working out showing off their six-pack abs. There’s nothing wrong with having a six-pack…if it’s easy for you to maintain and you feel great being that lean…than more power to you! But for most women, it is not natural and in my opinion not healthy to be that lean. We are meant to have a little body fat and there is NOTHING wrong with that.
Now that I’ve gotten those 2 things off my chest, let’s dig into what we can do to decrease belly fat. Diet, movement, and lifestyle are all factors that we need to consider.
Here are 4 steps to getting rid of stubborn belly fat:
1. Eat foods that will nourish your body.
I want to keep this simple and easy to understand. If you want to lose fat and MAINTAIN your fat loss, it is a must to eat a primarily whole foods diet. What do I mean by whole foods?
Lean organic/pasture raised meats, all the veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. Here is a detailed list:
Grass-fed ground beef
Pasture raised chicken
Wild-caught salmon, cod, tuna
Cottage cheese, greek yogurt
Vegetables (e.g., collards, onion, chard, broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, kale, celery, bok choy, beets, watercress, lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, etc.)
Beans and legumes
Sprouted whole grain breads and pastas
Coconut oil & butter
Olives and olive oil
Nuts (macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almost, etc.)
Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds
If you want to lose belly fat is is also very important to limit eating sugar, excess grains, processed foods, and juice & soda. If you do have a craving for something sweet, opt to eat it during the 2 hour window post-exercise.
Not only will eating whole foods help you lose belly fat, it will also increase your satiety after meals (therefore decreasing your appetite), increase your energy levels, help improve digestion, and promote better health overall by increasing nutrient status and preventing disease.
Use this simple infographic to help determine how much and how often you should be eating:
2. Move your body every day.
Movement is such an important factor when it comes to exercise. If you aren’t working out regularly, try incorporating just FIVE MINUTES a day of activity. It can be anything from walking, lifting weights, dancing…whatever you like! Just make it a priority to do 5 minutes a day and increase the amount of time you work out each week.
If you are already working out regularly and seem to have hit a plateau when it comes to losing fat, take a look at your lifestyle. Are you super stressed out all the time with work, school, family life, and your workouts just seem to add MORE stress to your daily life?
Not great for fat loss. Our bodies tend to hold onto water and fat when we are constantly in a state of “fight or flight.”
If your stress level is a 7 or higher on a scale of 1-10 and you are doing intense workouts every time you hit the gym, a better option for you might be to combine high-intensity activity such as HIIT, with low-intensity activity such as walking. This will help decrease the overall stress placed on your body and you may be surprised that decreasing your intensity might actually lead to better results.
Now if you’re in the opposite boat where you are doing the SAME workout every time you hit the gym and you don’t pick up anything other than the pink 5 pound dumbbells…then we need to ramp up your intensity.
Try incorporating 2 HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions a week to increase your fat burn. HIIT incorporates short, but very intense periods of work, with alternating periods of rest. It only takes 10-20 minutes to get in a good HIIT session. Not only is it time efficient, but very effective for fat loss.
3. Take time to slow down.
Stress plays a large role when it comes to fat loss, especially around the midsection. When our bodies are in a state of chronic high stress, it resists letting go of excess fat.
There are many factors that can contribute to an increase in our stress levels, some of them include:
Lack of sleep
Never taking time to unwind, relax, or bring energy INTO your body
Always serving others and putting yourself on the backburner
Not dealing with emotions in a productive manner
Always feeling like you have to do everything in a rush
Pick one area of your life that you can work on to help decrease your stress levels. If it’s lack of sleep (I know us mommas only have so much control over this…) try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. Or incorporate a bedtime routine (journalling, taking a bath, dimming the lights and making time to be grateful before bed, etc.)
If you’re a busy mom, try taking time out just 5 minutes a day for YOU. Whether that’s working out, meditating, reading, etc.
4. Intermittent Fasting.
Fasting 1-2 times a week is a great way to decrease belly fat. If it’s realistic for your lifestyle, try fasting 1-2 days a week from sunrise to sunset (it’s sunnah!), and see how your body responds. Just doing this alone will change your body composition without having to change any other factors.
If fasting from sunrise to sunset sounds completely daunting, try starting off with a 6-8 hour fast. There are many ways you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle.
Not only does fasting help with fat loss, but it also has a myriad of other benefits including increased cognitive function, improving detoxification, and promoting longevity.