weight loss programs

Can You Really Lose Just Belly Fat?

The quick ‘n dirty answer is Yes…and No.  

The ‘NO’ part is that “spot reduction” or losing fat from just one area on your body has officially been labeled as a myth. Fat can’t just choose to come off from only one area! 

So, it truly doesn’t matter how many crunches you do or the number of ways you exercise your abdominal muscles – you’re not going to suddenly be equipped with a 6-pack unless you focus on the bigger body composition picture – and that’s a combination of exercise AND nutrition. 

But, the real question should be this: why are you seeing excess fat on your belly in the first place? Perhaps it’s your genetic predisposition to have a belly pouch or it’s due to advancing age, but it could also be due to two other key players: STRESS & HORMONES. 

Too much of the body’s stress hormone, Cortisol is one of the reasons you could be storing excess fat in your abdominal area, so addressing it can do more for your pouchy belly than all of the crunches in the world! 

Not only does Cortisol tend to drive fat deposition into the stomach area (and it’s more the deep visceral fat surrounding your organs), but when you’re chronically stressed, you also tend to overeat! That’s a double whammy to our health thanks to stress. 

More about tackling that in a bit. But, here’s the ‘YES’ part…

The 5 ways to make your tummy appear slimmer (without relying on mythical spot reduction!)

  1. Eat a balanced diet, rich in whole foods because abs are built in the kitchen! I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that one, but there’s plenty of truth in it. Incorporating the following into your daily diet are the nutritional keys to a slimmer midsection:
    1. High quality sources of protein
    2. Slow-low complex carbs
    3. Whole fruits & veggies
    4. A healthy daily dose of good fats, like avocados & olive oil
    5. Limit alcohol!

  2. Did you know that excess sugar consumption may be the primary nutritional driver of excess fat in the belly and liver? This is particularly true of sugary beverages like soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup (or glucose-fructose). So, ditch the sugar! Sugary foods (and drinks) are renowned for creating excess belly bloat, as well as contributing to an increasingly common condition known as insulin resistance which is a classic contributor to love handles.

  3. Digestive support – be sure to support your body’s complex digestive process, and keep bloating & gas to a minimum by doing some or all of the following:
    1. Eating a balanced, whole foods diet
    2. Staying away from foods you may be sensitive to
    3. Eating fermented probiotic-rich foods
    4. Eating slowly, and mindfully – chew your food!
    5. Watch portion sizes
    6. Consider taking digestive enzymes – talk to a qualified health practitioner before taking any supplements

  4. Show your liver some love – this is also supporting the digestive system as a whole, and can be as simple as following the above suggestions…
    1. Or consider adding in a liver support herbal tea, “detox” water (see recipe below) or supplement blend – again, be sure to consult with a health practitioner before adding new supplements to your health regime
    2. Decrease alcohol consumption – yes, it bears repeating as this alone can go a long way in slimming down that midsection! (It’s called a “beer belly” for a reason!!)

  5. Overall body fat loss with full-body training, including strength training. High intensity interval or HIIT training is thought to be most effective for body fat loss.

However, it is thought that certain areas have more metabolically active fat cells than others – as in they respond better to exercise and healthy eating measures.  

Those that are considered “active” are: chest, arms & stomach – win!! 

But those that are not especially active, and do not respond as well to diet & exercise are: butt, hips & thighs. Whomp, whomp.

Ways to tackle your stress – and prevent excess belly fat accumulation by regulating Cortisol

  • GET MORE GOOD QUALITY SLEEP – Short sleep or poor-quality sleep may lead to weight gain, including belly fat accumulation.

  • EXERCISE AND MOVE YOUR BODY DAILY – Not only does exercising regularly do a body good, but it’s a totally underrated stress reliever!

  • CARVE OUT MORE TIME FOR SELF-CARE – meditation, yoga, hot bath, breathing, reading, listening to music, go for a walk, spend time with trusted & supportive friends… and the list could go on!

RECIPE 

This super easy recipe not only tastes refreshing and gives plain water a serious upgrade, but it assists in digestion, supports the liver, and helps beat the bloat — a natural tummy slimmer! 

Slimming “Detox” Water

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

4-6 cups fresh, filtered water (or sparkling mineral water for extra zip and a dose of minerals)

1 cup Watermelon, cubed

½ cup English Cucumber, sliced

½ – 1 whole Lemon (or Lime), sliced

1- inch knob of Ginger, minced and/or 5-8 Mint Leaves, lightly crushed 

Preparation 

Wash the rinds of all fruits well first, then prepare and cut up all fruits.   

Mix all ingredients in a large glass pitcher, and let mixture sit in the fridge for at least one hour to allow fruits to infuse.  

You may choose to strain the fruit before serving so it doesn’t “dump” into your glass. 

Enjoy several glasses throughout the day. 

If using sparkling water, ensure that you put a cover on your pitcher and enjoy by the end of the day, otherwise it will be flat!

REFERENCES 

Healthline: 12 Things That Make You Gain Belly Fat

Strong Lifts: How to Lose Your Belly Fat Quickly and Naturally

Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise Journal (Study): Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition