How to Burn MORE Belly Fat
I’ll preface this by sharing the bad news: You can’t spot-reduce belly fat by working that muscle group more frequently. There are no exercises that target fat loss in specific areas on your body. So doing more oblique crunches and leg-raises won’t remove belly fat faster (unfortunately.)
What these exercises WILL do though, is strengthen and define your abdominal muscles so that when you get leaner your tummy looks more chiseled. The same goes for any exercises for other muscle groups; squats, overhead presses, triceps extensions, etc. Doing these exercises is not going to burn more fat on those areas of your body.
What you’re doing when you resistance train is improving your muscular endurance and increasing the size and strength of that muscle group so your physique will look more defined over time (as long as you are following the right nutrition plan as well, of course). This is the result people are after when they say they want to “tone up.”
Big changes take a long time, for the record; so don’t fear that you will get “bulky” because you are lifting weights. If your goal is fat loss, resistance training will be an essential part of your program because the more muscle you have on your frame, the more energy you expend at rest. More muscle = more calories burned even when you aren’t doing anything.
So… is there anything that can be done about targeting fat loss on your stomach? Yes, actually. Just because you can’t “exercise” belly fat away, doesn’t mean the idea of spot-reducing belly fat is entirely hopeless. It comes down to altering your nutrition and lifestyle habits and correcting hormonal imbalances through proper supplementation.
Here are a few things you can do to promote both overall fat-loss as well as belly-specific fat-loss:
Consume high-quality protein with every meal
We know that if you aren’t eating right, then it doesn’t matter how much you exercise or how many supplements you take, you will never see optimal results, if any at all. So your first priority is to fix your nutrition. One of my biggest pieces of nutrition advice is to eat high-quality protein with every meal. High-quality protein will have at least 10g of essential amino acids, and is typically found in animal protein, eggs, dairy and whey protein.
Amino acids trigger protein synthesis so you will be building more lean muscle tissue. (Again, more muscle = more calories burned at rest). Plus, protein-based meals increase satiety and reduce the production of “hunger” hormones like Ghrelin so you won’t want to snack after a meal. The problem is that eating a protein-based whole food meal every 3 hours is challenging for many working individuals, parents, students, so a good substitute would be a sustained assimilation protein shake like 1st Phorm Level-1 that digests slowly over the course of a few hours to hold you over until your next meal.
Increase Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is the hormone that your body releases in response to the rise in blood glucose levels after you’ve eaten a meal. It regulates the metabolism of what you consume; proteins, fats, and especially glucose, by promoting the absorption of these molecules from the bloodstream into fat, liver and skeletal muscle cells. This is referred to as “nutrient partitioning.”
Someone who is insulin-resistant has a hard time partitioning the nutrients they consume, causing the body to store much of the glucose you consume as fat; often on your lower stomach and lower back. It is more of a challenge for them to burn fat off as a result. Insulin-resistance is caused by a number of things: excess body fat, overeating simple-carbs/sugar, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and genetics play a role to an extent. Ways to improve insulin sensitivity:
- Avoid high-glycemic and processed carbs with meals, like bread or pasta; instead choose complex carbs like oats, potatoes, rice, quinoa, etc.
- Resistance Train – glucose is stored in muscles as glycogen, which is converted into energy during resistance training. The more you deplete these glycogen stores through exercise, the more your body needs carbs in order to replenish them, resulting in improved insulin sensitivity.
- Take 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar before bed – shown to reduce fasting blood glucose levels by 4%.
- Supplement wisely. Taking a supplement like 1st Phorm’s Glucose Disposal Agent, or G.D.A, which has ingredients that improve your insulin sensitivity as well as slowing the absorption of carbs from the intestines to the bloodstream, promoting healthy blood glucose levels.
Reduce Stress Levels and Balance Cortisol
Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone, released from the adrenal glands. Cortisol itself is not a bad thing, but chronically elevated cortisol as a result of emotional/physical stress or consuming excessive amounts of caffeine has a very negative impact on your health and causes your body to store more fat around your midsection.
The goal is to achieve an optimal cortisol curve, where cortisol production is highest in the morning and lowest at night. Try turning off all screens – TV, your phone, your iPad, at least 1 hour before bedtime to help you unwind. The blue light that the screen emits stimulates the release of “awake” hormones, including cortisol.
Supplementing wisely is key as well. You can take a nighttime supplement like C-21 which contains ingredients that naturally lower cortisol levels, promote relaxation, and help you get a higher quality of sleep, resulting in more fat being released from your midsection.
Do More Interval Training
When you do interval training or HIIT – High-Intensity Interval Training, (which is shorter in duration significantly more intense than doing longer intervals,) you perform quick bursts of max-effort activity followed by a short rest period. This promotes the production of Growth Hormone, which is a hormone that promotes muscular development and fat burning.
This style of training has also been found to your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) which regulates hormone levels. This can be thrown out of whack due to stress, poor lifestyle habits, lack of activity, poor sleep, etc.
Important Aspects of Fat Loss
Remember that these changes take time, and won’t happen overnight. You can’t spot reduce or specifically target fat in your midsection by simply doing more sit-ups. Yes, you still want to train your core as that will help you define your midsection as you burn fat … but doing the four belly fat loss tips above will help you reach your goals more quickly.
The most important thing to remember is you must be consistent long-term. Implement these steps and you will see changes within a few weeks, but don’t let that allow you to get lazy! Keep your foot on the gas, and you will see BIG changes in a few months.