So you want to get rid of the belly fat right? Well, we all want to have a much flatter and toned belly. But, mere wishing for one doesn’t somehow take away the belly pooch. To be able to do this, it is extremely important to understand how the body’s weight gain and weight loss mechanisms work.
But no worries though, as it is easier than you think to get rid of the excess fat, you just have to do it the right way.
Before we talk about the mathematics of weight loss, please make sure you understand the following facts:
- You can’t target the fat in a specific area. For instance, working out the belly won’t burn the abdominal fat alone. Instead, fat from the entire body will be burnt uniformly.
- While the so-called .”Belly fat workouts” strengthen the abdominal muscles, they won’t eat up only the abdominal fat.
- There are no ”magic drinks” to get rid of the excess fat, no supplements would work either.
Where Does the Fat Come From?
The short answer is, from what you eat. If you put more energy into your body (through food) than the energy you use for all the bodily functions from simple breathing to running, the excess energy is stored in the form of fat (lipids).
About 20-25% of total body weight in a healthy individual consists of what is called Adipose Tissue, a connective tissue that stores excess energy in the form of fat (lipids). Places like the abdomen and buttocks (in women) contain a larger concentration of adipose tissue_reason why we store more fat in these areas.
The unit of energy obtained directly from food or stored fat is called a Calorie. To maintain a healthy body weight, an average man needs over 25000 Kcal while an average woman requires 2000 Kcal. These numbers, however, can change depending upon an individual’s age, size, and extent of physical activity.
Where Does the Fat Go? Mathematics of Weight Loss
Have you ever wondered where that fat goes when you lose weight? Or in other terms, let’s say you lost 1 kg of your body weight. So, where did that 1 kg mass go? Mass can not simply disappear into oblivion!
There is a high probability that no ”weight-loss guru”, no fitness coach has ever told you where did that 1 kg of mass go.
Just out of curiosity, we asked a couple of people the same question. And here is what they thought might have happened to the 1 kg mass:
- 90% of the respondents said it was converted into energy.
- 7% thought it was converted into water.
- The remaining 3% said the mass was converted into gas.
In fact, none of the answers are correct. It is important to know the answer to this question. Because at the end of the day, what we are trying to do is, getting rid of that mass. So, we should know what happens to it.
And to correctly understand this, in fact, without involving too much chemistry, we need to look at a typical fat molecule and its composition.
Here is what a typical fat molecule looks like:
So, what do you see in this fat (glucose) molecule? The entire fat molecule is, in fact, made up of only three elements i.e Hydrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen.
Your body constantly needs energy to function. Even when you are not doing anything, energy is needed to keep the body warm, heart beating, brain functioning, and everything else that goes on inside the body.
And here is where the mass of that burnt fat goes and how energy is obtained during metabolism:
To burn 1 molecule of fat, we inhale 6 molecules of oxygen. As a result of the chemical reaction during metabolism, 6 molecules of carbon dioxide, 6 molecules of water, and energy are obtained.
- Our body uses the energy obtained to function and power physical activities.
- We exhale carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Water comes out of the body in the form of urine, sweat, mucus, and tears.
If you combine the total mass of fat burnt fat and oxygen consumed, it will be equal to the sum of the masses of water we discharge and carbon dioxide we exhale. In other words, that 1 kg of mass we lost comes out of the body in the form of water and carbon dioxide.
What Did We Learn So Far?
We learned the following important scientific facts about weight gain and weight loss:
- We gain weight when we consume more calories than we burn.
- Whether we are sleeping, sitting idle, or working out, we continuously burn calories.
- Excess fat in the body is converted into water, and carbon dioxide during metabolism.
- If it’s only about losing weight, all the physical activities that demand energy work the same way.
Back to The Belly Fat: The 2 Scenarios
Because our main objective is to getting rid of the belly fat, there can be 2 different scenarios. The nature of your specific case will decide which course of action needs to be taken.
Scenario-1: You are overweight and have excess fat in all areas of the body. Of course, the belly is going to store more.
Scenario-2: You only have excess fat on the abdomen and are happy with the rest of your body.
Scenario-1: Lose Weight + Tone Abdominal Muscle
If you are overweight and it’s not only about the belly, it’s time to start your weight loss campaign. In the light of what we have talked about already, here are the steps you need to take:
- Determination & Commitment: First thing first, make up your mind that you are going to do it. Determination and commitment are the very first things to empower.
- Get Rid of Sugar: Completely get rid of added sugar from your diet. This includes all the soda, and sugary drinks, fruit juices that contain added sugar. Remember, we want to make the body burn the stored fat instead. If you still want to satisfy your sweet tooth, here are some sugar alternatives to consider.
- Green Diet: Add more greens to your diet. All types of vegetables, and fruits. And of course, some greens are better than others. Check this list of greens with amazing health benefits.
- Hara Hachi Bu: That’s what the Japanese call it. Eat anything and everything, of course except sugar. If you are off sugar, and on a diet rich in healthy greens, it still doesn’t mean that you should overeat. Whatever you eat, make sure you stop eating when 70% of your stomach is filled. Here is how the Hara Hachi Bu diet works.
- Thermogenics to Burn more Calories: Natural thermogenics are foods that generate more heat and your body spends a good deal of energy digesting them. From lean meat to eggs, and buttermilk, here a list of top natural thermogenic foods to include in your diet.
- Eat Less: Our diet part is almost done. As we said earlier, there is no need for starving yourself, such a thing won’t work in the long term. Eat almost everything but in the amounts, you can easily burn later on.
- Lifestyle Changes: If you have an inactive lifestyle, none of the abovementioned things would work. You need to burn the fat you have been storing for so long. Here are a few beautiful and easy steps to get you started.
- Exercises & workouts: So far, you got rid of sugar/sugary drinks, and adopted a healthy diet regimen. You have also started living a more active life. But, for things to work even faster, you need to do a little more. Start with easy workouts that don’t demand a gym membership or hours of sweating. Check out these at-home workouts to start burning those calories.
- Tone Belly Workouts: As we already know, we can’t target the fat in a specific area, so you are free to do any exercises, workouts, physical activity that demands energy. Once you reach your ideal weight goal, now is the time to strengthen the ABS and tone that belly. Check out these simple workouts to tone and flatten the belly.
- Loose Skin After Weight Loss: If you have just shed a good amount of your body weight, loose skin may appear on the belly. This may also cause saggy underarms, droopy eyelids. Here is the definitive guide to deal with loose skin after weight loss.
Scenario-2: Strengthen ABS + Surgical Intervention
Now we consider that you only have excess fat in the belly area. Because you have ideal fat deposition in other areas, working out to lose belly fat will make you burn fat in other areas as well.
For instance, losing too much subcutaneous fat on the face may result in droopy eyelids, and may also result in wrinkle formation. So, what are the options to get rid of that belly fat without disturbing the aesthetics of other areas?
Here are the steps you can take to either minimize or completely get rid of the belly pooch:
- Healthy Diet: All diet recommendations in Scenario-1 are compatible with you as well.
- Manageable Fat: If the belly fat is under manageable amounts, working out the abs will strengthen the muscles and will further reduce its appearance. These exercises should be light and should target only the abs. Check out this list of exercises meant to tone abdominal muscles.
- Too Much Fat: If the fat is in excess, you can start implementing endermology, or lipomassage. This will help stimulate fat burning in the belly area alone as it allows you to reach deep fat deposits and break down the cells that make it up. Lipomassage can now be done at home with rollers or vibrating belts. This Vibro Shape electronic belt from ExParis can be a good option to start with.
- Lipotransfer: Especially useful if you have excess belly fat while too little fat in other areas. Lipotransfer is a body modeling method that uses your own adipose tissue. The treatment begins with the collection of fat from one part of the body, where you have excess fat, e.g. from the abdomen. Then it is technologically processed in a special centrifuge. Finally, the processed fat rich with stem cells is injected into the place that you want to enlarge, for instance, the breast area.
- Professional advice: If the belly fat is not manageable and you can’t sacrifice losing any more fat in other areas of your body, it is always best to consult a professional to get proper advice.
So, that’s what it takes to get rid of that belly fat and tone the abdomen. Hope this helps you reach your dream flat tummy. Wish you good health!
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In the meantime, if you want to start tightening the abs, you may start with the following simple exercises.
Workouts to Strengthen and Tone Abdominal Muscles
1. Double Leg Lifts
Double Leg Lifts are a Pilates exercise that strongly works your core. By keeping your legs firmly together, you transfer most of the work toward your abs. This is more challenging than most Pilates exercises because you have to keep your legs straight. Most trainers call this the Mermaid exercise.
How To Do:
Lie faceup on the mat and put your palms under your head with elbows wide open.
- Spread the legs and raise them upwards keeping them joined at the heels and inhale.
- Exhale as you pull your torso up from the floor and crunch your tummy, feel the tension in your back muscles and the abdomen at this point.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly lower your torso in the mat.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times at a stretch.
2. Flutter Kicks
Abdominal flutter kicks predominantly target your abdominal muscles, working the lower abs in particular. They are also a superb workout for your hip flexors, where a large extent of the effect is felt when you are performing repetitions.
Your middle and upper abs will also feel stimulation from this exercise and you will get a great overall workout by including this movement into your overall abdominal training routine. Performing the abdominal flutter kicks near the end of a workout will also improve your endurance levels.
How To Do:
- Lie on your back with your head and shoulders lifted off the floor and your hands behind your head.
- With both legs extended and toes pointed lift your right leg off the floor.
- Raise your left leg just a few inches off the ground.
- Drop your right leg swiftly down so that it hovers a few inches off the ground.
- Simultaneously raise your left leg up towards the ceiling.
- Without pause, alternate back and forth. Up and down on each leg is one repetition. Aim for 6 – 8 repetitions.
3. Animal Crunches
This is one of the highly recommended exercises which can burn lower belly fat very easily and very fast.
How To Do:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your hands behind your head.
- Lift your shoulders off the floor and curl your legs towards your ribcage; simultaneously.
- Slowly, return to starting position.
- Repeat this process in sets of 5 or 10 and repeat as many times as you can.
4. Criss Cross
The Criss Cross Pilates Exercise works your core. You can use a rope to ensure proper form. To get the full effect, make sure to keep your core tight throughout the exercise. The Criss Cross Pilates Exercise will work your core. Because your feet are off the ground, the exercise especially works your obliques and lower abs.
How To Do:
- Lie straight on the mat. Place the palms below the head with shoulders wide apart.
- Bend the knees and pull it up to the sheens.
- Now pull your head and shoulders up from the mat to the base of your shoulder blades as you exhale.
- Inhale and exhale as you spread your left leg out and twist your torso toward the right as if to touch the right knee with your left elbow.
- Now inhale as you straighten your body and switch legs, exhale as you spread out the right leg and twist your torso towards the left as if to touch the left knee with the right elbow.
- Repeat the set 10 times and gradually increase it.
5. Exercise Ball Crunch
An exercise ball, stability ball, balance ball, and physioball all mean the same. This will not only improve balance, coordination, and stability. This exercise needs a lot more muscle stabilization engages.
How To Do:
- Lie down on the ball so that the lower back is supported and feet are firmly planted on the ground.
- Place your hands on your chest or behind your head.
- Contract your abs and lift your torso up and forward. lower back down.
- The ball must remain stable during each contraction.
- Inhale as you lower back down, and exhale as you crunch.
- Perform 1-3 sets and repeat 12-16 times.
6. Rolling Plank Exercise
The rolling plank trains your body muscles around the abdomen, hip, and lower back.
How To Do:
- Lie down on the mat or floor sideways. Support your body on the right elbow and right leg.
- The elbow should then be perpendicular to your shoulder and your left leg should be above your right leg, making sure they are together.
- Keep the knees straight. The hips should also not be touching the ground.
- Hold this posture for about 30 seconds. Once you are comfortable,
- you can hold this position for about one to two minutes.
7. Vertical Leg Crunch
How To Do:
- Lie flat on the mat or on the floor with legs extended upwards towards the ceiling.
- And then one knee that is crossed over the other.
- Breathe in and then lift the upper body towards the pelvis.
- Breathe out slowly. Do about 12-16 crunches for two to three sets.
- Check out the video above on how to do vertical leg crunches.
8. Hip Lifts
How To Do:
- Lie on the floor with your arms by your sides.
- Your palms facing down and your legs over your hips at 90 degrees. Feet are flexed.
- Then lift your hips off the floor using your core muscles while your legs are reaching towards the ceiling.
- Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times.