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Why We Gain Lower Belly Fat
Belly fat can be hard to get rid of, especially for women who have reached the age of 35, like me.
The best way to approach this goal is to avoid foods that cause belly fat, to begin with, but if you already have some padding on your stomach, you can read this detailed guide for the proper exercises and diet choices for obtaining a flat tummy.
Abdominal fat is unhealthy for many different reasons.
It increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
This warning applies not only to obese and overweight people but to anyone with a waistline circumference greater than half their height.
Carrying extra weight puts you at risk of serious health problems.
If you learn how to lose lower belly fat, you can greatly improve your overall health.
The fat on your stomach also covers your abdominal muscles.
It doesn’t matter how intensively you exercise, how many hours of cardiovascular activity you do, or how often you work out your abdomen with strength training routines.
If you don’t eliminate the fat on your stomach, you won’t see the muscles underneath it.
Fortunately, belly fat is not as hard to lose as you might think.
It’s actually straightforward to do so because there are simple, concrete steps you can take to make it happen.
However, it’s also challenging because it requires time and dedication to stick with your weight-loss goals.
Before I outline the steps you can take to get rid of belly fat, I’d like to explain what causes this unwanted weight on your abdomen.
Sugar is the single biggest reason people accumulate fat on their stomachs.
Most people consume much more sugar than they realize, especially if they drink a lot of soft drinks, energy drinks, cappuccino, or sweet tea.
There is a difference between various forms of carbohydrates, just as there is a difference between the types of protein you eat.
For example, animal protein isn’t the same as soy protein.
It’s not just about what type of nutrients you eat, but also what ingredients the nutrients consist of.
Research has shown that sugar is a common cause of belly fat, and additional studies indicate that people who drink a lot of soda have lower insulin sensitivity and a greater body mass.
Moreover, liquid calories are a much poorer source of nutrition than solid foods.
They encourage you to consume calories without paying attention to what you’re putting in your body, so it’s generally a good idea to stay away from sugary soft drinks.
Sugar is a form of simple carbohydrate, so the body breaks it down almost instantly in the gut.
It causes your blood sugar to spike and adds layers of fatty tissue to your abdomen.
This makes it much harder to get rid of lower belly fat.
Another common cause of belly fat is excessive alcohol consumption.
The negative effects of alcohol consumption on exercise may be exaggerated in the media, but when it comes to body fat, obesity, and abdominal fat, the link is undeniable.
Alcohol inhibits the fat-burning mechanism in your cells, so the calories you consume through the beer, wine, and spirits are converted to body fat.
Several studies have shown that men and women who consume alcohol have up to 80 percent more risk of gaining fat than those who abstain.
This issue makes it almost impossible to get a flat stomach, for alcohol drinkers.
Exercises to Reduce Lower Belly Fat
Running is a great exercise because it gives you a chance to enjoy the outdoors and listen to your favorite music while burning belly fat.
You don’t have to push yourself too hard to get the benefits of running.
By lightly jogging just 15 minutes per day, you’ll burn around 300 calories, and decrease your resting heart rate by a significant amount.
I recommend running for anyone who has tried every other exercise without successfully losing the last few pounds of belly fat.
To encourage your body to start losing fat, you can put a mild amount of stress on yourself for a three-day period.
For example, drop your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day while running in your neighborhood and working up a sweat.
If you can, try running vigorously for as long as possible.
You don’t need to keep up with this level of intensity.
You only need to do it for a couple of days to shock your body into using fat for energy.
After three days of intense exercise, you can reduce the intensity by about 20 percent, to a sustainable level.
This routine will help you get rid of lower belly fat quickly.
Cycling is another great exercise for losing belly fat because it provides a moderately intense cardiovascular workout that burns about as many calories as running.
You won’t have to deal with the same risk of injuries with cycling as you do with running because the pedaling motion is a low-impact movement.
One of the best exercises you can do for fat loss is cycling uphill because it forces you to use all the muscles in your body to propel yourself against gravity.
When you put stress on several muscle groups at the same time, your body responds by adding new layers of muscle tissue as you recover from your workout.
Cycling uphill combines high-intensity cardiovascular exercise with full-body strength training, for a fat-burning workout that will shred the stubborn fat on your belly.
You don’t have to push yourself too hard with this workout, either.
You can cycle uphill at full speed, and then coast down the other side of the hill while you recover from the exertion.
Start your workout by doing eight to 10 sets of these uphill sprints, then work your way up to doing 20 or more in one session.
The third item on this list is rowing, which is an amazing workout for your upper body, abdominal muscles, and legs.
The best part of getting your cardiovascular activity by rowing is that you have many great choices for performing your workout.
Whether you choose to work out in a gym or in a kayak, your belly fat will begin to disappear within four weeks of starting your routine.
This exercise provides a great lower ab workout.
Not everyone has access to a river or stream for real-life rowing, but anyone can visit a gym to use the convenient rowing machines.
The difference between using a machine and rowing in a body of water is the same as the difference between riding a bicycle and exercising on a stationary bike.
The workout is essentially the same, but you will probably find it a lot easier to spend hours exercising outdoors than to make a repetitive motion on a stationary machine.
The difference can be significant because the extra time you spend exercising can help you lose belly fat much more quickly.
I recommend rowing for 45-minute sessions at least three times per week.
It’s a good idea to rest between workouts, to give your muscles time to recover.
Boxing, Sparring, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
You may not have considered learning how to put someone in a headlock or grapple them to the ground, but combat sports can really burn fat and calories in a fast-paced, intense workout.
These activities are high-endurance sports that test your ability to maintain an increased heart rate for a prolonged period of time.
Like cycling, running, and rowing outdoors, sparring and boxing provide a great lower ab workout and a fun, challenging way to spend your time.
The secret to losing belly fat is staying in constant motion and expending more calories than you consume; boxing, kickboxing, and martial arts will keep your pulse racing for hours before you realize how long your workout has lasted.
The one precaution you should take is to come to an agreement with your sparring partner not to land direct blows to the head.
Over time, these impacts can lead to brain injuries and other unpleasant problems.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to enjoy the benefits of boxing and sparring without hurting yourself, and you will improve your physical coordination and self-defense skills in the process.
This activity is perfect for people who prefer to work out in the company of others.
Body Weight Resistance Training
Resistance training using your body weight is a great way to strengthen your muscles without injuring yourself or wasting time traveling to the gym.
When you’re doing exercises to lose belly fat, you must train your muscles regularly to keep your metabolism from settling into a rut.
Exercises like push-ups, planks, squats, pull-ups, and scissor kicks provide an excellent workout for your muscles, as well as a moderate cardiovascular workout for your circulatory system.
The most important muscle groups to train are your legs and abdominal muscles, because they are two of the largest groups, and will help you continue to burn calories after your workout.
Another important muscle group is your back, so make sure to do pull-ups and chin-ups.
If you’re like me and you can’t do a single complete pull-up, you can rest your legs on the ground and lift the rest of your body up using your arms.
Don’t push up with your legs during this motion any more than you have to.
Pull-ups exercise the biceps muscles in your arms and the latissimus dorsi muscles in your back.
I recommend doing seven to 10 repetitions of this exercise in two to three sets at least once a week.
In-Place Aerobic Exercises
If you don’t have time to leave your room, you can try in-place aerobic exercises for a fast, intense workout that will help you burn fat in your spare time.
With this method, you have a wide range of options to choose from, so you’ll never get bored doing cardiovascular exercise in your room.
You can keep yourself entertained by watching TV or listening to music while you work out, as well.
In-place exercises include standards such as jumping jacks, knee kicks, and squats, as well as fun exercises like mountain climber twists, plank jacks, and butt kicks.
The mountain climber twist is a great exercise that works your core and leg muscles at the same time.
To do this move, put your hands on the floor as if you’re doing the plank or push-ups, then alternate kicking each leg across your body and toward the opposite side of the room in a twisting motion.
Start your routine by doing this exercise for 20 minutes at a time.
Slowly work your way up to 45-minute sessions three to four times per week.
Your belly fat will disappear completely with regular sessions of in-place cardiovascular training.
If you want a challenging lower ab workout that offers excitement and adventure, then rock climbing is an excellent choice for you.
The reason it’s such a great exercise is that it gives you a strength-training workout for all your major muscle groups at the same time.
It also provides a strenuous cardiovascular workout that will continue burning fat for hours.
It will help you expend excess calories while building muscle mass and making your body lean and muscular.
While this exercise is an excellent option for anyone who wants to lose belly fat, it can be difficult for those who don’t have access to rocks, hills, or mountains.
Most major gyms provide a rock wall for their members to climb.
Indoor climbing has the added benefit of safety and security.
If you join a gym to use the rock climbing equipment, you’ll be strapped into a harness, so you’ll never be in danger of hurting yourself.
Like most of the other exercises on this list, rock climbing gives you a chance to enjoy the time you spend working out, whether you exercise outdoors or in an indoor facility.
It’s easy to forget that you’re exercising when you’re enjoying the challenge of beating your personal record and exceeding your limitations.
Swimming is one of the best exercises to lose belly fat because it gives you a full body workout and intense cardiovascular activity at the same time.
Swimming laps burn about as many calories as jogging, but won’t hurt your joints or ruin your shoes.
It can be challenging to breathe properly while you’re swimming because your increased heart rate will force you to breathe more heavily.
Fortunately, you can solve this problem easily by doing a backstroke.
When you swim on your back, your nose and mouth will naturally be facing up, so you’ll be able to breathe normally.
You’ll want to be careful not to swim in a diagonal line into the lanes of the swimmers around you.
The way to keep yourself pointed forward is to look behind you and keep yourself aligned with your lane.
It’s not necessary to push yourself too hard when you first start swimming because you’ll still burn plenty of calories by taking it slowly.
If you add this heart-healthy habit to your routine, you could have a flat stomach in just a few weeks.
If you have access to a gym or you’re planning to join one, barbell training is an essential exercise for obtaining a slim midsection.
While body weight resistance training can help you burn calories and maintain the muscle mass you already have, barbell training enables you to build new muscle tissue and shred the body fat covering your muscles.
I recommend breaking your weight training routine into two sessions and performing each one on a weekly basis.
The first set of exercises should target your legs and abdominal muscles, while the second set should target your arms, chest, and back.
It’s up to you whether you want to perform these exercises once or twice a week.
When you’re losing belly fat, it’s better to increase the frequency of your workouts, and reduce the amount of weight you lift, to minimize your recovery times.
If you don’t feel comfortable exercising with free weights, you can use the safety equipment at your local gym to eliminate the possibility of dropping a barbell and injuring yourself.
Exercise Ball Training
The exercise ball is a fun piece of equipment to use, and it provides a wide range of beneficial movements designed to target your core, arms, legs, and back muscles.
Working out with an exercise ball improves your mental focus, abdominal strength, and physical stamina.
I like to begin my workout with three sets of exercise ball sit-ups, followed by three minutes of planking with my feet suspended behind me on the ball.
It’s a great way to begin your workout because it warms up your body and provides a challenging, low-impact workout for your key muscle groups.
An exercise ball can make it much easier to learn how to get rid of lower belly fat in a short time.
Dietary Changes to Lose Lower Belly Fat
The size of your portions is one of the most important components of your diet, and it’s easy to do a bad job measuring portion sizes for your meals if you’re not careful.
The typical American diet consists of over-sized portions, and these sizes have increased dramatically over the years.
Decreasing your portion size is one of the easiest ways to reduce your calorie intake without making an effort.
You’ll be surprised how full you feel with a reduced number of calories.
The trick is simply to eat smaller portions and then wait 15 minutes before deciding if you’re still hungry.
When you’re trying to figure out how to lose lower belly fat, adjusting your portion sizes can help.
Most Americans eat a diet that’s high in carbohydrates in the form of starches and sugar.
Starch isn’t as bad for you as sugar, but it’s not necessary for a healthy diet, and it’s a low-quality form of nutrition.
Foods such as rice, potatoes, and bread are convenient and inexpensive, but not very healthy.
You don’t have to cut out carbohydrates completely to lose belly fat, but you can easily reduce the number of carbs in your diet to as little as 50 grams per day without sacrificing important vitamins and minerals.
By far the worst type of food you can eat when you want to lose belly fat is sugar.
This unhealthy food creates an extreme spike in your blood sugar and causes your body to store fat.
Most people know that white sugar, candy, and other desserts are unhealthy, but those foods aren’t the only sources of sugar.
You may think of orange juice as a healthy beverage, but it’s actually not much better for you than soda.
Fruit juices and dried fruit contain high levels of fructose in a highly concentrated form, and including them in your diet is almost like snacking on candy and soft drinks.
Also, watch out for foods like fruit-flavored yogurt and canned fruit that’s sweetened with fruit juice.
You probably already know that protein is one of the most important nutrients for your body, but you may not know how much protein you really need, or what types of protein are healthy.
The downside of plant-based protein is that it usually comes with carbohydrates, and fails to provide the complete set of amino acids needed for building muscle tissue.
You probably need less protein than you think, but a good rule of thumb is to measure a portion the size of a deck of cards for every meal.
With all the new medical research coming out these days, people are beginning to discover the benefits of eating healthy fats.
You can jump-start your weight-loss diet by eliminating bad fats and replacing them with healthy alternatives.
Your body needs plenty of dietary fat to be able to circulate hormones throughout your bloodstream and perform other vital bodily functions.
As long as you avoid unhealthy fats and don’t consume too many calories per day, you don’t need to worry about limiting your fat consumption or feel guilty about eating fatty foods.
Bacon, eggs, cheese, and cream are all fine, but artificial fats, such as partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, should be off-limits.
Eating vegetables is a great way to keep yourself full and add fiber to your diet.
By taking the time to shop for fresh vegetables, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to make your meals more interesting and nutritious.
You don’t need to count your calories when eating vegetables because they’re so low in calorie content that it would be impossible to overeat them.
A couple of inventive ways to add vegetables to your diet include spiralizing them to make low-calorie pasta or roasting them to impart a hearty flavor.
To ensure that you get a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals, eat a colorful selection of vegetables in your meals every day.
If you’re like me, you love eating out at restaurants and trying new foods that you might not be able to cook for yourself at home.
When you’re trying to lose belly fat, it can be hard to control yourself when you’re ordering food from a menu.
Because portion sizes are so large in most restaurants, I don’t recommend going out to eat unless you have a dining companion or two to share your food with you.
You can make some smart choices to avoid eating the wrong foods, even if no one is around to go out to eat with you.
For example, leave the bun off your hamburger, and substitute fresh vegetables for French fries or a baked potato.
Cooking at Home
Most of the time, you’ll be cooking at home, so you’ll want to purchase the right ingredients and perfect the cooking methods that make you feel satisfied.
I’m not the greatest cook, so I usually end up making stews, beans, and soups for my family because these foods are the healthiest choices that are easy enough for me to prepare.
When you’re cooking at home, you have the advantage of being able to control your portion sizes when you’re preparing your meal.
My advice is to change up your menu on a continuing basis so that you never get bored.
This method will also ensure that you get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to lose weight and build muscle tissue.
Eating snacks is an easy way to increase your belly fat if you’re not careful, but you should still eat them to prevent yourself from getting too hungry in between meals.
Snacks help you even out your metabolism over the course of the day so that you don’t experience severe highs and lows in your blood sugar levels.
My favorite snacks are walnuts, peanuts, popcorn, edamame, fruit, and vegetables.
You can also find excellent snacks in the international foods section of your grocery store.
Japanese snacks are low in carbohydrates and high in nutritional value.
My one word of warning is not to overindulge in snacks, especially if you’re eating nuts.
Desserts are one of my favorite foods to eat, and I would eat them every day if they weren’t so unhealthy.
I limit myself to one day of eating desserts per week.
On this day, I typically eat several servings of the desserts I had been thinking about all week.
When you’re losing belly fat, you should completely eliminate desserts from your diet to make the process go as quickly as possible.
If you find yourself craving something sweet, you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a day off from your diet.
When I’m in the process of cutting body fat, I usually give myself a cheat day once a week.
On those days off from dieting, I eat as much as I want without counting my calories.
Variety is the spice of life, and you should incorporate an interesting mix of protein, fruits, and vegetables into your diet to avoid getting stuck in a rut.
It’s not necessary to eat different foods every day, but you should avoid buying the same ingredients on two consecutive trips to the grocery store.
Changing up your menu will help you avoid letting your body become accustomed to any particular diet.
The trick to losing weight is to make your diet and workout routine unpredictable so that your body has to do extra work to keep up with the changes.
Implementing the Changes
Putting all of these ideas into action will take a lot of effort and determination, so I recommend making these changes slowly so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
You’ll have no trouble succeeding if you choose to eat foods that you like, instead of forcing yourself to eat meals that you find distasteful.
The most difficult adjustment to make for most people is reducing carbohydrates and eliminating sugar, so you shouldn’t feel guilty if you have some trouble making these changes.
Don’t push yourself too hard, because it won’t produce good results.
Lasting change will come when you adopt habits that you feel comfortable with.
How to Prevent Getting Lower Belly Fat
If you’ve followed my advice until now, sticking with your new diet shouldn’t be a problem, but you may need a little extra willpower in certain situations.
For example, the people in your family may not choose to adopt your healthy way of life, so it might be necessary to prepare your food separately, or avoid the meal items you know you shouldn’t eat.
If you go out to eat with a group of friends, it might be a good idea to schedule that meal for one of your cheat days so that you can enjoy yourself without any guilt.
When you put all of these steps together, you have a complete diet plan that will result in body fat loss and muscle gain.
It may still seem impossible for you actually to lose the weight.
It will take about four weeks of exercising and dieting before you see results, and your progress might not be the same as it would be for someone else.
If you aren’t seeing results after about four weeks, you just need to tweak your routine and stick with it until the results start to come.
There are two common problems that can prevent you from losing weight.
The first is consuming too many calories, and the second is consuming too few calories.
When you don’t eat enough food, your body will go into starvation mode, and you’ll lose weight more slowly.
To begin losing weight again after this happens, simply reduce your calorie intake by a smaller amount.
It’s best to avoid getting lower belly fat in the first place.
If you’re already slim and don’t need to lose weight, your job is much easier than it would be to go on a diet and burn fat.
All you have to do is pay careful attention to the calories you put in your body and the physical exertion you do every day.
The biggest mistake people make is adopting bad habits without realizing what they’re doing.
For example, adding one glass of orange juice per day to your diet increases your calorie intake by 1,400 calories per week, and causes you to gain two pounds of body fat per month.
Because it happens at such a slow rate, you probably won’t notice the change until you’ve gained five pounds of fat.
It may also be difficult to figure out what has caused your weight gain.
It would be better to avoid consuming too many calories in the first place.
This can make it hard to lose lower belly fat.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do moderate cardiovascular exercise at least five days a week to burn calories and increase your heart rate. This exercise will also decrease your resting heart rate, which is a measure of your overall cardiovascular health.
- To accelerate your weight loss, perform vigorous exercise so that you break a sweat and feel physically energized after your workout. High-intensity cardiovascular exercise is actually better for weight loss than slow-paced activity such as walking or jogging.
- Adopt healthy habits that you enjoy doing to ensure that you keep your good habits instead of letting them go when they become too hard. If you love being outside, try cycling, playing sports, or kayaking. If you prefer to spend time in your room, do exercises while watching TV or surfing the Internet.
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t start losing belly fat right away. You may have to make several adjustments to your routine before you start seeing results.
- Don’t drink sugary soft drinks, fruit juice, or sweetened beverages. If you can’t abandon your sweet tooth completely, it’s okay to cheat on your diet once a week.
- Don’t try to push yourself too hard. If you reduce your calorie intake too much, you will trigger an evolutionary survival mechanism that causes your body to retain fat. Maintaining a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day, and varying your diet and exercise, will produce the best results.
The last few pounds of belly fat can be the hardest weight to lose, and most people aren’t used to the proper dieting and exercising techniques needed to lose weight.
If you have enough patience and determination, you’ll have no problem shedding the unwanted weight and revealing the six-pack abs under your belly fat.
One final bit of advice I have for you is to try to remove all distractions from your life before attempting to lose belly fat.
If you only have to focus on your diet and exercise, you’ll have a much better chance of successfully losing the weight.
Whether you succeed or fail depends on many factors, but you will feel much better about yourself when you eat healthy foods and exercise at least five days a week.