How to Lose Belly Fat

Question:

Hello,

I really need to know how to lose belly fat because I don’t have fat anywhere else on my body except for my stomach. I’m a 5’3” 127 pound, 23 year old female who exercises 3-5 times per week. For exercise I do a lot of ab exercises for around 30 minutes before Pilates class, then usually another 30 minutes on the elliptical after Pilates.

I did a couple of training sessions with the trainer in my gym but I stopped. He had me do a bunch of leg exercises and even had me lifting weights with my arms. I don’t know why we did these exercises because I asked him how to get rid of my belly fat and even told him that I didn’t want to become bulky.

When I was growing up and all through high school and college I had a flat stomach but after I graduated college and started working I have this annoying pooch and flab on my belly. Please help!

Answered By:
Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken

How to Lose Belly Fat Rule #1:  Don’t Believe the Hype

If you want to stay sane, before you even think of burning belly fat you need to quickly discount every miracle solution out there. All products on the market which claim they will help you lose belly fat are a scam. The same goes for all abdominal exercise products and dietary supplements.

How to Lose Belly Fat:  Learn the Facts

Whether you notice or not, the human body is surrounded with a layer of body fat. Most people have “problem areas” which store a more noticeable amount of body fat. The typical problem areas for men include the stomach and lower back while women tend to store more fat in the hips and thighs.

Regardless of where your problem areas are, there are no specific exercises which burn fat from those areas directly. Unless you’re going in for liposuction at a plastic surgeon you’re looking at a matter of calories in versus calories out, meaning you must burn more calories than you consume.

Exception to the Rule:   For people looking to lose belly fat there is notable exception to the calories in vs. calories out argument. The exception is people who think they have excess belly fat even though they have very little body fat to begin with.

How to Lose Belly Fat:  Lose Weightfat people on bosu balls

The vast majority (probably 95% or more) of men and women who want to lose belly fat need to lose weight, plain and simple. Unless you are one of those noted in the exception above you likely have to lose weight in order to lose belly fat.

You stated you are 5'3" tall and weigh 127 pounds which suggests your stomach is not the only place where you could lose some body fat.

A better way to see how much body fat you could stand to lose is to measure your body fat which will allow you to see how much body fat you should have optimally for your age.

The best way to get your body fat percentage measured (estimated) is by a personal fitness trainer. After you have your body fat percentage, you can use a calculator to see how long it will realistically take to achieve your desired levels of body fat along with how many calories you must consume per day.

Lose Belly Fat with Proper Exercise & Diet

Without going into a long discussion about nutrition, it is far easier (physically) to eat less calories than it is to burn calories with exercise. This being said, consuming too many calories is going the be the number one obstacle in your battle against belly fat. Make sure you take the proper measures to control your caloric intake before you work hard in the gym.

It may seem counterintuitive to you but doing abdominal exercises for extended periods is wasting your time. Not that abdominal exercises are bad but for someone who has to lose body fat, but burning calories with cardiovascular exercise is the most efficient way to slim down your belly.

If your goal is to burn body fat, you want to maximize the time you spend exercising. Again, Pilates class and ab exercises are definitely not bad, but if they are causing to miss out on cardio and not burn enough calories, they should be replaced with cardio sessions.

Weight Training is Excellent for Weight Loss and Belly Fat Loss

Full body weight training is excellent for fat loss exercise programs. The likely reason your personal trainer had you doing leg exercises was to help increase your metabolism.

Even though full body weight training can be beneficial to most people who are looking to lose belly fat it can be counter productive like the Pilates and Ab exercises you mentioned if you are not doing enough cardiovascular exercise.

How to Lose Belly Fat:  Strategy

Patience is very important for loosing belly fat. Since more body fat accumulates in this area which sounds to be your problem area, it will be one of the last areas in which you will notice fat reduction. This is simply due to the fact that there is more fat mass accumulated in that area. It is important to recognize this so you don't get frustrated when it seems to take longer than you thought to lose your belly flab.

If you have excess body fat, losing belly fat and getting a flat stomach is likely a simple numbers game. At your height and weight, you will likely have to burn more calories than you consume over an extended period of time.

Do the math. In order to burn off a 5 pounds of fat, some which may or may not come from your stomach fat, you will need to burn 17,5000 more calories than you consume. If you consume 500 calories less than you burn, the time frame for 5 pounds of fat loss will take roughly 35 days.

Maintain your current exercise program if you like but don't perform abdominal exercises or anything else at the expense of cardio. If you have endless hours to workout you can do it all but make sure you do not skip your cardio sessions if you want to burn as many calories as possible.

More Essential Information about Fat Loss

  • Ask The Trainer Comprehensive Fat Loss Article Archive
    Learn how to lose belly fat by creating a full body workout routine that will increase your metabolism and help you lose fat from your problem areas and get a flat stomach. Learn about exercises designed to help someone with a proper diet lose weight and belly fat as quickly as possible. If you know how to lose belly fat you should be able to incorporate most of these strategies into your belly fat loss plan. Learn how to lose belly fat quickly with weight training exercises which work a large percentage of your body's skeletal muscles & much more.
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