By: Tayler Glenn
You’ve tried it all on your journey to target belly fat for a flat, toned stomach: crunches, planks, burpees, and every variation of each you could find online. I mean all of that should work, right? It just makes sense that increasing muscle definition and losing fat means working your core but is all that work really going to give you the toned tummy you want? Read on to get the scoop on targeting belly fat!
Targeting Belly Fat: The Rundown
While popular media has told us all we need to have as little fat as possible, that fat is there for a reason! Everyone has some fat – both the subcutaneous fat just under your skin kept for insulation and the deeper layer of visceral fat there to protect your organs – but how much fat you have and how it’s distributed has more to do with genetics than your workout! Women tend to carry 6-11% more body fat than men and, while men tend to accumulate extra weight around their belly, that excess is typically carried in the hips and thighs for women. Women can thank the hormone estrogen for our body’s tendency to hold on to that fat, too!
Women’s bodies have been shown to store fat this way to help prepare our bodies for pregnancy. This is especially frustrating when you’re trying to lose weight, but women’s stereotypical pear-shape is actually healthier than the apple shape stereotypically attributed to men because of belly fat’s frequent signal of poor health. Excess visceral fat around your organs is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.
Shedding The Excess
Those core workouts are doing great things for your core strength and injury prevention, but don’t think that crunches and ab bicycles are going to shrink love handles! All you’re doing is creating more muscle that will sit behind the layer of fat. So, what can you do?
Focus On Diet
Think of it this way: you exercise for 30-60 minutes a few times per week compared to the 23-ish hours that you aren’t exercising.
When it comes down to it, you’ve got to focus on where the majority of the factors are. The saying “abs are made in the kitchen” exists for a reason; you can’t out-work a bad diet. You have to focus on eating the right things to fuel your body and keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range!
TLS Weight Loss recommends a combination of veggies, fruit, and lean protein such as poultry, eggs, and fish for a dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Oh, and drop the added sugar! That includes desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, and processed foods. Aim to eat no more than 25 grams of added sugars per day at the very most.
Watch Portion Sizes
Many of us, especially if this isn’t our first attempt at targeting belly fat, do a pretty good job of eating a balanced diet. This may mean your portion sizes could use a second look! Especially in Western countries, healthy diets contain the right types of foods but the portions are too large. It’s important to remember that these are the typical portion sizes:
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ cup rice or pasta (cooked)
- 1 small piece of fruit (super-large apples are 2+ servings)
- 1 wedge of melon
- ¾ cup fruit juice
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 2 oz. cheese (about the size of a domino)
- 2-3 oz. meat, poultry or fish (this is about the size of a deck of cards)
Stress Management + Supplementation:
Cortisol can be your best friend or worst enemy. Whether you’ve heard of it or not, this steroid hormone plays a key role in your body’s stress response. This great for situations when you’re faced with immediate danger, but cortisol levels also increase in response to chronic, everyday stress. When cortisol is too high for too long, it can increase the amount of fat you hold in your belly!
So, maybe you do eat a balanced, clean diet and still struggle. Stress + cortisol levels may be to blame! Stress management may be useful though practices such as:
- Planning ahead
If you live a high-stress, fast-paced lifestyle then you still may need a little extra help managing your stress and hormone levels, and that’s okay! With supplements formulated to focus on targeting belly fat, promoting healthy adrenal gland and thyroid function, and cortisol levels, you can control stress levels and minimize the weight gain that comes with increased stress!
There are definitely ways to reduce overall body fat percentage through healthy living, clean eating, and supplementation. But sorry, there’s no way to get it to target belly fat + make it disappear from only your belly. But, when you do reduce your overall body fat percentage, it’ll show in your face, hips, butt, and chest, too!
What helps you manage your belly fat and stress-related weight gain?
Tell us in the comments below!