Question: How do I get rid of belly fat or more specifically what abdominal exercises should I do to rid myself of this flabby mid-section?
Ah, the belly fat question. This is going to be a fun one.
Ab exercises will not specifically decrease the fat in your abdomen. If you want to stop reading you can but I guarantee you will learn some more if you read on.
In the fitness world we call this idea spot reduction, taking bodyfat away from a specific area of the body. Unfortunately, we have yet to figure out how to do it with any type of consistency and the person who figures it out is going to be a multi-billionaire. Cross your fingers for me please.
Don’t write me off too fast, we CAN get rid of it but it takes some specific strategies. Today I am going to teach you a few strategies I have learned along the way that could assist you in your quest for that flat stomach.
But, before you get the secret tips we need to learn a few things so don’t skip right to the end. The following info is very important for you to understand how to lose that middle.
Our body is an extremely complex system thus many different factors contribute to how quickly we lose fat. I am not saying this to complicate things but to help you realize that lasting fat loss is a lifestyle change not a fad ultra-low calorie grapefruit diet.
Diet, exercise, hormones, sleep quality, stress, hydration status, genetics, and a whole host of other things I can’t think of off the top of my head all contribute to the rate at which someone loses weight.
I know that might seem like a lot to think about so I broke it down even more into one key principle that must be present for fat loss to occur.
Calories expended must be greater than calories consumed.
Everyone knows how calories are consumed. Yes, you are correct, through your mouth. Unless of course you are IV fed, although awesome, its pretty rare so I am assuming you are a mouth feeder.
Instead of teaching you how to put food in your mouth lets take a quick look at the ways we expend calories throughout the day.
1) Metabolism (Resting Metabolic Rate) 60-70% of total
The calories you burn just to keep yourself alive. Think heart beating, breathing, cells regenerating etc…
2) Activity Induced 20-30% of total
These are the calories you burn through exercise (think boot camp) but also through daily activity such as housework, mowing the lawn, sprinting from your car to make it to work on time.
3) Dietary Induced (Thermic Effect of Feeding) 10% of total
This is the energy it takes to digest food. In case you are wondering it takes almost twice the energy to metabolize protein than fats and carbs. Hmm, another reason to eat more protein.
So now we know how we expend energy, lets put it all together to help us lose weight.
Lets say your maintenance, not gaining or losing, calorie needs are 2000 calories.
In order to lose weight you have to burn more than 2000 calories or take in less than 2000 calories or a combination of both to be in a caloric deficient state, ie: weight loss.
What most people will do is simply cut calories big time and the weight will start to drop. Well, unfortunately our body recognizes this and slows its metabolism to match our energy intake. The body’s main goal is survival and it could care less about your weight loss goals. Through this method people typically deprive their body of some much needed nutrients because they are not eating enough food and also sending their hormones for a ride because they stop eating fat.
A more effective way to create a deficit is to increase our daily expenditure through one of the three methods above while simultaneously making BETTER food choices.
Looking at the percentages it becomes obvious that the most effective process to focus on would be metabolism. Now, all of sudden we are burning more fat while we work, eat, sleep etc… Just the way we want it.
How do we increase our metabolism?
1. Build more muscle! Ever wonder why it’s easy for muscle bound people to stay skinny? Their metabolism is like a Ferrari because of the muscle they carry around. Muscle is expensive (lots of calories burned) to maintain.
2. Interval Style Training. This type of training creates an “afterburn” effect where you burn massive amounts of calories in the 24-48 hrs postworkout as your body is trying to repair itself. (This is the exact principle Functional Fitness Boot Camp is based upon).
Remember though, it is almost impossible (I say almost because I have seen a few people, elite college athletes exercising 15 plus hours/week do it.) to out train a bad diet. You, my reader cannot, I’m sorry. You have a life.
Don’t believe me? Check out this example for a second.
One cookie is 200 calories. You need to walk (3-4 mph) for 60 minutes to burn that off. 60 minutes of walking for a freakin’ cookie that took 30 seconds to consume, now that is crazy.
Case and Point: Diet is King.
Before I bore you anymore I will get back to the whole reason for writing this blog.: ridding ourselves of belly fat.
To decrease abdominal fat you don’t need the latest and greatest ab exercises (ie: that stupid cruncher on TV infomercials) nor do you need hours and hours of crunches that will wreck your neck and back.
As far as I know, and I read A LOT, there is no specific way to target abdominal fat (outside of hormone manipulation but that is out of the scope of this article). We target total body fat by changing our food choices, doing demanding workouts, and building muscle and then let our body work its magic. It will get to the stomach region at some point, but for some people it takes longer than others.
Permanent fat loss is a simple process that requires lots of hard work and a long-term approach. I’m sorry but there are no quick fixes.
I hate to burst your bubble but that is the way it is and someone needed to tell it to you straight. If anything changes and fat loss becomes super super easy and everybody is doing it, you will a) notice at Walmart or b) if you still have not noticed I will tell you.
So after this ramble lets put it all together and add in a couple extras for good measure.
Diet is the #1 way to get rid of abdominal fat. Oh, it’s the #2 way as well.
This does not mean dieting or restricting our intake. It means changing our food selection and eating foods with higher nutrient density. Simply eating more nutrient dense foods will normalize hormones; cause you to consume less, thus putting you in a caloric deficit. Combine this with the right exercise and you have yourself the recipe for success.
Recipe: The fastest way to lose belly fat
- Increase protein intake (your body expends about twice as many calories metabolizing protein than carbs or fat)
- Reduce and eliminate REFINED carbohydrates in your diet
- Eat until you are 80% full
- Combine diet with strength training and interval training (what we do it boot camp) at least four days week.
Also just for good measure here are a few hormone tricks to help specifically with belly fat which has been shown to correlate with high cortisol levels and very stressful life.
1. Frequent protein meals (this is the easiest snack ever)
2. Adequate “quality” sleep (7-8 hours)
3. Stress Reduction Strategies (meditation, exercise etc…)
4. Reduce carbohydrate intake (eliminate REFINED carbs)
5. Eat majority of carbs around workout window (before, and 1-2 hours after)
That is all folks. Fat Loss = the right principles + a lot of hard consistent work over the long term. Easy formula, hard to implement.
Get after it