Fat is one of those things that everyone knows about, but which nobody really knows how to explain. How to loose belly fat fast?
On a person, it’s that flubby stuff hanging off of your waist that you can grab with your hands. In cooking, it’s an important part of making food tasty, or even edible.
Think butter or olive oil. But the bottom line on fat comes from chemistry: fat is a kind of molecule that’s slippery, has a low melting point, and is actually quite important for your health.
The key, as in almost everything about the human body, is moderation.
The condition of having too much fat, also known as obesity, carries with it a slew of well-known health problems, and it’s an easy disease to catch.
Anyone who’s participated in a holiday feast with their family knows how the bathroom scale reacts after a weekend of binging on cheesecake, ice cream, and other fatty foods.
The good news is that you can control how much fat you carry through exercise and diet. If you’ve already got some fat you want to get rid of – many of us do! – then here’s what you need to know.
- Belly Fat
- How to Reduce Belly Fat Fast
- How to Burn Fat
- How to Lose Belly Fat Fast
- 10 Best Foods for Burning Fat
- 10 Worst Foods for Burning Fat
- What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
- How to Lose Belly Fat in a Week
- How to Lose Belly Fat Overnight
Ah, belly fat. Many people consider this figure-destroying stuff the bane of their existence.
The fat around your middle isn’t a special kind. Your belly just happens to be where your body likes to store its extra fatty energy. (Generally, the human body is more practical than fashion-forward.)
However, if you want to shrink your waist, there are lots of options. First, you’ll need to be aware of the two different types of fat that can make your middle big.
- Subcutaneous fat. This is literally part of a layer of fat that sits right below the skin. You may be able to pinch it between your fingers and jiggle it.
It’s normal and healthy to have a little of this, but when most people think about losing weight, it’s subcutaneous fat that’s going through their minds.
It’s true that having too much subcutaneous fat is a bad thing. However, appearances can be deceptive…
- Visceral fat is the real enemy. This type of fat exists deeper in your body, crammed between your organs like packing peanuts.
In fact, one of its main jobs is to make sure that your stomach, spleen, liver, and other important internal parts don’t bump together and damage each other!
However, too much visceral fat can be worse than too much subcutaneous fat.
For one thing, you can’t just grab it to see how much you have. You don’t have to be clinically obese to have too much visceral fat, but you can still suffer from things like artery disease because of it.
Many doctors think that visceral fat may be a better indicator of fat-related metabolism issues than the much-maligned subcutaneous fat.
Generally, you can only get an accurate measurement of visceral fat by a doctor using an imaging machine. That said, a measuring tape can still give you a good idea of how much may be hiding away around and inside your organs.
There’s good reason to pay attention to the size of your waist. Having too much fat around your middle is an all-around predictor of early mortality, and complications can include heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Aside from that, it can slow you down and make you tired. Extra fat is just useless dead heft your body is carrying around for no reason, just like if you were wearing a backpack full of rocks at work all day.
The difference between belly fat and a backpack full of rocks is that you can’t shrug off your fat and relax at the end of the day! It’s no surprise that obesity is also clinically associated with depression. Whether you’ve got just a little too much fat on your belly or you’re carrying an extra seventy-five pounds, you deserve better than that. Let’s talk about how to get rid of it.
How to Reduce Belly Fat Fast
The best way to get rid of extra fat is to exercise and diet. Granted, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that.
If you’re overweight, your doctor (and probably an army of well-meaning busybodies) has already gotten to you. But there are a few details you might not have heard yet.
Here’s the good news. Belly fat goes first. If you start exercising five days a week and restricting your calorie intake, you’ll see your waistline start shrinking almost immediately.
You can also slow the accumulation of visceral fat by eating plenty of fiber.
Apples, peas, and beans are ideal, and you can make an easy, reasonably tasty meal just from those ingredients!
Better yet, if you sub in an apple for a candy bar, you’re reducing the quantity of fat you’re taking in. Fruit just has less than chocolate.
Finally, if obesity is a serious and acute medical issue for you, your doctor might be able to help you lose weight faster. The Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) may allow you to lose up to five pounds per week, though you may have to restrict your daily intake to less than a thousand calories.
Since all of your vitamins and nutrients will need to be packed into those meager meals, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter or risk getting ill.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is similar in that you may lose up to ten pounds for the first two weeks, but after that, your weight loss will level out to the more typical one or two pounds every seven days.
However, burning fat is inherently complicated, and extreme diets are often a bad idea. First of all, a lot of them don’t work for every body out there.
Second, there are health risks involved with rapid weight loss, not least of which is the possibility of gaining back more weight than you lost. Losing weight too quickly can also cause your boy to liquidate your stored water and lean tissue, a.k.a. your muscles.
Remember, when the human body evolved, it was good to have more fat, because that meant you’d have more energy when the food got scarce. Your body still thinks of fat as valuable, even now that lack of food isn’t a problem for you.
So how do we go about burning fat in a way that sticks? Well, heads up: there’s some math involved.
How to Burn Fat
Time to break out your calculator! Don’t worry. This is math with a purpose.
One pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories.
Calories are units of potential energy, which fat stores, so when you want to lose weight, calories are how you keep track.
Generally, a healthy adult man needs to consume 2,500 calories a day and a healthy adult woman needs 2,000.
(This can vary based on your age, height, and current weight.)
To make a long story short, to burn a pound of fat per week, you need to reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day.
There’s a free calculator available here that can tell you how much food you should be consuming per day to lose weight.
You may already see where I’m going with this. Ten pounds of fat equals 35,000 calories. (10 x 3,500 = 35,000)
In a week, the average woman eats only 14,000 calories. (7 x 2,000 = 14,000)
For that average woman, 35,000 calories represents a full two and a half weeks of energy!
Because of this, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to lose ten pounds of fat in just a week.
Even losing five pounds in that stretch of time, deleting 17,500 calories from your diet, would be unreasonable.
There’s another catch. If you lose a lot of fat very fast, you may stand a significant change of gaining back even more. In fact, even people who diet in a measured way are historically prone to regaining weight.
The key to keeping fit – and keeping the fat off – is in your lifestyle. No matter how you cut it, generating new habits just takes time and work. Try using an extended weight loss period to develop healthy new routines. You’re more likely to see your hard work last that way.
Now that I’ve hit you with a bunch of bad news, let me finish out this section on the bright side.
Let’s say you’re an average-sized adult woman, and you know you’re eating too much.
You start tracking your daily calorie intake. It turns out that you’re consuming 2,500 calories per day, or 17,500 calories per week. (7 x 2,500 = 17,500)
You’re over your limit by 500 calories per day. If you cut back to 1,500 calories daily, or if you cut back to 2,000 calories and burn 500 calories by exercising every day, you’ll reduce your net weekly calorie intake by 7,000 calories.
Good for you! That will equal two pounds of fat off your body per week, and in under two months, you’ll be ten pounds down. That’s a good, healthy goal. Most people who diet to lose weight tend to lose at this rate.
Your next question may be how you might burn some of those calories by exercising. One of the great things about exercise is that, if you develop the habit or working out daily, you’ll reduce your likelihood of gaining the weight back.
Exercise does “burn” fat, in the sense that it draws on the energy reserves that fat represents to your body. Those reserves aren’t its first recourse, though. Remember, your body sees fat as precious!
So what makes your body realize that it needs to burn up some fat?
Well, basically, you need to be short of breath. When you draw in more oxygen by breathing faster, that extra air is a sign to your body that you’re under stress.
Now’s the time, your body thinks, to tap some of those old fat stores. Clearly, this is an emergency. This is how you use exercise to fool your fat-loving body into getting rid of its energy reserves.
It’ll take a little while to get into this state, and staying there will probably mean tracking your heart rate, which is tied closely to how fast you need to breathe.
The best rate range for burning fat, which is also called your target heart rate, varies according to your age. The American Heart Association has a good target heart rate chart on their website.
Mixing it up with aerobic and anaerobic exercises can also help you to lose fat. The difference between these types of activities is in the amount of oxygen they require. Aerobic means “with oxygen.”
Running falls into this category. Though you’ll get out of breath and pant if you’re running, you can sustain that activity for a long time as long as you regulate your breathing.
Anaerobic means “without oxygen.” Weight lifting is anaerobic activity, and if you lift weights, you’ll find that you get out of breath much faster while doing this type of exercise.
Unlike running, which you can sustain for hours if necessary, weight lifting can’t be done for long. You need a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise to be healthy.
Here are some of the best ways to burn fat through exercise, according to Harvard researchers:
- Running a 125-pound person burns 300 calories by running a ten-minute mile three times! That’s thirty minutes of moderate running. It may seem like a lot at first, but if you’re new to exercise, consider it your first goal.
- Though different strokes burn calories differently, the forward crawl is probably the best for burning fat. Half an hour of the front stroke can burn 330 calories for that same 125-pound person!
- Shoveling snow by hand. Did you know that even mundane chores can help get you fit? Who would have thought? A 185-pound person can burn 266 calories by vigorously shoveling snow.
As you work out and restrict your calories, your body turns that stored fat into energy and waste products like carbon dioxide and water. These leave you via your sweat, urine, and even your breath.
How to Lose Belly Fat Fast
Once you start exercising and restricting your calorie intake, your belly fat will immediately begin to shrink.
Expect to lose one or two pounds per week, which is average. As I mentioned before, the Very Low Calorie Diet and the Mayo Clinic Diet may cause you to lose more, but those should only be undertaken with a doctor’s supervision.
Otherwise, there’s no scientific proof that any other rapid diets work, whether they’re based on creams, starvation, gadgets, or supplements. In fact, a lot of those gimmick diets can cause you serious health problems.
Since dietary supplements don’t need FDA approval, they don’t have to work or be good for you. Gadgets and creams that you apply to your skin don’t penetrate down to the levels where your body is storing fat, so it’s very unlikely that they work at all.
Starvation is the worst option of all. It can cause short-term malnourishment, liquidation of your muscles and bodily water reserves, and long-term, even lifelong, health problems.
Anorexics, who compulsively starve themselves, can suffer from weakened bones and immune systems even after they recover from anorexia itself. If you have anorexia, please don’t try to lose any more weight. The National Eating Disorders Association has a 24-hour hotline to help you escape this deadly condition.
Losing fat too quickly can also indicate that you’re sick. If you find you’re dropping weight fast and can’t explain why, then now would be a good time to call your doctor.
10 Best Foods for Burning Fat
There are a lot of myths on the Internet about foods that burn fat. In fact, any food you eat gives you at least some calories, and none of it actually uses more energy in its digestion than it gives you.
You’ll still need to watch what you eat and exercise no matter what you choose to eat. However, there are some types of food that will help you more in your weight loss goals than others will.
While they might not burn fat all by themselves, they can certainly decrease your cravings and give you the energy you need to fight your waistline foe.
10 Best Foods For Burning Fat
1. Natural protein. Protein is a double whammy: it boosts your metabolism, which is the amount of calories you burn daily by default, but up to 100 calories. It also reduces your cravings. Protein can mean meat, or not – plenty of vegetarian athletes get their protein from plant-based sources like legumes. Protein is also especially powerful against belly fat. In fact, studies indicate that the more protein you eat, the less belly fat you’ll have!
2. Legumes and beans. Sure, they’re protein, but they deserve an extra special place because they’re also high in fiber! Fiber makes you feel full, dowsing your cravings before they happen.
3. Whey protein. If you have trouble getting enough protein into your diet without boosting your calorie intake, then supplementing with whey is fine.
4. Pineapple. While it doesn’t break down fat, it does aid in protein digestion! It’s also high in fiber, meaning that it’ll make you feel full faster.
5. Fruits in general. Not only do they pack a ton of fiber, but fruits are good providers of the nutrients your body craves. Give your body nutrients instead sugary foods, and it’ll want less food in general.
6. Peas, broccoli, and other green vegetables. Much like fruits, vegetables pack in a ton of great nutrients that will satisfy your body rather than just filling your stomach. They, too, are rich in fiber.
7. Coconut oil. If you substitute olive oil or butter with this healthier cooking alternative, you’ll cut out some of what’s causing your belly to jiggle.
8. Cayenne pepper. According to the experts, hot pepper doesn’t just help you lose weight, but helps you keep it off!
9. Avocado. Though it’s fatty, avocado is full of B6, a vitamin that helps your body to chill out by counteracting the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone coincidentally helps build fat. If that doesn’t make sense, just think like a paleolithic human body: when you’re stressed out, it might be because food is getting scarce, meaning that extra fat reserves will be useful soon. Try explaining a tight deadline or a competitive work environment to your caveman DNA!
10. White tea. White tea is young, unfermented, minimally processed tea, and research suggests that it may have powerful anti-obesity properties. In fact, a review found that pretty much all tea was effective in reducing obesity rates among subjects, and between that and tea’s powerful antioxidant properties, it’s hard to argue with a nice hot cup in the morning.
10 Worst Foods for Burning Fat
Eating healthy is easy…at first. But the worst foods for your body also happen to be the most available. That’s part of why changing your habits can be so difficult. It’ll be worth it, though, when you see the pounds falling off. Here’s what to avoid:
10 Worst Foods for Burning Fat
1. Soda. You know about soda, of course. It’s awful for you and causes a ton of weight gain, mostly due to the sweeteners that make it so irresistible in the first place.
2. Fruit juice. Did you know that the 100% fruit juice that you buy in the carton is often sweetened just like soda is? Think about the difference between the taste of an actual cranberry and cranberry juice. The culprit here is high fructose corn syrup, which is far tastier than it sounds and way worse for you.
3. White rice. I could write a book about how carbohydrates can hurt your body, but you probably don’t need much convincing. White rice is tasty, cheap, and easy to make. It’s also been bleached of all its whole-grain nutrients, leaving basically just the sugary carbohydrate. It’ll fill you up with calories and leave you feeling hungry not long after you finish your bowl. Brown rice, though more expensive, will go further in satisfying your body’s needs.
4. White bread. If you feel like bread is a necessity for you lifestyle, look for whole-grain and multigrain bread. White bread is made from white flour, which, like white rice, has had all the nutrients bleached out of it. It won’t fill you up for long, but it will deliver a large does of sugar and calories!
5. Crackers. Easy to eat in mass quantities and deceptively high in calories, these guys exemplify the problems with prepackaged food. Who hasn’t polished off an entire sleeve of crackers? Like rice, crackers are all carbs. Unlike rice, they’re not even a little good for you.
6. Pasta. Like crackers and rice, they won’t fill you up for long. What they will do is deliver a heaping portion of extra calories – more if you drown them in sugar-loaded, premade pasta sauce.
7. Fast food. The problems with fast food in general are enormous: the portion sizes tend to be large, the food is unsatisfying, and fat-builders like white bread and fries come standard. According to research, it’s a serious cause of obesity, not just for individuals, but across the U.S.
8. Sweets. They’re high in calories, fat, and everything else that is going to hurt your weight-loss aspirations. From cupcakes to chocolate bars, it’s best to save dessert for special occasions. Why not have a piece of fruit instead?
9. Butter, margarine, and most cooking oil. These are all fats, and they’re calorie-dense without the nutrients you may get from fruits and vegetables. It’s not reasonable to cut them out completely, but scaling back on the deep-fried food and passing the extra butter can help you lose weight in the long run.
10. Energy bars. Surprised? Don’t be! If you read the nutrition information on these snacks, you’ll find that, though they may claim to be made of healthy stuff, they’re basically candy bars.
What Exercise Burns the Most Belly Fat?
Fitness experts say that you can’t really choose to burn fat from any specific area. This practice is called “targeted fat loss,” and according to Yale University and the University of California Irvine, targeted fat loss is a myth.
Intuitively, the concept of exercising the part you want to shrink makes sense, but actually, you’ll just build muscles in that area.
If you exercise vigorously enough, you may decrease your overall levels of fat by burning it up as you would do with any other exercise anyway. In the end, maybe that’s not a bad goal!
I mentioned above that running and swimming are some of the most effective fat-burning exercises. Running a 10-minute mile can burn anywhere from 114 calories for a small person to 170 calories for a larger one.
The faster you run, of course, the more calories you’ll burn. The key to getting the most out of this kind of exercise is to continue even after you get tired; your body only starts actually burning your fat after about ten minutes of work. If running isn’t your speed, bicycling is a comparable option.
How do you get rid of belly fat?
The best way to get rid of your belly fat is to diet and exercise with a series of weight goals in mind. Remember, when you start losing weight, your belly will go first!
Deadlifts, squats, back, chest weight lifting with some cardio is the way to get rid of belly fat. You would think sit ups or running but the exercises above will make your body burn fat fast.
The key to reducing the amount of fat on your body is to combine a healthy diet with regular exercise. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while! The good things in life take time.
How to Lose Belly Fat in a Week
Water fast, just drink water (consult Dr.)
Liquid fast, just drink protein, nutrients, vitamins. This will shrink your waist line. (consult Dr.)
Most diets won’t shrink you to model proportions in just seven days. If they do, then you risk malnutrition and other serious health consequences.
But safe, legitimate, rapid weight loss does exist. Sometimes, if you’re morbidly or dangerously obese, a doctor may help you to go on a very, very strict diet.
The Very Low Calorie diet that I mentioned above is one of the only extreme diets recognized by the medical community. For this diet, you’ll eat between 400 and 1000 calories per day – less than half of what even a small adult human needs.
It’s very important to listen to your doctor and not attempt this weight loss plan on your own. However, here’s what will happen if your doctor orders a VLC diet:
- You’ll see a nutritionist. One of the things you’ll discuss will be how to get through the tough first days, when your body will be screaming for food.
- You’ll be introduced to the special nutritional formula that will keep you healthy during your diet. This is called RFO formula and is not available to the general public. It contains mostly protein with extra nutrients added to prevent you from suffering malnutrition. You’ll also probably get a potassium supplement.
- Once you start your diet, you’ll feel ravenously hungry for most of a week. Then, four or five days into your extreme weight-loss journey, you’ll lose the desire to eat. This is your body adjusting to the new status quo.
- Your doctor will record your weight every week. Your blood pressure and pulse will also be monitored closely, since fluctuations in those numbers can indicate that something is going wrong. You’ll see a doctor at least every two weeks and get bloodwork done a couple times per month. You’ll even get EKGs. While all of this testing is going on, you might also want to consult a nutrition counselor about changes you can make in your lifestyle once you’ve hit your dietary goal.
- According to the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, 85% of people who go on a VLC diet reach their weight loss goal. This could be as much as 250 pounds! However, even on this extremely strict diet, expect your journey toward health to take several months.
- Learn to sustain your new body. Weight loss is a traumatic change that may involve saying goodbye to come comforting habits and dietary fixtures. Look for newer, healthier ones to replace them. You got this far. Nothing can stop you now!
How to Lose Belly Fat Overnight
I’ve talked before about how you can use your sleep cycle to promote weight loss through intermittent fasting.
But some studies suggest that your body may be able to use its fat stores while you sleep, burning some energy in the process. This is especially true if you are getting plenty of calcium in your diet.
But for the most part, your body is doing little while it sleeps, meaning that it doesn’t need to use much energy.
But wait! Paying attention to your sleep may still be worthwhile if you’re trying to lose weight. One study suggests that the time of day or night you eat could contribute to whether you gain or lose weight. If you, like the mice in the study, eat outside of your normal times, you may end up gaining, even if your calorie intake has not risen.
How to Lose Belly Fat in 10 Days
I talked about the VLC Diet a little while ago, but I didn’t cover the famous Mayo Clinic Diet. For this famous plan, you actually will lose up to ten pounds in two weeks!
That means that you’ll see your belly fat shrink almost before your eyes. Be prepared, though. This isn’t just a diet: it’s a total lifestyle overhaul. Luckily, you don’t need a doctor. You can do this all on your own.
Here’s how it will go:
You’ll begin the diet by looking at your lifestyle. Do you tend to sit and watch TV after work? What dietary choices do you make? This is the famous Lose It! phase.
Find five unhealthy habits in your life…and break them! Just making yourself exercise five days a week instead of watching TV will make a difference. Already, you’ll see pounds falling off.
Prepare for a lot of fruits and veggies. That’s what the Mayo Clinic Diet is based on. Planning your meals using the Mayo Clinic’s suggestions is key.
For two weeks, watch the pounds fall off. Don’t worry if your rate of loss slows thereafter. Losing one or two pounds per week is normal after the Mayo Clinic’s Lose It! phase is complete. Now you’re in the Live It! phase. Time to set those lifestyle changes in stone and live your healthiest life!
How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally
Your body wants you to be healthy. If it occasionally messes up and does something silly, like increase your appetite or store a ton of fat in your middle, then it’s only because it’s trying its hardest to take care of you. It’s natural for your body to want to do this.
But it’s also natural for your body to run, jump, lift weights, and pursue excellence. Your body can be trained to love movement, to love fruits and vegetables, and to enjoy the feeling of being fit and free of excess fat.
No matter how used to the couch it is, you can teach it something new and it will adapt.
But this change isn’t a decree from you to your metabolism. Instead, it’s a conversation, a process of negotiation that takes time, patience, and compassion.
If you don’t lose as fast as you’d like, don’t beat yourself up. You and your body are still working out the best way to be healthy. What matters is that you don’t give up on your goals. You’ve already taken the first step by doing the research. Now, all you have to do is start.
Have you tried any of these diets? What diets have you tried?