Are you struggling with belly fat? Do you feel that your arms and legs are toned but your belly is a large squishy bag of jelly?
Worry not, you are not alone. There are many like you who struggle with bad genes when it comes to where your body wants to store fat. For some, it is the buttocks, for some, it is thighs and for many like us, it is the abdomen area or the mid-section. Also, many of us have developed bad eating habits since childhood that has made us gain belly fat.
So how can you get a flat belly? It can happen only when you reduce your overall body fat percentage, when you get your body fat percentage close to 20 per cent (for men 10 per cent).
Spot reduction is a myth
The abs and slim waist will be visible only when your body fat percentage is at the lower side. Spot reduction is a myth. Calculate your body fat percentage here.
Losing weight and losing fat are two different things. You may weigh the same but might look leaner when you try to get a lower body fat percentage and more muscles. So always aim at fat loss or inch loss, than weight loss when you are aiming to lose the belly. Always try to gain or save those precious muscles. Your body will thank you for sure.
BMI is not the correct way to map your progress
The BMI calculator can show you the ideal body weight as per your height, but it doesn’t consider many other factors like water retention, bone structure, sodium intake etc. that can affect your weight. Your weight can fluctuate on a daily basis.
So, technically BMI is not an accurate way to calculate your progress or to ascertain what the ideal weight for your body should be. Whereas fat measuring calipers show inch loss or Body Composition Analysis reports clearly show the muscle gains and the fat loss percentage which are much more reliable to measure your progress.
How to lower body fat?
Now the question arises, that how can you lower your body fat percentage?
The process is simple and backed by science. Everything boils down to what you eat and how you exercise.
Diet to bust belly fat
First try to calculate what is your daily calorie requirement? The standard 2000 calories doesn’t apply to all women. Get a BCA (Body Composition Analysis) report done. Using your lean mass value, calculate your TEE (Total Energy Expenditure) and BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate). BMR is the minimum calories required to sustain your body functions. Never go below your BMR. 800 calories diets are a fad. It harms more than it delivers.
Macros to the rescue
Once you have the BMR and TEE numbers, chalk out a macro based eating plan using those numbers. Macros are Carbs, Proteins, and Fats. There are many online calculators that will help you to ascertain what should be the percentage of each of the Macros in your daily diet.
Keep on increasing your calories every week till you reach a plateau.
Unfortunately, our body adapts to low calories if on a diet for a very long time and stops losing weight.
Stop taking sugar and switch to natural sweeteners. Start cooking your own meals if possible.
Intermittent Fasting Strategy can help
Try simple intermittent fasting where the eating window starts at 12 noon and ends at 9 or 10 pm. It is sustainable. Prior to breaking your fast, you can have black tea/coffee/herbal teas. It’s okay not to have breakfast. Caffeine also helps in the fat burning process.
Go low carb
Have lunch that doesn’t contain carbs to prolong the fat burning process in your body. Try salads, carb free chapatti (made from flaxseed powder, almond powder, coconut powder etc.) Make the first meal of the day rich in protein.
Eat carbs allowed in your macro diet at night. Finish your dinner by 9 pm. Make sure to complete all your macros to get the maximum thermogenic effect. Read about how you can sustain a low carb diet without spending a lot of money. You may also like to read why people give up on their diet plans.
Exercise to bust belly fat
Lift weights 3 to 5 days in a week. Strength training is required to maintain and grow your muscles. Especially, when you are in a calorie deficit diet. Anything which is below your TEE is in calorie deficit. Muscles are required to raise your metabolism. No, weight training won’t bulk you up. Instead it will make you stronger and will make you look toned.
Include cardio as well. 3 sessions of half an hour in a week are more than enough. For maximum fat loss, you can try HIIT. HIIT can be applied to any form of cardio like running, swimming, cycling, etc. In this case, you put full on blast of efforts for 30 seconds and then minimum efforts for 30 seconds which help you to somewhat recover.
Do not underestimate steady state cardio. Walks and jogs are also helpful in shedding fat. Though the results are slow but you will eventually lose fat if you are consistent with your efforts. However, you need to invest at least an hour.
If you hate burpees, don’t do it. Not all exercises are fit for everyone. As you age, you need to take care of your joints. But you can always try exercises that you enjoy like yoga, cycling, walking, dancing; with good music and varied approach, so that you don’t feel bored. The idea is to challenge your body but in a calculated way.
In the end, I would like to say is that don’t look for shortcuts. The ‘gharelu nuskhe’, the fat burners, will only work if your diet and exercise are on point. No magic pills, no masalas can get you into shape. The only way you can get there is by working towards your goal.
And, most importantly, have patience. Give yourself time to change. Be consistent and stay disciplined.
Remember that excess fat is a precursor to many critical illnesses and heart ailments. And such diseases come knocking at your door without a warning.
All images via Pixabay.
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