“How do I get rid of my belly fat” is a question all of us ask ourselves. Everyone wants a flat stomach.
We all want to look slim and fit into those jeans that we used to wear in college. But our lifestyles come in the way of achieving our goals.
For many of us, it is not possible to hit the gym regularly. Gym memberships are also expensive. Moreover, you may not find a suitable one in the locality.
Losing weight requires careful planning, and often, consultations with a doctor or nutritionists. However, you can start making changes at home and alter your lifestyle to reduce your gut and live healthy.
Why Should You Get Rid of Belly Fat?
Belly fat is actually visceral fat. It is the fat that accumulates in the stomach region, which is where most of our vital organs are. Presence of belly fat affects the organs and tissues that are located in that region.
Most people want to get rid of abdominal fat because they want to look slim. Nothing compares to the feeling of fitting into the dress or jeans of your choice. However, there are other reasons why you should try to get rid of your beer belly.
According to Centre for Disease Control, non-pregnant women whose waists measure more than 35 inches and men whose wait measure more than 4- inches are at a greater risk of developing obesity-related complications and diseases.
People with belly fat are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. Evidence exists that accumulation of belly fat boosts inflammation and thickening of arteries. This increases the chance of heart attack. (1)
Belly fat accumulation also increases the chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.(2)
Here are some ways in which you can reduce belly fat at home.
Risks of belly fat for women
Studies show that for women, belly fat is more dangerous than man. A bigger waist to hip ratio for women increases the chance of heart diseases. There may also be gynecological complications.
Unfortunately, many women have a tendency to gain more weight in the abdomen. Due to their duties at home, women also find less time to exercise.
Women should try to keep at least 45 minutes for themselves. If you cannot go for exercises mentioned below, simply go for a brisk walk. Eat healthy, don’t skip meals, and try to minimize stress.
Risks of belly fat for men
Men tend to have a bear belly with age. Apart from risk of heart diseases and type 2 Diabetes, belly fat may also cause sleep apnea in men. Men are also more likely to indulge in alcohol, which further contributes to belly fat.
Dietary changes are a must. Give up smoking and drinking, and do some form of exercise.
How to reduce belly fat at home?
Any weight loss program has two aspects to it: lifestyle changes and exercise.
You should consult with a doctor before you embark on any weight loss regime. A doctor can tell you what to eat in a diet and how much exercise you need, based on the condition of your body.
Here are a list of foods and exercises that help reduce belly fat.
What to eat to reduce belly fat?
It is widely known that in order to loss weight, you must avoid fatty and junk food. A vegetables, protein and fruit-based diet is the best way to lose weight and aid fat loss.
An ideal diet for weight loss should reduce calorie intake. We should, therefore, look at foods that are more filling and nutritious while packing less calories.
Subsequently, low calorie intake ensures exercises yield better results.
Here are some food items that help reduce belly fat.
Quinoa is regarded as a superfood. It is especially great for those whose staple diet is rice. Unlike rice or pasta, quinoa is rich in protein. It is also slow-digesting, which means it makes you feel full for a longer time and reduces cravings.
Dalia is broken wheat, and a popular breakfast dish across India. Dalia is rich in fibre and protein and has low sugar content.
Bottle gourd or lauki
Gourd is practically fat free, and has a high fibre and water content. It contains vitamin A, C, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
People with belly fat may be prone to hypertension. Gourd is excellent at combating it. It is also anti-bilious, and relaxes the body after meal. Lauki juice is also good for health.
Other types of gourd, like snake gourd, bitter gourd and zucchini are also low in fat. You can alternate them in your diet to add variety and switch up the taste.(3)
Milk and curd
It is established that a protein-rich diet aids in weight loss. Milk and curd or yogurt are good ways to increase your protein intake. Low-fat or skimmed milk and curd are a staple for almost every weight-loss diet plan.
Yogurt, curd and non-processed cheese are full of protein and good fats. Curd and yogurt are not only rich in protein and calcium, they also aid digestion.
Pulses or daal
Pulses, before their price reached astronomical levels, were known as “poor man’s meat”. They are high in protein and fibre. You also have to use water to cook pulses, so it automatically increases fluid intake.
Eating dal also makes you feel fuller, hence it reduces cravings and desire to munch on sugary snacks.
Fish and lean meat
World over, dietitians advise eating protein to build muscle and reduce weight. Eating proteins keeps you fuller and hence reduces intake of fat.(4)
Lean meat and fish are low on fat. Fish especially, are rich in fatty acids, and Omega-3. Not only do they aid in weight loss but also benefit the heart.
Green tea is now regarded to be the go-to solution for those looking to lose weight and reduce belly fat. While green tea is undoubtedly beneficial, it is not effective if taken alone. It is best taken while sticking to an exercise regimen.
Green tea is rich in anti-oxidants and contains trace amount of vitamins and minerals. These boost metabolism. Hence, drinking green tea will help you burn calories faster.
Apart from this, it is better to reduce or give up alcohol, sugary foods and junk food. Processed cheese, meat and snacks must be avoided. These are rich is trans fats, which are unhealthy and increase weight.
Diet is just one part in your quest to lose belly fat. Belly fat cannot be reduced without exercise.
Exercises for reducing belly fat
The prevalent myth is that crunches help in belly fat reduction. There is no evidence to support this. Scientists say that spot reduction is a myth, and it is better to stick to exercises that benefit the body overall. (5)
Studies show that there is a better chance of getting rid of those love handles and belly fat by running. Running burns calories like nothing else. Start with brisk walking and then eventually break into a run. You will sweat more and burn calories faster.
Running involves every part of the body, so it is the best way to lose weight overall.
Like running, swimming exercises the whole body. Forcing your way against the water helps burn calories fast.
Always consult a yoga teacher. Yoga does not need any equipment and can be easily done at home.
Asanas like surya namaskar is said to be very effective in reducing belly fat. However, it is best to consult an expert to make sure you are doing it the right way and doing the right asanas.
If you do not have the option of going for a run or a swim, play your favorite dance music and do some aerobic exercise. Studies show that aerobics are just as effective as swimming in reducing weight. (6)
Pedaling not only helps you burn calories, it also makes you move your lower body more. Bicycling entails abdominal stabilization, which helps develop core strength. Evidence shows that bicycling for four hours every week reduce fat growth. (7)
This is also called “circuit training.” Lunges are very effective in building muscle strength and aid in fat reduction. Unlike squats, lunges benefit the whole abdominal area.
How to do lunges
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your spine straight. Take one big step forward with the right leg, and shift your weight forward so that the heel hits the floor first.
Gradually shift forward so that your thigh is parallel to the floor, and the shin is vertical. Do not touch the left knee to the ground.
Press the right heel to drive back to the starting position. Alternate with left leg. Make sure that your spine remains straight throughout.
Do not narrow your stance. This will only destabilize your balance. Do not bend forward. Make sure your heel touches the ground and that you do not pop it up by putting your weight on your toes while going back.
Here is a video to give you a demonstration.
You can also bring some variations, like twisting your body sideways when you thighs are parallel to the floor. In any case, make sure your spine is straight and you are maintaining your balance.
Weight lifting or resistance workouts
Weight training supposedly is more beneficial than cardio exercises. If you cannot hit the gym, keep two dumbbells at home and exercise with them. Studies show that doing weight or resistance training effectively reduces fat-mass or fat weight. (8)
However, be careful to not jump into heavy lifting outright. Build up your resistance slowly.
While cardio exercises are great at burning energy, the burning stops soon after you stop that particular exercise. Weight training, however, gives you a metabolic boost and keeps the fat burning. It is ideal to combine cardio exercises with weight training for losing weight.
Doing lunges with dumbbells
An effective way to include weights in your exercise is to use dumbbells while doing lunges.
Here is a video that shows you how to do it correctly.
Push ups are a great way to build abdominal strength and tone the muscles.
Everyone knows how to do push ups, but very few can actually do it. It requires considerable strength.
Build up your strength slowly. Start by using an inclined surface, and using your knees for leverage. Once you get used to it, go up on your toes and keep your legs straight. Keep doing the push-ups against the incline.
Next, go for the next stage. Start by planking your body. You hand should be directly under your shoulders, and your spine should be straight.
Ground toes to the floor. By putting pressure on your arms, slowly rise up. Ground your knees to the ground to first get into the motion and ease you into the final stage, where you only touch your toes and hands to the ground while doing push ups.
Keep your elbows close to your body and make sure your body is in a straight line through out the exercise.
Here is a good beginner’s guide to the work out.
Remember to always mix up your exercise routines. This helps your body exercise all the parts and reduce weight in a healthy way.
But you should keep in mind there is no instant way or shortcut to lose belly fat. You have to follow your diet and exercise routine, and over a period of time you will see a slimmer stomach and an overall healthy body.
Belly Fat FAQs
Q1 What are the risks of having belly fat?
Belly fat is linked to obesity and a host of other diseases and disorders. People with belly fat are at a greater risk of developing heart diseases, hypertension and diabetes. Women with a high amount of belly fat may also develop gynecological comlplications.
Q2 What to eat to reduce belly fat?
Eat more vegetables, fruits, and proteins. Go for lean meat like chicken and fish instead of fatty meat like bacon. Have milk, curd and yogurt. Drink lots of water. Studies show a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and proteins aid in weight loss.
Q3 What to avoid?
Smoking, alcohol, junk food and sugary stuff like sweets and chocolates. Avoid fizzy drinks and processed food like sausages, processed cheese and ready-to-heat meals. Remember, the more you eat out, the more calories you put on, as restaurant food often contain a high amount of processed products and condiments high with preservatives and trans fats.
Q4 Does green tea help in losing belly fat?
By itself, green tea cannot reduce belly fat. It increases metabolism. Green tea is also rich in anti-oxidants and has trace amounts of essential minerals and vitamins. Supplement an exercise regimen with green tea and you will burn calories faster. Some fitness experts recommend drinking green tea before starting on your workout to burn calories faster.
Q5 Do crunches reduce belly fat?
Spot reduction is a myth. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. You have to lose weight and fat mass overall. You can do some stretching to work the area, but apart from feeling limber, it will not contribute much to your goals. The best strategy is to try to reduce weight overall.
Q6 What exercises should I do to reduce belly fat?
Running, swimming, push-ups, lunges, aerobics, yoga and light weight training. It is best to keep mixing your work out routines. For example, go for a run for a week and follow it up with swimming next week. Do not focus solely on cardio exercises. Yes, they are helpful in burning away stored fat, but the burn stops as soon as the exercise stops. Combine weights with your exercises to help you burn more calories and retain your shape.
Q7 Will Quitting Rice Help in losing Belly Fat?
Everything is relative. Rice does not cause anymore weight gain than wheat. But yes rice can cause a blood sugar spike as it is metabolized faster compared to other grains. Grains should always be eaten in moderation. Eat more cooked and raw vegetables compared to wheat or rice.
TIP: Fermenting rice with fenugreek seeds (as in dosa/idli) can help reduce the blood sugar spike. Eating your fermented rice pancakes with olive oil/coconut oil/ghee will further reduce the blood sugar spike.
And yes ghee does NOT make you fat. Sugar, vegetable oils, trans-fat & too much grains are the biggest contributors to obesity.
- Why Belly Fat Hurts the Heart WebMD
- How strong is the association between abdominal obesity and the incidence of type 2 diabetes? NCBI
- 6 Indian Foods to Reduce Belly Fat NDTV
- Protein, weight management, and satiety. NCBI
- Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality? Yale Scientific Journal
- Effect of regular swimming exercise on the physical composition, strength, and blood lipid of middle-aged women NCBI
- Bicycle Riding, Walking, and Weight Gain in Premenopausal Women NCBI
- Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults NCBI
Hey! This is an excellent article! I was sort of surprised having arrived here randomly while procrastinating. I really appreciate the wisdom, body positivity and holistic approach you’ve taken to a well-worn subject. Kudos.