How To Lose Belly Fat: A Lifestyle Primer
It doesn’t matter if we’re 16 or 60, we never stop wanting to look our best, and a little extra weight around the stomach can really affect our self-confidence and overall life satisfaction.
These days, it’s so easy to put on weight; most of us work in sedentary office jobs, and all of our food is packed with preservatives, salt, and excess sugar. Staying trim and healthy is a constant uphill battle in the modern world.
But there are always options. That little extra fat on your waistline is not so difficult to get rid of as you might think. You might think your body’s working against you, but by leading the right lifestyle you can flip the script and start making it work for you instead.
Lose Fat Fast: Understanding The Different Types Of Fat
It’s important to understand that not all fat is made equal. There are two different kinds of fat that are present in your body.
- Brown fat is a highly insulant fat that’s rich in iron-bearing mitochondria. It burns calories to produce warmth and is most common in infants. You could typically describe this fat as good fat.
- White fat is the classic type of fat that comes to mind when we say the word fat. It serves as a store of energy for the body to use. It’s an insulator, keeping you warm, and it also cushions both your internal organs and your body in general. It even serves as part of your endocrine system. Although it does provide some benefits, this is the stuff we want to reduce; this is the bad fat.
These fats are stored in three different ways throughout the body.
- Essential fat is stored in the brain, bone marrow, and nerves, and it plays a large part in regulating the hormones that control bodily processes like fertility, temperature regulation, and more.
- Subcutaneous fat is stored right underneath the skin. Most body fat is subcutaneous, and it largely serves as part of the skin. Most of the functions of white fat are from subcutaneous fat. While excess subcutaneous fat is a concern, it’s not as much a concern as the next type of fat.
- Visceral fat is white fat stored in the abdomen and around your internal organs: the heart, intestines, liver, kidneys, and so on. Too much visceral fat is a risk factor for various conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer. This is our main concern, but thankfully, it’s very responsive to lifestyle changes.
How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat
The problem isn’t with fat itself; it’s with carrying too much fat that you don’t need. A healthy person of normal weight should carry a percentage of that weight in fat. Specifically, from 15% to 25% for men, 15% to 30% for women.
So obviously the methods of how to lose belly fat for men are going to be a little different than how to lose belly fat for women. Men should be focusing more on strength training and exercise to lose belly fat and women should be focusing on diet and cardio. Below, we’ll show a few ways about how to reduce body fat.
Losing Fat By Changing Your Diet
If you exceed your prescribed intake of calories per day, then you gain fat, it’s that simple. So one easy solution to excess body fat is to cut back on what you’re eating. But that doesn’t mean you can live on Spam alone. Here’s an overview of what you should drop from your menu and what you should get more of.
- Avoid trans fats. These may also be listed as partially hydrogenated fats, and studies have linked them to heart disease, inflammation, and especially weight gain around the belly. Cutting them out will be good for your health in general.
- Cut back on alcohol. You don’t have to give it up entirely, as alcohol does have benefits in small amounts, but limiting your alcohol intake helps. In fact, a study shows that drinking a little every day has a smaller impact on your belly fat, compared to drinking a lot every couple of nights.
- Reduce your sugar intake. In every form it takes, even the healthier sugars like natural honey. Too much sugar is a major cause of weight gain, usually in the form of increased abdominal fat.
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake. This especially applies to refined carbs; you can simply replace the refined carbs you’re already eating with whole carbs, like the ones from whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.
- Eat more protein. Especially lean protein from fish, eggs, lean beef, chicken, turkey, and dairy products. It’ll also let you keep muscle mass while you get rid of belly fat.
- More whole foods, less processed foods. That means dropping everything with preservatives. The fewer unnecessary ingredients in a dish, the better.
Losing Fat Through Exercise
Diet works, but it’s not the only thing you can do. Since fat is built by exceeding your caloric requirements, you can also increase those requirements by taking on a more active lifestyle. Doing more physical activity means burning up more calories, leaving less of them to hang around and become fat.
So get some cardio in. You don’t have to become a gym rat if you can’t spare the time, but remaining physically fit is always good for the body. The frequency and duration of your exercise count more than the intensity of what you’re doing. As long as you can put in about 300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, you’ll generally lose a good deal more weight than those who don’t exercise as much.
Note that ‘targeted’ exercises don’t work to reduce fat. A hundred sit-ups and two-hundred crunches per day will build up your abs, but it won’t burn your belly fat any faster than normal. When it comes to getting rid of fat specifically, all exercise is equal.
Losing Fat By Taking Care Of Your Mind
You’d be surprised how much your state of mind affects your body. In particular, let’s look at stress.
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. It helps you deal with stressful situations by putting your body in fight-or-flight mode. Excess cortisol increases the amount of visceral fat stored by your body, so keeping stress to a minimum also keeps your belly fat down.
So work on your stress management, in whatever form it takes. Yoga or meditation work nicely. Unplug and step away from the world—your body will thank you for it.
Fat Loss Cheat Code: Laser Fat Treatment
If you’re wondering how to lose fat, diet and exercise are fairly standard options. But what if you need a little extra help to kick your fat loss into high gear? Well, then you want to be looking at laser lipolysis.
Laser lipolysis uses an infrared laser to target the fat cells beneath the skin. The laser liquefies these fat cells, forcing them out so that they can be eliminated from the body in the same way as other bodily wastes. Too good to be true, you say? It’s a proven procedure, but it does have its ups and downs.
Advantages Of Laser Fat Treatment:
- It’s short. You’ll be required to take a fifteen-minute consultation, and the laser procedure itself takes only twenty-five minutes.
- It’s painless. You’ll feel some hot and cold under the laser diodes, but nothing more than that. There’s no cutting, no injections, no need for anesthesia, no inserting of tubes like liposuction.
- There’s no downtime. Once the procedure is done, you can go about your day just like normal.
Disadvantages Of Laser Fat Treatment:
- It takes a while to see results. The earliest you can count on visible results is four weeks, but since fat takes time to absorb, it’s more like six to eight weeks to see any changes.
- It can’t deal with large concentrations of fat. Laser lipolysis works better on small areas of fat as a finishing treatment for the stubborn areas that just won’t slim out no matter what you do.
- It’s a cosmetic treatment, not a method of weight loss. A healthy lifestyle is still necessary to maintain your body after the fat is lasered out. If you don’t take care of your body, the fat will simply come back.
As we can see from the disadvantages, laser lipolysis isn’t really a magic answer to weight loss, so you’ll need to combine this with the lifestyle changes so that you can be a fit candidate for laser lipo.
Putting It All Together
The reality is that we live in a world of instant gratification. We want the best, and we want it now! Unfortunately, when it comes to weight-loss, a slow methodical plan is often many times more effective than a quick fix.
If you’re wondering how to lose belly fat, then you need to stack all the cards in your favor. You need to get your diet in check, you need to incorporate an exercise routine, and then you can use proven treatments like laser lipolysis to really get the engine going.
Dr Chen Tai Ho is the founder of Premier Clinic. He has over 18+ years of experience in aesthetic practices. Earned his double degree in 2001 from National University of Malaysia (UKM) and certificate and diploma in Aesthetic Medicine from the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine.