“How to burn belly fat” is likely (don’t quote me on this, but I can only imagine) one of the top-searched terms on Google related to fitness and health.
And for good reason. After all, who doesn’t want to lose fat, especially around the belly area?
The reason so many of us have this question has a lot of layers, and I think it’s important that we go through these layers thoroughly, so you can finally not only lose belly fat, but by understanding why it accumulates, you can keep it off.
First things first when we talk “burning belly fat”: you cannot “spot reduce.” This means that when you lose fat, you lose fat as a whole, and can’t necessarily target one area to lose more fat than another area.
For instance, many people believe training their core in any way might help them lose belly fat, but this is not the case. You may store more fat in your belly than elsewhere, so when you begin to lose weight as a whole, you may lose it from there, but you cannot lose it from a specific place only. This is why you’ll notice I don’t recommend “core” work to reduce fat – instead, we’ll be focusing on holistic ways to reduce accumulation around the belly, while burning extra fat as a whole.
Below we’ll not only look at the optimal diet for losing belly fat and exercise, etc … but also some little-known methods you probably haven’t heard about that can be extremely effective.
How to Burn Belly Fat
- Diet is Everything
There’s a reason for the saying “abs are made in the kitchen.” It’s absolutely true.
The foods you are consuming can either stimulate fat storage, or encourage leanness. They can either balance your hormones (which influences fat storage) or wreak havoc on them (which can easily cause fat gain). At the end of the day, what you are consuming as well as how much will make or break your physique and overall health.
Processed foods like breads, pastas, cookies, flours, and other carbs and sugary foods rapidly spike your blood sugar to levels that natural foods would never be able to. Typically, your body uses (natural) carbs and sugars in your bloodstream as fuel for activity, since these are released slowly and steadily into your blood due to their natural fiber and enzyme content.
However, when you consume processed foods, these fibers are removed, so your blood stream is flooded with an extremely high amount of sugars (more than can possibly be burned for fuel). To help bring you blood sugar levels down before it causes damage (that’s right, high blood sugar can damage your body) it pumps out insulin to inject the sugars into your cells, while storing the rest as … FAT.
Now, if you continue to eat processed carbs and sugars, this becomes a cycle. You body continuously stores excess sugars as fat, and insulin eventually becomes ineffective as your cells begin to resist it … causing you to store even more fat. As such, every time you eat you can count on storing fat.
As you can imagine, this creates a pretty high amount of stress on your body, and your body responds by releasing the stress hormone, cortisol. We’ll get more into this in the next section, but the key takeaway to remember is that high cortisol is directly linked with the accumulation of belly fat.
At the end of the day, we can see how eating processed and sugary foods can lead directly to the accumulation of belly fat that becomes hard to lose.
What to avoid eating to lose belly fat:
• All processed foods, including flours, breads, cakes, cookies, pastas, muffins, pies, candy, chocolate bars, granola bars
• All foods with added sugars, including fruit juices, protein bars, energy drinks, soda, and even some bottled “health” drinks (always read the label and consume nothing with more than 6-8 grams added sugar)
• Commercial dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
Foods to eat to lose belly fat:
• Wild, grass fed, organic meats including chicken, turkey, venison, beef, etc …
• Wild-caught fish including salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc …
• All veggies, including brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, etc …
• Cold-pressed virgin olive, avocado, and coconut oils
• Fruits like berries, citrus, apples, etc …
• Nuts and seeds
• Winter squash like butternut and kabocha, as well as sweet potatoes
• Quinoa and beans like chickpeas and black beans
• 70% or higher dark chocolate
• Nut milks like almond and coconut (unsweetened) as well as nut milk yogurts (unsweetened)
• No-sugar-added things like hummus and organic salad dressings
• Almond flour baked goods with stevia or raw honey as a sweetener
• Stevia to sweeten
The key here is to focus only on natural foods only, with small amounts of natural sugars or treats.
2. Reduce Cortisol
As we saw earlier, high cortisol levels are directly linked to abdominal obesity. Cortisol is released in response to stress, which can take any form: from the stress or being in a car accident to work or family stress. In fact, we’ve seen a rise in abdominal obesity, which is likely due to the chronic levels of stress we experience daily in our modern lifestyles.
Much of this stress comes from things we kind of “have” to deal with, such as from our careers, so what can we do?
An excellent way to combat stress and reduce cortisol levels is to try taking an adaptogen herb regularly. These are a class of herbs that help strengthen your body against the negative effects of stress, reduce cortisol levels, and improve your overall response to stress.
Some adaptogen herbs include: Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola Rosea, Ginseng, and Schisandra.
3. Try HIIT
When we talk fat-burning, we have to talk high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Most of my workouts and programs revolve around high-intensity interval training, which I call “rapid-fire” movements.
This style of training has proven in studies to be one of the most effective forms of training to burn fat.
The reason it is so effective is not only due to the amount of calories you burn, but also the fact that working out at such an intense level actually makes you cells more efficient at burning fat. In other words, it increases your metabolic efficiency.
Studies show that HIIT can help you lose significant amounts of belly fat, so check out one of my versions of HIIT here.
“Detox” is a somewhat general term thrown around these days, but the idea of clearing out your body may actually help you lose stubborn fat (like that around your belly).
Toxins are stored in our fat cells in order to keep them away from other tissues in our body, where they could cause harm. Because of this, if your body fat is loaded with toxins, it may “resist” releasing fat, and/or you may feel slightly run-down as you begin to lose fat. Not to mention, toxic chemicals can also disrupt your endocrine system (your hormone production) as well as stress out your body (again increasing cortisol levels and belly fat storage).
This is why helping your body absorb and get rid of these toxins may assist in overall fat loss. Here are a few detoxifying herbs and agents to consider:
• Dandelion root (supports the liver with detoxing)
• Activated charcoal (helps adsorb and remove a lot of toxins from your body)
• Burdock root
• Cranberry (supports kidneys)
• Herbal colon cleanses to flush waste from your intestines
With these four pillars, you’ll be on your way to losing belly fat and keeping it off.
Check out my 6-Week Ripped Warrior Program for complete, step-by,step guidance on shredding (even that belly fat!)
This 6-week program will focus on functional gains by utilizing a weighted, hybrid and bodyweight workout approach to fast track your goals for gains! Subscribe to the MV Fit App and download the FREE TRIAL for access now.