Belly fat. Love handles. Muffin top. Abdominal fat is not a joke. It creeps up on you like a former boyfriend does on Facebook. One day, you feel confident in a bikini. The next… it feels like your jeans don’t fit, your favorite slinky tops look awkward and your bikini is not even an option. Women especially have a hard time with belly fat, thanks to our hormonal shifts, but it is a problem for men too. Let’s explore why belly fat happens and, more importantly, how to get your workouts and your nutrition to destroy it!

Belly fat can be the result from one or many issues including body type and hereditary makeup, which, of course, you can’t help! However, many other factors you can including:

  • Stress:

    Cortisol and adrenaline contribute to the build up of abdominal fat. Specifically, stress causes visceral fat, which is the most toxic to our organs and heart. This fat build up is to protect the organs and heart from damage from the cortisol, which is a very ironic feedback loop.

  • Nutrition:

    Food intolerances and an overload of carbohydrates can cause the belly fat to pile up. Becoming gluten free is a popular fad right now; however, many swear gluten was causing not only their belly fat, but their bloating issues too.

  • Sitting:

    We all have to work, but sitting is the leading cause of obesity. Sitting for hours at a time can cause havoc on your abdominal region including not only weight gain but also weak core muscles and back problems.

So how can you get your bikini body back while keeping your job? Let’s talk about 5 ways to beat belly fat for good!

  1. Stress Management:

    The chemical and health effects of stress cause around 80% of people’s health problems and contribute to the same amount, or more, of causes of death. Stress, cortisol and adrenaline are not a joking matter and figuring out how to mitigate the stress in your life is important. Stress hormones calm down during slow breathing (like #2 sleep below) and activities that promote the release of acetycholine, which is the opposing hormone to cortisol and has been found in high amounts in calm professions such as monks and clergy. Meditation, yoga, podcasts, aromatherapy and art are all stress-relieving activities (to name a few!). Find your Zen.

  2. Sleep:

    Sleep is how the body heals and repairs itself. The body cannot live without sleep; after a mere 24 hour period without sleep, the body already begins to change including hormonal shifts and metabolic changes. Sleep provides the needed repair time for cellular and organ function and, when that balance is thrown off, the consequences are alarming. Those who lack sleep also have an increased appetite despite a slower metabolic rate, providing even more ground for belly fat to creep in. Studies have also shown that those who are sleep deprived exercise less, a natural consequence of being exhausted and also contributing to weight gain.

  3. Belly Blast Your Diet:

    Reducing or eliminating sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and refined sugars is key to losing belly fat. These foods not only contribute to weight gain, but all have also been linked by researchers to obesity, diabetes, heart problems, cancer and other inflammatory illnesses. Start small– replace your diet soda with water or sparkling water one week and then change another habit the next. Withdrawing from chemicals and sugar can be hard, so pace yourself for success. Alcohol, in all forms, gluten, and dairy are other foods and drinks that can really pack on the belly fat pounds. Liquor, beer and wine are naturally full of sugar and/or carbohydrates (and the sugary drinks we mix it with). Gluten and dairy are two foods groups that, upon eliminating refined and sugar-laden products, if you still aren’t seeing results, considering looking at your gluten and dairy consumption.

  4. Walking:

    10,000 steps per day is the bar set by governments as the healthy number of steps per day that a person should take, which is roughly 4 miles. Getting 10,000 steps per day should be the bare minimum for someone trying to lose belly fat; getting moving is key to the equation and undoing the sitting at your office you do all day is a huge part of that! Try walking meetings, where you discuss a work issue while going for a walk. Find a buddy who also wants to get moving and becomes your lunch hour walking buddy. In a mere hour without even breaking a sweat, you can get a good 7-8,000 steps in. Next, take the stairs- both up & down! Getting those steps in while you get your daily coffee can provide even more belly-blasting steps and with the extra cardio of stairs! Finally, when the weather is nice, making walking is a great part of your life. Walk places with your main squeeze, go for a walk and tea with a friend, walk to the store instead of drive… the steps will add up and your belly will flatten out! Bonus points if you hold in your core while you walk too, adding in more ab-tightening work!

  5. Interval Training:

    High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and the variations on it have caught on for a reason- aside from the strength benefits in a short period of time, according to a recent study, those who interval train showed 10-15% more belly fat loss over those who just did steady-state cardio like the elliptical or jogging. For excellent HIIT routines, check some out from beginner to advanced right here on FitBodyHQ.

Summer is fast approaching. Get moving, get your Zen, and get your way back into the bathing suit you want for summer with these 5 techniques. Some may be easier than others; if you are really struggling, try an app for calorie/ nutritional metric and exercise tracking or use a good old-fashioned journal to keep yourself on target.

Christy Lyons

Christy Lyons, M.A., PHR, is a former corporate wellness company owner & freelance Yoga, Pilates, and barre/toning instructor. As an E-RYT, she has been teaching yoga since 2007 and has also run 2 teacher training programs. She is an NASM-CPT and specialized in working with clients with autoimmune diseases, spinal injuries, and other unique cases. After selling her business in 2013, Christy... Read More

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