Losing weight is a goal that many of us share in common. Almost everyone, barring the most extreme ectomorph, has at some point had this aim – in many cases perpetually. This is a testament to how difficult it is to lose weight, as well as how common it is to have more body fat than you’d like. Carrying extra fat doesn’t just look bad, it makes you feel tired and sluggish, it’s bad for your health and it can even shorten your lifespan.
And of all the types of fat that people want to get rid of though, it’s midsection fat that is by far the most unpopular. Midsection fat is of course the extra fat that we carry around our stomachs, which is one of the least attractive and most common types. Beer bellies make us look like we eat too much and like we don’t get enough exercise. They ruin how we look in our clothes and they affect our whole posture.
What’s worse though, is that belly fat is often indicative of the presence of visceral fat – the type of fat that surrounds our organs. This is the most unhealthy and dangerous type of fat of all and if it’s left un-checked it can be seriously bad for you.
So what can you do about it? How do you go about getting rid of that flab?
Some Things You Need to Understand About Fat
When it comes to losing fat around your midsection, there’s a bit of bad news: it can’t be done. That isn’t to say you’ll never be able to burn midsection fat but rather just that you can’t burn midsection fat specifically. Likewise, you can’t specifically target the fat under your arms, or the fat on your legs.
The problem is that the body will always burn fat in a pre-determined order based on genetics and other factors. Normally this is based on the rule of ‘last in, first out’ – much like a good employer. So if the last place you gained weight was around your face, that means that your face will be the first place to lose that extra weight when you start exercising and dieting.
This means that for some people, midsection fat will be the last to go. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about this: your only recourse is to keep training and dieting until you start to burn that fat around the stomach that you’re so keen to get rid of.
And also unfortunate, is that this also applies to visceral fat. The only way to keep visceral (dangerous) fat down, is to keep all fat down.
With that in mind, how do you go about burning fat as efficiently as possible?
How to Burn Fat
There are a large number of theories and recommendations when it comes to burning fat but a few points definitely stand out as being particularly universal and particularly effective.
The first of these relates to diet. The best way to lose fat quickly through your diet is by reducing your caloric intake to be below the number of calories you’re burning. In other words, as long as you’re burning off more calories than you’re consuming you will lose weight. This is an iron clad rule and it applies regardless of who you are or what other diet theories you subscribe to.
That said, calculating the precise number of calories in your diet every day is hard work and it’s not something that most people will be able or willing to do. That’s why a better strategy might be to approach the question in a more ‘vague’ way. Look for some of the foods that you’re eating currently that include a lot of calories and replace these with lower calorie alternatives. Likewise, add up how much you normally eat for lunch and breakfast and try to keep these figures fairly consistent. Keep in mind that the average person will burn about 2,000 calories a day and see if you can get significantly under this number most days. It doesn’t have to be an exact science – what’s more important is that you’re consistent and able to stick at it.
In terms of exercise, cardiovascular training such as going for long runs is what most people will use in order to target their stomach fat. The problem with this strategy, is that it takes a lot of time and a rather large commitment if it’s going to be successful. As it happens, there are more effective methods available that appear to burn more fat in less time.
One example is HIIT training. This stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ – a type of training that involves alternating between periods of intense exertion and periods of ‘active recovery’. Run at 90% of your top speed for one minute for instance, then jog lightly for three minutes and repeat. This way you can burn more fat by putting your body in an anaerobic state – and studies show that it can also increase the amount of energy you burn subsequently.
Another thing to consider is using weight training and resistance training. Many people looking to lose weight will ignore resistance training seeing this instead as a way to build muscle. In reality though, it’s actually just as effective at burning calories as running on a treadmill and can trigger some hormonal responses that will be conducive to weight loss. Best of all: once you’ve built muscle, you’ll increase your body’s metabolism so that it burns more fat even when you’re sleeping!
If you are going to use jogging to lose weight though, then consider going on one or two six mile runs a week. This will be enough to burn a good 700-1,500 calories each week but it’s realistic to incorporate into your routine.
Flattening Your Stomach
If you keep your calories low and use one of the training methods advised above, then you will gradually start to see the pounds fall off and your stomach start to flatten.
If you want to accelerate the aesthetic benefits though, then something else you can do is to incorporate some training for your abs as well. Training your abs through sit ups and crunches won’t directly lead to fat loss around the stomach – however it can help to tone the muscle around there which can disguise the appearance of fat by tightening the midsection up.
In particular, you should aim to train the transverse abdominis – the band of muscle that surrounds the midsection and back. This is sometimes known as ‘nature’s weight belt’ and it’s useful for holding your stomach in and supporting your core. Train this area by using stomach vacuums (trying to pull your belly button in toward your spine) or by using exercises like plank that force you to hold your core steady for short periods.
This will help you to see results more quickly but make sure that you’re patient and consistent. The best type of weight loss is weight loss that lasts. This is very much a case of slow and steady winning the race!