Hey babes we are back at it again with another episode in my #FitnessUnfcked series. One of the most common questions I get has to deal with losing weight and in particular, belly fat. I myself struggle with this a ton largely because of genetics. While I can easily gain weight in my legs & put on size on my booty, my belly is just bleh.
When this “belly fat” question came up, I thought it was a perfect topic for #FitnessUnfcked
If you’re not sure what’s up with this series, you should definitely check out this post where my guest fitness writer, Hemant Pooran*, debunks 5 common fitness myths. Long story short, #FitnessUnfcked is a weekly fitness series on my blog where I have my guest writer discuss various aspects of fitness especially geared to women. Today, it’s gonna be all about losing fat.
What exactly is belly fat?
Belly fat, also called visceral fat, is arguably the most stubborn type of fat to get rid of. It is more than just a nuisance that can ruin the fit of your clothes, often leaving on display very unflattering ‘bulges’. Visceral fat, when unchecked, can also present a serious threat to your health, being a risk factor for type II diabetes and heart disease, to name a few.
Whether you like it or not, our genetics largely determine how and where we store and lose fat. This means that fat loss is largely specific to the individual.
Can you get rid of belly fat ALONE?
There’s a common misconception where a lot of people believe that you can actually get rid of belly fat only i.e. “spot reduced”. The sad part is that this is not true. You cannot just loose belly fat and only belly fat, without losing fat in other parts of your body.
There’s also a plethora of drugs on the market claiming to significantly reduce belly fat, but most of these quick fixes are unsafe and unsustainable in the long term.
Any kind of fat burning effort (diet and exercise) will result in fat loss throughout your body, including your belly. Again, your genetics will determine how much of the fat loss occurs in your belly/midsection as compared to other areas.
What do you do if you want to lose fat?
In order to maximize fat loss, you need to firstly create the right conditions in your body to achieve this, and then, the rest is up to genetics.
Here are 4 keys ways that you can create these conditions for maximum fat loss
Calories In < Calories Out
The total calories in/consumed must be less than total calories expended e.g. through exercise. All foods we consume contain calories (units of energy).
- 1 gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories
These macronutrients make up the majority of the energy sources our body uses. When reducing your caloric intake they should be cut first from carbohydrates, while maintaining your protein and fats.
Exercise more, use more fat as fuel
Our body needs an energy source(s) to carry out its functions as well as activities such as exercising. The main sources of energy come from carbohydrates (contained in foods like potato, rice, oatmeal and any type of refined sugar) and fats (such as olive oil, coconut oil and body fat).
The higher the demand for energy, the more fuel it needs to burn. You need to increase the demand for energy (e.g. with exercise) and make body fat the fuel of choice. To ensure fat is the primary fuel source we need to reduce the availability of any other major fuel source i.e. carbohydrates
P.S. here’s one of my leg workouts that I posted on Instagram!
Lift weights, do cardio, get out of breath, feel the burn
The type of exercise you do should be metabolic in nature i.e. stressing your metabolic system. You want to achieve that ‘out of breath’ feeling while you’re working out. This is best achieved with a mix of resistance (weight) training and cardio- once key points are observed such as short rest periods. Interval training is a technique that has proven successful for fat burning.
Roxy: if you would like to discuss workout techniques in another blog post, lemme know!
Eat less carbs, but more protein and healthy fats
Sugar is your enemy here. This includes refined sugars found in sweet foods and beverages as well as carbohydrate dense foods such as bread and pasta (which are metabolized into simple sugars by the body).
Sugar can cause your insulin hormone to spike resulting in fat storage. Insulin isn’t always bad and its function is actually quite useful for nutrient uptake to muscles such as after a workout. However, for the rest of the time you want your insulin to remain at bay.
A diet low in carbohydrates is optimal for fat loss so ideally, you need to consume more protein and healthy fats.
There are also diet techniques such as intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets that can be employed for short periods, but that’s definitely for another post.
Here are some other daily habits you can add to ensure maximum fat loss.
Hope you enjoyed this post in my #FitnessUnfcked series & it answered some of your questions on fat loss. Look out for another one next Friday!
Questions? Ask here.
*Hemant Pooran is a (sexy AF) ISSA certified fitness instructor with over 10 years experience in the world of fitness & nutrition. He’s been my friend for a few years and I know that he knows his way well around the fitness world. When I first thought about this idea, he immediately jumped into my mind. Hope he can clarify any questions you have & help you out in your own fitness journey.