This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
It doesn't matter how many core workouts you find online — belly fat is stubborn and weight loss is hard.
Even if you're not shooting for a six-pack, dropping belly fat can be challenging. In fact, belly fat is known to be one of the most difficult fats to lose.
Stomach fat is tough to shed because of the difference between subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous or "pinchable" fat is found directly underneath the skin. Visceral fat, however, attaches itself to the internal organs in your abdomen.
Chronic kidney disease
Fatty liver disease
Increased cancer risk
Both subcutaneous and visceral stomach fat is often caused by poor diet and/or lack of exercise. So if you're making weight loss a goal this year, read on to learn the best ways to get rid of stubborn belly fat.
Change your drinking habits
Drinking alcohol is a major cause of belly fat. Consuming empty calories in any form can lead to weight gain. However, alcohol is particularly fattening as it's full of carbohydrates and sugar that add to your stomach fat.
Another source of empty calories and excessive sugar is pop. Consuming too much added sugar is linked to several health risks, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
If you want to change your drinking habits to lose belly fat, consider beverages lower in sugar and calories, such as green tea and water.
Switch to good fats
Unfortunately, many enticing meals contain foods rich in saturated and trans fats, which can add to the stomach fat you're looking to lose. You need some fat in a healthy diet, but saturated and trans fats aren't the way to go.
Instead, eliminate the bad fats in your diet and replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These good fats can be found in some delicious foods and ingredients such as:
Look to replace butter with olive oil, processed meats with fish, and chips with nuts or seeds to get the healthy fat you need while decreasing belly fat.
Get enough sleep
If you're trying to lose weight, getting enough sleep is essential. Studies show that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain in several ways.
Lack of sleep makes it harder for you to resist temptation, so if there's something tasty sitting on the kitchen countertop at two in the morning, you're much more likely to give in.
Not getting enough sleep also disrupts the balance of hormones that regulate your appetite, and research has shown that those who sleep less consume an average of 385 more calories per day than those who get more sleep.
So, how much sleep should you be getting for weight loss? Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is ideal.
When it comes to getting rid of belly fat, staying active is key. Not just crunches and sit-ups, but a combination of exercises like running, swimming and cycling will also help you burn off stubborn belly fat.
If you're not used to doing aerobic workouts, start slowly — walking for 30 minutes daily is a great place to begin. Additionally, dancing and hiking are fun ways to complete an aerobic workout. Either way, the key is to keep active.
It's not just cardio that's good for dropping belly fat — weight training and resistance workouts are other great options. Weight and resistance workouts like deadlifts, lunges and seated rows can all cut down on unwanted stomach fat.
Replace refined carbs with whole grains
Monitor the carbs you're consuming. Like fat, your body needs some carbs for energy, but the wrong carbs will add fat to your waistline.
Work on replacing refined carbs with whole grains. Whole grains like barley and oatmeal slow digestion, which makes you feel full for longer — plus, they're great sources of fibre. This means they can help with weight loss when eaten instead of processed foods like white bread or pasta.
Brown rice and quinoa are great substitutes for refined-carb dishes. Take a look at some of these easy-to-make dishes to get your daily dose of healthy carbs.
In addition to satiating your appetite, protein helps you burn belly fat by having a higher thermic effect — TEE. This means that it burns more calories to digest than carbs or fat. So, by consuming more protein in your diet, you're actually burning calories.
It's not just lean meat like chicken that's a great source of protein in a fat-burning diet. Foods like edamame, lentils and eggs are all great sources of protein to keep you full throughout the day and can help you reach your weight loss goals.
Reduce your stress
Research shows that chronic stress increases belly fat by causing hormonal changes that increase appetite. How? Stress produces cortisol — also known as the stress hormone. Research has shown that high cortisol levels increase your appetite — especially for tasty foods that cause belly fat.
To stop stress from contributing to your waistline, look for activities that relieve your stress. Various forms of exercise like yoga and walking help ease stress levels while also contributing to your daily calorie-burning exercise.
Trimming belly fat isn't just about changing your appearance — it's about building a lifestyle that improves your health and happiness. This lifestyle can be challenging at first, but if you commit to it, you'll soon feel the changes and be thankful that you changed your life.