How to lose belly fat

13 January 2017

The dreaded belly fat is the bane of many people’s lives. There seem to be endless tips and miraculous fixes on how to lose it, which flood the internet each day. But how can you separate fact from fiction? I’ll describe exactly what you need to do to lose the belly fat to improve your appearance – and more importantly, your health.

A woman out jogging

What’s the problem?

While it may be inconvenient that you can’t squeeze into your favourite pair of jeans, there are far more serious consequences of carrying fat around your middle.

Being overweight in general puts you at a greater risk of getting a range of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And if you carry fat around your middle, research shows your risk of these diseases is even greater. It’s thought to be more harmful because these fat cells produce toxic substances that can damage your body.

Belly fat myth busting

There are so many claims on how to lose belly fat. Here’s just a few that I can quash for you…

  • You need to do stomach crunches every day. No amount of sit-ups is going to break down a bulge around your middle. Belly fat is simply where your body stores energy, so you need to take a whole-body approach to tackling it. You need to work your whole body to burn fat – not just your stomach muscles in isolation.
  • Crash diet. Crash diets (dramatically cutting down how much you eat) might help you to lose a few pounds at first. But they won’t help you to keep off the weight in the long run. As soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake, you will likely put the weight straight back on again.
  • Only the gym has the answer. If you like going to the gym then go for it, but it’s not the only way to get active and lose weight. There are plenty of ways to exercise for free, from running in your lunch hour to swapping the bus for your bike. There are even devoted classes to exercise with your baby, so don’t use lack of time as an excuse. Be inventive!

How to lose it for real

There aren’t any quick fixes for losing belly fat. The best approach is to simply eat a healthy diet, cutting out unnecessary calories, and to get plenty of exercise.

  • A healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish and good fats – like those found in olive oil, avocados and oily fish. Eat less saturated fat and sugar, and cook fresh instead of opting for ready meals. And if you’re still struggling, perhaps you need to reduce your portion sizes to reduce your calorie intake. See our other tips for healthy eating.
  • Exercise more. If you don’t get enough exercise in the day, your body will store the extra calories you take in from food as fat. So, if you really want to lose that belly fat, make a plan to get more active. Try out some new sports or activities to find one you enjoy. Here’s how to get started. If you’re strapped for time, get some quick wins throughout the day. Walk rather than get the bus and opt for the stairs over escalators. You can even exercise while watching TV!

Trust me, if you balance eating well with exercising, you’ll banish that belly for good – and reunite with that favourite pair of jeans!

Dietitian at Bupa UK

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