Belly fat, or more specifically, getting rid of belly fat, is a popular topic among slimmers. Getting active and fit for many is a difficult mission especially when trying to focus on a specific area and getting little results. But don’t be discouraged. Personal trainer and body transformation expert, Elliott Upton from Ultimate Performance, has created a list of top tips for slimmers who are specifically trying to target that stubborn belly fat.
Top tips to lose stubborn belly fat
1. Calorie Counting
“There is no way around it, calories count,” explained Elliot Upton. “In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume,” he added.
He revealed that many slimmers struggle to lose weight due to consumption of too many calories, he said: “Many of us have a hard time losing weight because we’re simply consuming too many calories day to day.
“The key is shifting your ‘energy balance’ towards burning fat and losing weight – this means you need to be in a ‘calorie deficit’.”
Calorie deficit simply means a person needs to consume fewer calories to create the right conditions to encourage weight loss.
Elliot added: “A simple way to do this is to find out what your ‘maintenance level’ is (the amount of calories your body uses to maintain weight) and then simply reduce this intake between 10-20 percent.
“The next step is all about consistency and tracking what, and how much, you’re eating to make sure you’re remaining in a calorie deficit to sustain this weight loss and not unknowingly straying into a ‘calorie surplus’ and gaining weight.
“This is the ‘secret’ behind any diet – whether that’s Paleo, Pescatarian, Vegan, Keto, Atkins or whatever the latest fad is – you’ll lose weight simply because of the calorie deficit,” he explained.
2. Eat protein for every meal
According to Elliot, every body transformation client at Ultimate Performance is advised to eat a good source of protein for every meal, he explained why: “The primary reason [to eat protein every meal] is to do with body composition.
“If we are looking to achieve a lean and muscular aesthetic when losing weight, we want to only lose fat but preserve the muscle we have.
“Protein is responsible for the repair and regrowth of muscle tissue – so getting a good source of protein in at every meal is important to preserve the muscle we have, especially if we’re in a calorie deficit,” he explained further.
Not only is protein responsible for the repair and regrowth of muscle tissue, but protein is really satiating. This means it will help a slimmer feel full for a lot longer, so it reduces the likelihood of getting hungry between meals, falling off the wagon and snacking on calorie-laden junk foods that may dent a slimmers weight loss efforts.
“Women should aim to eat between 20-30g of protein per meal,” added Elliot.
3. Prepare meals
Successful and sustainable weight loss comes from keeping on top of the diet.
“If you’re already tracking your calories and macros, something that will pretty much guarantee success is preparing your meals for the day well in advance,” said Elliot.
“By having your meals measured and prepared ready for the day means you’re less likely to be caught short without a healthy meal, where it’s likely you will grab the nearest convenience food which often won’t benefit your weight loss goals,” explained Elliot.
Two simple tips to help slimmers become food prep masters according to Elliot are:
-Buy food in bulk. “It’s more cost-effective and you can portion it out – whether that’s your protein, vegetable or bags of nuts,” he said.
-Batch cook your food. “Find recipes you love and match your weight loss goals, and then cook a batch in one go so you can portion them out and freeze them for a later date. It will save you loads of time in the long run,” he suggested.
4. Reduce carbs initially
“Carbs are not the devil,” said Elliot. “There’s a time and place in every body transformation plan for carbs.
“However, if you’re starting a weight loss journey and you’re carrying excess weight and your body is inflamed, a period of low carb eating can be really beneficial for kick-starting weight loss.
“It’s always best to start by cutting out highly-processed sources of carbs from your diet (bread, pasta, cereal and baked goods) and replacing them with green vegetables and carb sources with a lower glycemic load (like sweet potato).” he suggested.
Elliot explained that green vegetables are particularly good as they’re full of vitamins and minerals, but also because they’re very low in calories, therefore slimmers can eat them in large quantities without pushing the calorie count up too high.
The high fibre content of green vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli also aids digestion and helps keep slimmers feeling fuller for longer.
5.Eat healthy fats
“Just like carbs, fats have a bad reputation,” said Elliot. “It’s not fat that makes you fat, it’s simply eating too many calories that makes you fat,” he explained.
The thing to remember with fats is that they contain more calories than protein and carbs, so they’re just easier to overeat.
Losing weight and living a lean and healthy lifestyle actually requires slimmers to incorporate some essential fats in their diet.
“Fats become even more important if you’re reducing your intake of carbs – a low fat and low carb diet is the recipe for dietary disaster,” said Elliot.
“Fat is a great energy source when you’re low carb dieting – but that’s not all.
“It is vital to hormone production and it aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A,D,E and K.
“It is also important for cell membrane health and managing inflammation and metabolism,” he added.
6. Boost activity levels
Losing weight goes hand in hand with a healthy, well-balanced diet and daily bursts of fitness.
“If you want to lose weight, you need to increase your activity levels – and not just the 60 minutes you spend working out at the gym either,” said Elliot.
“By this, we mean moving more and increasing the amount of activity you do during the whole day.
“So many people fall into the trap of thinking all they need to do is a quick hour session in the gym to lose weight. But if they’re sedentary for the other 23 hours in the day, their overall energy expenditure will still be pretty low.”
According to Elliot, a slimmers activity levels play a big part in whether they lose weight or not.
“One of the biggest weight loss tools that everyone overlooks is something called ‘non-exercise activity thermogenesis’ (NEAT).
“Put simply, this is the energy you use doing day-to-day activities that aren’t exercise – things like shopping, cleaning, walking and even fidgeting at your desk.
“It can be a game-changer where weight loss is concerned.
“We always advise clients to aim for 10,000 steps per day and build in activities like walking to work, taking the stairs and carrying the shopping home to their routine which boost the calorie burn far more than a quick session in the gym.”
7. Resistance training
According to Elliot Upton, following a progressive, well-structured and challenging weight training program consistently is one of the most effective ways to affect fast and far-reaching body composition change.
“Performing big ‘compound’ exercises like the squat, deadlifts and pull-ups are a great bang-for-your-buck way to recruit more muscle mass in training and burn more calories,” said Elliot.
“These exercises should be prioritized above isolation exercises like leg extensions and bicep curls if fat loss is your goal.
“If you are trying to lose fat and shed some unwanted pounds, lifting hard and heavy is incredibly effective. Doing 1,000 reps with a 2kg dumbbell isn’t enough to stimulate muscle growth needed to improve body composition.
“If you’re new to weightlifting, it’s best to start out performing a full-body workout programme three times a week,” he recommended.
8. Drink more water
Making sure a slimmer is drinking enough water is a crucial part of any weight loss plan for many reasons.
According to Elliot: “Water ensures your brain and body are functioning optimally – remember, dehydration downregulates every cellular process in the body.
“Not consuming enough water during the day dents muscle protein synthesis and even 3 percent dehydration can impair your strength, power and performance output in the gym.
“More specific to weight loss, not getting enough water means your liver will metabolise less fat as it has to step in and assume some of the functions of your kidneys when dehydration sets in,” he explained.
A useful tip anyone can use is drinking a glass or two of water 10 minutes before eating a meal – it really helps with dietary adherence and curtails overeating.
9. Improve sleep
The relationship between sleep and weight loss has long been documented by science.
According to Elliot, sleep underpins optimal health, recovery and performance and is vitally important when trying to lose weight.
“Sleep lays the foundation for a healthy hormone balance in the body,” he said.
“Testosterone and growth hormone levels (important for both men and women) reach peak production while you sleep at night – they’re key hormones to help improve your body composition.
“Quality sleep also reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Conversely, when you’re sleep deprived, cortisol levels increase to help keep the body running – this, however, results in fatigue, food cravings, mental fog and lower ‘real’ energy.
“Sleep is a cornerstone of sustainable weight loss and we advise every body transformation client at Ultimate Performance to get around 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night,” he added.