This post covers some of the things that I (woman over 40 years old) have personally tried to successfully lose 9 pounds in 2 weeks. You might be surprised that it includes sleeping for longer and burning away belly fat without exercise.
Belly fat can be a real challenge when it comes to losing weight. It’s not just because of the amount that you have, but also how much of your body mass is composed of this type of fat.
It is also going to depend on your age, gender, genetics and daily activity level. Moreover, the higher amount of visceral abdominal fat you have is not a good indicator for your health. Visceral or intra-abdominal fat can be dangerous because it increases risk factors associated with heart disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels.
Having said that, we do need a certain amount of visceral fat, just not too much of it. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to help reduce and eliminate belly fat and even overall body fat from your life!
Cut Back On Sugar
According to Dr Michael Mosley, in his book, the 8-week Blood Sugar Diet, which focuses on cutting out fat with rapid weight loss mentions that you need to cut back on sweets, sugary treats, soft drinks and desserts to no more than once or twice a week (page 118). Sugar substitutes such as stevia are a good substitute but weaning yourself off sugar is really the way to go.
This also includes the white starchy foods such as white bread and some wholemeal breads that may have added sugar. You will need to check the nutrition facts. You are better off with quinoa, whole rye or buckwheat. Eating legumes such as lentils and kidney beans are more filling and will keep you fuller for longer.
Eat smaller meals during the day
Prepare a meal plan that will get you into a routine of eating smaller meals throughout the day. This is one way to help reduce your appetite and eat less overall, which can lead to weight loss.
It’s also important to make sure you are getting enough calories each day so don’t go too long between meals or else you’ll be hungry when it comes time for dinner. Your stomach will thank you for it as you will be placing less load on it during digestion and will help reduce the symptoms of dizziness.
Keeping up with hydration
You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day (approximately 2 litres) but it’s going to differ from person to person. Water helps keep your metabolism running smoothly by flushing out toxins from your body. You can expect more bowel movements too which is also part of the process. Water flushes out toxins from our bodies and keeps us hydrated.
Besides water, you can drink fresh fruit juices or fruit infused drinks to keep your hydration up. Be sure to keep away from commercial fruit drinks as they are loaded with sugar.
Eat Fat Burning Foods
If you need to burn belly fat fast then protein and fibre are your new best friends in making this happen. You shouldn’t have to place any restriction in terms of what foods you can consume.
Otherwise, you’ll get yourself into hunger pangs and cravings that will tempt you to cheat on your diet unless you are somebody who has proven to themselves on many occasions to have the will and determination of a sage!
However, if you want to burn off those stubborn fats then you need to focus on consuming certain types of food. The following list contains some of the most effective fat burning foods;
1) Avocados — They contain healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and potassium which aids muscle contraction and blood pressure regulation respectively.
2) Bananas — They have been shown in studies to increase energy expenditure and decrease hunger pangs.
3) Nuts — Almonds especially has high amounts of vitamin E and magnesium which aid in reducing stress levels.
4) Olive Oil — A good source of antioxidants like Vitamin K & E, polyphenols and oleic acid.
5) Salmon — Rich in omega 3 fats which improves brain function and reduces inflammation.
6) Yogurt — High in protein and calcium which keeps bones strong.
7) Green Tea — Green tea contains catechins which boost metabolism and burn fat faster than caffeine alone.
8) Oatmeal — Contains soluble fiber which slows down absorption of food thus keeping you full longer.
9) Beans — These foods are rich in dietary fibre and low glycemic index carbohydrates which makes them ideal for people who want to maintain their insulin sensitivity while losing weight.
10) Whole Grain Breads — They provide slow release carbs which means that they won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
11) Berries — Strawberries and raspberries contain some of the highest fiber content found in berries, keeping you fuller for longer and are packed with antioxidant properties that fight free radicals.
12) Broccoli — Besides being an excellent source of vitamins C and K, broccoli is also very effective in fighting obesity due to its ability to lower cholesterol.
Eating foods high in protein helps to increase your metabolic rate and helps retain muscle mass in the process. However, figuring out the right amount protein to eat that is unique to your nutrient needs in order to lose weight is one of the factors you may consider trying a customised meal plan.
Processed foods such as potato chips and soft drinks are high in refined sugar and salt. Unless you are going to burn them off immediately through some rigorous activity or workout, it can lead to fat being stored around your belly instead.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
The term “beer gut” isn’t just a common saying.
Alcohol causes a sudden rise in appetite hormones called ghrelin and leptin. This leads to increased calorie intake and hence weight gain. It also increases cortisol production which further contributes the need to eat more and thus leading to excess belly or stomach fat.
The best way to avoid this unwanted side effect is to cut back on drinking altogether. If you must consume alcoholic beverages then do so only occasionally as we can not choose where the fat will go but the body tends to store it around the “beer gut” area.
Drink Green Tea Instead of Coffee
Green tea contains catechin compounds which boosts metabolism and burns fat faster than caffeine alone. Hence, if you’re looking to shed those extra pounds fast, try adding one cup of green tea per day into your diet plan, especially 30 mins before a meal as it will help suppress your appetite.
It’s important to note though that too much consumption of green tea may cause diarrhea. So make sure you drink it at least 2 hours before eating anything else.
Best Exercises For A Flat Stomach
Please consult your health care professional before attempting any of these suggested exercise routines.
Next, make sure that you have enough space to move around freely. If you live in a small apartment, try to move furniture aside so that you don’t bump into anything during your routine. Also, ensure that you wear comfortable clothes that won’t restrict movement.
1. Cardiovascular exercises
Try doing cardiovascular exercise (cardio) at least three times per week. Cardio helps reduce abdominal fat by increasing metabolic rate, heart rate, breathing capacity and improving circulation. These exercises can include running, cycling, swimming or rowing.
It’s important to note though that cardio doesn’t necessarily mean running marathons. You could simply opt for brisk walking or jogging. The key here is consistency. Do these activities regularly and gradually build up intensity over time.
High-intensity Interval Training or HIIT is one of my personal favourites that just gets you into cardio mode quickly and easily without a complicated workout regime.
This type of workout primarily focuses on short bursts of exercise that is especially good for burning off excess visceral fat and stubborn belly fat.
According to Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book, Feel Better in 5, this is my go-to workout if I find myself unable to do my usual 30-minute brisk walk just because weather is not permitting or life just gets in the way;
An Intermediate Level Daily 5 minute HIIT workout; 30 secs of Jumping Jacks, rest for 30 secs (then repeat 5 times)
Most of the time, at my last round I actually do 30 secs of mountain climbers that can really get the burn going through my thighs and core muscles.
If your endurance builds up and you feel like you’re up for a bigger challenge, go for an interval of 40 secs jumping jacks and 20 secs rest. Repeat these in 5 repetitions and that will give create your 5 minute workout. Best bit of all, is that I can always find 5 mins to spare out of my entire day.
I personally loathe burpees but I do not deny their effectiveness as I am fan of short and high impact bursts type of exercises.
Burpees are great for building strength and power while burning calories. They work well when combined with other forms of resistance training such as pushups, pullups, squats, lunges, planks, dips, kettlebell swings etc.
Method: Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart. Bend knees slightly and jump forward placing arms directly under shoulders. Land softly with legs fully extended. Jump again landing lightly on toes and pushing off from floor with heels. This counts as 1 repetition. Dr Rangan Chatterjee has stated that you can also swap out jumping jacks for burpees with the 5 minute workout routine as mentioned above.
3. High Knees Exercises
Another one of my personal “favourites” to work the abdominal muscles and burn away tough belly fat.
Method: High knee exercises involve raising both legs straight up towards the ceiling and then bringing them back down slowly. You may use any part of your body to raise your leg including hands, elbows, forearms, head, neck, torso, hips, shins, ankles, wrists, fingers etc. The key here is to keep your lower limbs stationary throughout the whole process.
The best form of high knee exercises involves keeping your upper body still and bringing up your knees as hard and as fast as you can until you can feel like you are out of breath by the end of 1 repetition.
Don’t always look for a way not to workout, as these exercises are simple because they do not require complicated equipment and readily accessible to anybody. Firstly, you do need to start off on an easy level to determine your current fitness level. Then slowly increase your difficulty and endurance level as you see fit.
Best Way To Lose Belly Fat Without Dieting Or Exercise
Another way to increase fat loss is through some form of caloric restriction. If you are not going to go burn the amount of calories you eat, you might as well limit the amount you consume.
1. Eat less than 500-800 calories daily (Not a Fan)
Eating at such a restrictive level is never really a thing for me and you should only do it if you are working with a health professional closely to monitor your progress.
Your daily calories need to be from good food sources and not processed food products or the ones with refined carbs that normally have artificial sweeteners in them. If you must have something sweet with your food or beverage, choose either stevia or monkfruit that do not contain any hidden starches or carbs. These are natural options that give you the taste of sugar but without the calories.
2. Intermittent Fasting (Big Fan)
This is one of the methods that has worked wonders for me. Just stop eating for a period of time. Simple. Additionally, this method has been shown to help reduce appetite and cravings. This means that when you eat again after the fasting period, you will feel fuller faster. You may even find yourself wanting more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables instead of junk food.
The best part about intermittent fasting is that you can easily incorporate it into your lifestyle by skipping breakfast every morning. For example, skip breakfast once per week and then take lunch break between 12pm – 3pm.
3. Sufficient Sleep (Big Fan)
A 2016 study stated that sleep deprived people consume about 385 kcal extra per day which is the equivalent of 4 slices of bread. If sleep deprivation continued in the long term, it may lead to weight gain. This is due to the disruption of the body’s internal clock as imbalances were found between the hormones leptin and ghrelin.
People who had about 3-5 hours sleep per day had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin levels which resulted in increase appetite and therefore, they were more likely to overeat during the day. As a result, please find time to turn in early so you’ll sleep better, wake up feeling refreshed, and be less likely to crave sugary snacks for a quick fix.
4. Chewing Your Food Properly (Big Fan)
This 2011 study showed that higher chewing counts lead to less food intake. Don’t take eating to be a chore or a race, take your time with your meal. This gives time for your body to signal the brain and let it know it is comfortably full before you have had too much.
3. Setting Up A Custom Fat Loss Meal Planner (Big Fan)
Wait a minute? I thought you said, “No exercise or diet to lose belly fat”!?
I know, I know setting up a fat loss program sounds like a diet straightaway. Diets tend to be restrictive, full of hassle and has a set menu that sucks. That’s why most people hate them.
But what if you could lose fat by being on a diet that doesn’t feel like one? It is all worked out for you so you don’t have to keep counting the calories, it’s going to give you exactly what you want to eat and make sure you have the right macronutrients to keep you losing fat the healthy way.
Your best bet is to go on a highly customisable meal planner that is going to work for you based on your age, gender, height, food preferences and daily activity level.
4. Try Fat Burning Spices
Adding herbs and spices to your food will give it a more wholesome and deeper flavour as compared to using salt and sugar. Moreover, they also add extra nutrients which helps boost metabolism and burns off those unwanted fats.
- Fenugreek — Sometimes they are known as methi seeds and its taste is similar to maple syrup. A 2010 small study discovered that consuming 4-8g of fenugreek fiber helped the participants to feel fuller for longer. Can be used for soups, curries or simply as a tea.
- Ginger — A 2019 study showed that participants who consumed steamed ginger ethanolic extract for 12 weeks combined with some lifestyle changes gave promising findings in their body mass and fat loss results. Ginger can be easily used in dishes with fish, soups, curries, vegetable stir fry or simply brewed as a tea.
- Turmeric — A 2019 study demonstrated that participants who ate supplements with at least 95% turmeric extract saw reduction in their waist and hip circumferences. Turmeric also contains anti-inflammatory properties that are great for reducing inflammation within our bodies. It can be added to any dish from rice to salads, sausages, burgers and curries.
- Chilli Pepper — Chilli is known to improve metabolism and increases fat burning for energy. Additionally, chillies contain capsaicin which stimulates thermogenesis. Capsaicin activates brown adipose tissue cells which increase heat production. The increased temperature causes an elevation in metabolic rate. I incorporate chilli into my diet by making a sugar-free sweet chilli sauce and kimchi.
- Cinnamon — Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood glucose levels. In addition, cinnamon boosts metabolism and aids weight loss because of its ability to slow down carbohydrate digestion.
- Cumin — Cumin is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help to increase metabolism and reduce cholesterol. You can use ground cumin instead of whole seeds when cooking. It seems that by adding 3g of cumin powder to their yogurt for 2 meals for 3 months did the trick for these women in this 2014 study.
Best Ways To Tone A Flat Belly
1. Sit ups
The most basic exercise for toning up your abs. You should perform sit-ups at least three times per week.
Method: Start by lying flat on your back with knees bent and feet together. Place hands behind head and lift yourself into a sitting position. Slowly bring both legs towards chest until arms touch thighs. Then slowly return to starting position. Repeat 10 times. Do two sets of 20 repetitions each time.
If you feel pain along your back after sit ups, stop doing it. You may need to strengthen your back first before starting on sit ups, please consult a health practitioner about this.
Another simple abdominal strengthening exercise. Crunches have been proven to be one of the most efficient exercises when it comes to toning up the abs. The reason behind this is because they work all major muscle groups including your lower back muscles and obliques.
However, crunches should never replace cardio workouts. Doing both together would give us better results.
Method: Sit up straight, place both hands behind your head, lift yourself up by bending at the elbows until your chest touches your thighs. Then slowly return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Doing crunches regularly helps strengthen your core muscles and improve posture. You should be able to perform 20-30 repetitions without feeling too tired but that is just a guide not a rule. If you feel pain during the crunch, stop doing it and consult your health professional. The key here is consistency. Do one set every day if possible.
There is no one ultimate way you can rely solely upon to burn that excess belly fat as everybody’s body is unique. We really need to make a few simple changes and find out the right combinations that is going to suit our current diet and lifestyle. It should not have to feel restrictive or rigid, otherwise it will just feel like a chore and it’s understandable that you would simply give up before you see any real results.
If going on a customised meal plan is the way to start, then try it. A customised meal plan will even educate you on what to eat to ensure you meet your required daily nutrients for your lifestyle without having to do all that manual work on your own.
If you can find 5 mins in your day to do a HIIT session, then try that too. And if you manage to find some fenugreek or ginger tea product that does not added sugar or carb fillers, then try that as well. This fat burning journey is all about finding what works and just stick to it for about 8 weeks and see the results for yourself.
- Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to her lifestyle. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)