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  • Writer's pictureBarbara

Lose belly fat in 4 steps!




A tight stomach is the holy grail in workout land. As a Personal Trainer, you will receive the above question at least once a day. Between all the online nonsense on socials and a merchandising machine that is running at full speed, it turns out to be difficult to discover what really helps against belly fat. We are happy to tell you how it actually works and what does work to get rid of those muffin tops.


What exactly is belly fat?


Fat is stored in different places in our body. Most of our fat is 'subcutaneous fat' and some fat can also be found in your muscles.

However, the main culprit in belly fat is visceral fat. This visceral fat is located between your organs and your abdominal cavity.

But beware, the fat itself is not the problem. The amount of it, may well be. Fat storage also offers protection and rapid energy reserves for the organs.


If you create a calorie surplus - so when you eat too much -, the carbohydrates and sugars in particular lead to more belly fat than subcutaneous fat. Eating low-carb can help with this in the way of fat storage, but there is still a calorie surplus that keeps the belly fat.


FACT CHECK


Of course, we all want the fastest route to success. The industry runs extremely well on that, on our drive. Diets, supplements, complicated sports schedules, restrictions, they all promise the fast lane to a flat stomach.

But the truth remains as logical and simple as it has always been.

  • You lose weight with a negative energy balance: you use more energy than you take in

  • You gain weight with a positive energy balance: you take in more energy than you use.


It sounds simple, but it's not necessarily easy. Because how do you know how many calories you have burned in a day and how many you have taken in? Are you (on a weekly basis) in a deficit or in a surplus? And how do you balance the two so well that you do lose your excess belly fat, but your body does not completely get into the stress of a far too large energy shortage?


Blood flow in the abdominal area


In addition to watching your nutritional intake, exercise is very important in reducing belly fat. With little movement there is little blood flow in the abdominal area. The movement improves this blood flow, making it easier for your body to break down belly fat in the event of a calorie deficit.

Cardiovascular exercises with a minimum intensity of 60% of your maximum heart rate are best suited for this. You can measure this heart rate zone subjectively because you could then have a conversation during exercise, for example.


Measuring belly fat


Apart from the aesthetic aspect why many people want to get rid of their belly fat, there is a much more important reason to get started with this. An excess of belly fat can cause many health problems!

Do you want to know how that is going for you? There is a simple way to get a (global) picture of this. Take a tape measure and measure (on an exhale) yourself around, horizontally and just above your navel:


Women

Healthy : 68-80 cm

Overweight : 80-88 cm

Obesity : >88 cm


Men

Healthy : 74-94 cm

Overweight : 94-102 cm

Obesity : >102 cm


If you fall into the obesity category, it is advisable to take action. Is it difficult to do that yourself? Then seek professional guidance! Obesity is a medical condition in which so much body fat has accumulated that it can have a negative effect on health. This can lead to a shorter life expectancy and/or more health problems.


Plan to lose belly fat in 4 steps


Step 1

Be realistic. Is the image you have in mind really feasible, or is that prompted by an overkill of unrealistic role models?

Unrealistic goals are by definition unattainable. Have you just given birth to twins and would you like a tight tummy for your crop top after 3 months? Chances are you won't succeed. A goal based on healthy and realistic goals is much more attainable.


Step 2

Maintain a negative calorie balance. Take a close look at your diet and, if necessary, (temporarily) keep track of your nutritional intake. There are many apps on the market that make this very easy for you. Know how many calories you are actually taking in. You can (probably with the same app or else a calculation example online) then compare that with your calorie consumption per day at rest; your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Then aim for a calorie deficit between 200-500 calories per day.


Step 3

Reduce stress and sleep well. If you experience stress for a longer period of time, your body will produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has the property, among other things, to make you sleep less well, because it keeps you constantly alert. Poor sleep subsequently influences the loss of (belly) fat.


Regular sleep deprivation affects the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which are responsible for hunger and satiety. So you are more hungry and less full. Both are a problem if you're trying to lose weight.


Step 4

Start moving. In particular, light intensive exercise is beneficial for losing belly fat. Exercising in the 'fat burning zone' (such as the above parameters) allows your body to burn relatively more fat. However, an intensive cardio training ensures a higher calorie burn, which naturally benefits your calorie balance. There is also a great advantage to building strength; your strengthening muscles then require a constant, higher level of energy to function, which raises your BMR.

That said, go do something you enjoy. Move regularly and persevere!


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Do you want help with your training and would you also like to choose the best possible workout that is tailored to your body and your goals? Our trainers are specially trained for this and come to you when it suits you. This can be done at home, or on location outside, such as during your lunch break at the office or in a park nearby. Our trainers are certified, speak English and Dutch. And especially for women we have 'Ladies Only'. Sports coaching for women, by women. Also for guidance during pregnancy or after childbirth.

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