Which leads us to point number two: If you want to lose belly fat, you'll need to lose weight. If you stick to the following plan, you won't have to lose as much weight as you might think because your body will burn more fat for energy, but still. Reducing your body fat percentage will require losing some weight. Don't go into this thinking you won't have to lose weight, because that's the surest way to fail.
Sleep is another underrated part of a proper fat-loss program. If you aren't sleeping enough, your insulin sensitivity will decrease, which means that hormone will be less effective at shuttling glucose from your blood into cells, where it belongs. So what does your body do? It pumps out more insulin, still hoping to finish the job. The problem is that insulin is also a fat-storage hormone.
Basically, every single person has a unique calorie maintenance level. This is the amount of calories that your body requires each day to burn for energy to perform all of the tasks it needs to perform. From intense exercise like cardio and weight training, to simple daily tasks like brushing your teeth and getting dressed, to the various physiological functions needed to keep you alive (like digesting and breathing).
What I mean is, any diet that actually causes you to lose fat did so because it caused you to create a caloric deficit. That’s a fact. There is literally NOTHING else that could possibly make it happen. This is the most basic proven science of the human body. Calories in vs calories out (aka the law of thermodynamics) is ALWAYS the basis for fat loss (or gain).
Your body needs a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals to function properly. What happens when you don’t get enough of them? What happens when you eat too little food, or when the food you eat isn’t sufficiently nutritious? Perhaps our bodies catch on and reply by increasing hunger levels. After all – if we eat more, we increase the chances of consuming enough of whatever nutrient we are lacking.
Yup, sounds like a good plan to me. A 2 week diet break at maintenance certainly can’t hurt (especially as you’re going lower in body fat), and then coming back to a small deficit is definitely the right idea. Getting into single digit body fat levels, you’re gonna want to lose slower now (0.5lb per week range), so a small deficit is the way to do it.
A 2012 study also showed that people on a low-carb diet burned 300 more calories a day – while resting! According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study this advantage “would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity”. Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without actually exercising. A later, even larger and more carefully conducted study confirmed the effect, with different groups of people on low-carb diets burning an average of between 200 and almost 500 extra calories per day.1
To start off, aim to do ab work 3 or 4 times a week on non-consecutive days with at least 24 hours of rest in between sessions, says Gagliardi. During those sessions, you can start with simpler moves like crunches, bicycle crunches, and planks. Even though you may only be directly targeting your abs 3 or 4 times a week, you should still be activating your core (aka, tightening your ab muscles) in every workout you do, says Gagliardi.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
That doesn't mean that we don't have certain areas where we're predisposed to put on fat. If I gain a few excess pounds, most seem to appear on my stomach. Other people tend to put on pounds in their thighs or rear. They're gaining weight everywhere, of course, but it seems to appear more readily in a certain area. On the flip side, if I lose five or six pounds, my waistline gets noticeably less soft.
In this study, eating more protein helped overweight men preserve more lean mass when they lost weight. The men were put on a diet that gave them either 15% or 25% of energy from protein. But here’s a huge difference that you won’t see in the abstract: the low-protein group was vegetarian; the high-protein group got meat. (The study authors never explain why on earth they would do it like that).
As with all diets, nothing works for everyone, and nothing works forever. The celebrity endorsements are great when they work, but the celebrities who regain their weight once they discontinue this plan are proving that this is not the answer for everyone. Many people prefer to be able to eat food they prepare and do not like the idea of prepackaged foods.
Reducing your total body fat not only helps you lose weight, but also can have significant improvements on your health. Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea are just a few benefits of losing excess fat. When you're trying to lose weight, it's ideal to lose only excess fat. However, without proper planning, dieting can also lead to the loss of lean muscle mass. While you'll see a reduction in your overall weight, losing muscle mass may lead to weakness, fatigue, poor athletic performance, and decreased metabolism. A well balanced diet can help you lose excess fat mass, minimize muscle loss and improve your overall health.