People who want to lose weight often desire to do so from their abdominal area first. Although carrying around excess abdominal fat can cause you to lose self-confidence, it is more than an aesthetic problem.
Too much belly fat, also called visceral fat, can cause serious health problems. In fact, according to experts, extra belly fat may be just as much, if not more harmful, for your heart as smoking and high blood pressure.
If your primary goal is to lose visceral fat, you may question how long it takes to lose belly fat.
Unfortunately, the answer is not clear-cut. While there is no lifestyle or diet change effective at spot reducing stubborn belly fat, pairing a calorie deficit with regular physical activity will reduce your overall body fat percentage.
Over time, this will also result in a smaller midsection. How long it takes varies from person to person.
This article will discuss how long it takes to lose belly fat and tips to help you achieve a smaller waistline.
- Belly fat, or visceral fat, causes more than low self-esteem. Excess visceral fat increases your risk for a myriad of health problems.
- While no exercise or diet modification is proven to reduce belly fat, adopting a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly will reduce total body fat, ultimately melting inches off your waist.
- Generally speaking, you can expect to notice a slimmer waistline within 12 weeks if you’re eating in a calorie deficit and putting in work at the gym.
UNDERSTANDING SUBCUTANEOUS + VISCERAL FAT
Having some amount of fat on our body is normal and healthy. We have fat stored all over our body.
However, the fat on our bodies is not created equal. There are two main types of adipose tissue (fat tissue) within our body, subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is located just under the skin and makes up around 90% of our body fat.
On the other hand, visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity and wraps around your internal organs.
People who have an “apple shape” tend to have higher amounts of visceral fat, while those with a “pear shape” tend to have more subcutaneous fat.
When people refer to wanting to lose “belly fat,” they are often referring to visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the most dangerous type of fat to have because it can pose significant health risks.
According to scientific studies, excess visceral fat accumulation is associated with:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
The good news is that you can decrease the amount of visceral fat you have by adopting a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
CAN YOU LOSE BELLY FAT?
Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to target belly fat alone. However, reducing your body fat percentage will ultimately shrink your waistline and improve your health.
The theory that certain exercises can target fat loss in certain areas of the body came about many years ago. However, today it is considered to be an outdated myth because there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
When you lose weight, fat is released from fat cells all over to supply your body with energy, not just in one particular area.
For example, one study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics compared the effect of diet and an abdominal resistance training program on waist circumference in overweight and obese women.
Researchers found that both groups lost weight without significant differences in abdominal subcutaneous fat, waist circumference, or body fat percentage.
The study concluded that ab exercises were no more effective at spot reducing belly fat than diet alone.
The best way to reduce belly fat is through losing overall body fat by eating healthy and exercising. Where fat first comes off of your body varies from person to person.
However, you can make a good guess as to where you may lose fat from first by where you gain it first.
For example, if you tend to gain weight in your belly first, it will likely be the first place you lose it. If you tend to gain weight in your hips or thighs first, you may notice weight loss in that area first.
TIPS FOR LOSING BELLY FAT
To lose belly fat, you’ll want to focus on the following three things:
- Caloric Deficit
- Weight Training
- Diet and Protein
INCORPORATE A CALORIC DEFICIT
To lose fat, including belly fat, you’ll need to be eating in a calorie deficit. When we eat more calories than our body burns in a day, the calories our body doesn’t use end up stored as fat.
In contrast, when we eat less than our body needs, our bodies turn to fat stores for energy.
Generally speaking, if you are in a 3,500 calorie deficit at the end of the week, you’ll lose approximately one pound.
This is equivalent to a healthy deficit of around 500 calories per day.
Theoretically, once you begin eating in a calorie deficit, you can start losing belly fat within a week.
WEIGHT-TRAINING LEADS TO HIGHER FAT LOSS THAN CARDIO ALONE
One of the first things people want to do when trying to lose weight is ramp up their cardio exercise.
However, focusing solely on cardio can actually hinder your weight loss efforts. While aerobic exercise is beneficial for your heart health and can certainly burn a lot of calories, weight training has the potential to burn even more calories while improving your body composition.
According to one study, a person’s metabolism is elevated for as much as 38 hours following resistance training. This means you’ll burn extra calories long after your workout is complete.
As you continue lifting weights, you will build lean muscle mass.
The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest and the more fat you will lose.
Weight training will also give you a toned body composition and preserve lean muscle as you lose body fat.
The best way to lose weight and, in return, burn belly fat is by pairing weight training with cardio.
To do this, start by lifting weights three times a week and performing high-intensity interval training twice per week.
WHOLE FOODS AND INCREASED PROTEIN CAN LEAD TO FAT LOSS
As you’ve heard, it’s virtually impossible to out-exercise a bad diet. Unfortunately, even if you’re hustling in the gym and sticking with your training plan, you aren’t going to lose belly fat without eating in a calorie deficit.
Whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, and eggs, are among the best foods for losing weight because they help you stay full.
Prioritization of lean protein is also a must when trying to lose belly fat.
Swapping refined carbs for protein in your diet can boost hormones that help you feel fuller and reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This can help you lose weight, even if you aren’t counting calories
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LOSE BELLY FAT?
Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer. Because genetics, gender, and age play a large role, the amount of time it takes a person to lose belly fat varies.
With that said, if you are in a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day for three months, you can expect to lose around twelve pounds within twelve weeks, or roughly three months.
It’s likely that during this period, you’ll also notice a reduction in your waistline.
To track your progress, it’s essential to take weekly waist measurements.
To measure your waistline:
- While standing up, wrap a tape measure around the widest part of your stomach. It will usually sit level with your belly button
- Avoid sucking in your stomach or holding the tape tight to the point where it digs into your skin.
- Once it is positioned correctly, take the measurement.
SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP WITH FAT LOSS
- Gut Health - Probiotics
Although there are no magic pills to shrink your waistline, some supplements can help.
As mentioned earlier, prioritizing protein while following a weight loss diet can help you lose more belly fat.
One small study found that overweight people who consumed high protein, low sugar protein shakes combined with diet and exercise modifications experienced increased weight loss.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) may also help you lose more weight. For example, one study found that competitive wrestlers who followed a high protein, reduced-calorie diet lost 3.5 more pounds than those given a soy-based supplement over 19 days.
Those who supplemented with BCAAs also experienced a significant reduction in visceral fat.
If you are one of the 90% of Americans who fall short of meeting the daily recommended intake of 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, you may also benefit from taking a daily greens powder.
Our VEGGIES comprehensive greens powder is chock-full of organic greens, fiber, algae, superfoods, and adaptogen blends that can help support your fat loss efforts. Not only do these ingredients support healthy digestion, but they also strengthen your immune system and enhance mental clarity to keep you dialed in during your workouts.
While we may not be able to spot reduce belly fat, reducing the total amount of body fat you have will ultimately result in a slimmer waistline.
The amount of time it takes to lose belly fat varies from person to person. However, training harder and reducing your calorie intake to achieve a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories will lead to a weight loss of around 12 pounds within 12 weeks. This will likely also result in belly fat loss.
Be sure to measure your waist circumference each week to track your progress. Remember that while cardio is beneficial for your heart health and can burn calories, strength training results in more definition and lean muscle mass, which increases the number of calories your body burns at rest. High-quality dietary supplements can also facilitate fat loss.
Always remember to trust the process and don’t be too hard on yourself. Slow and steady wins the race.