Men and women store body fat differently, there are many reasons for this, but men are much more likely to store fat around their abdomen. This article will look at how to burn belly fat, it is aimed at men, but almost all the advice will also be applicable to women looking to burn belly fat.
What is Belly Fat?
When we consume more calories than we burn the excess calories are stored as energy. This stored energy is kept in adipose tissue. There are two types of fat:
- Subcutaneous fat
- Visceral fat
What is Subcutaneous Fat?
Subcutaneous fat is fat that is stored under the skin, its main role is to protect the body and provide insulation. If you pinch your skin, you will be pinching subcutaneous fat as well. Provided you don’t have too much subcutaneous fat, it is actually beneficial and contributes to a healthy body.
What is Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds your organs, particularly your stomach and your liver. This means that visceral fat is found exclusively around your abdomen (belly). While visceral fat is important (it protects the organs), too much abdominal fat can be very dangerous.
While both men and women can accumulate visceral fat, men are at higher risk as the male body absorbs more dietary fat and transports it to the abdomen .
Is Belly Fat Just Visceral Fat?
No, belly fat is a combination of visceral and subcutaneous fat. What you want is healthy levels of both. Too much subcutaneous fat is not healthy, but too much visceral fat can endanger your health.
There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of high blood pressure .
How to Lose Weight
Before we look at how to lose belly fat specifically, it is important to have a look at the science behind weight loss.
Weight loss is not a complicated process, that does not make it easy to achieve, but when you strip it down to its basic components, weight loss is an equation:
- If the total number of calories you burn is higher than the calories you consume you will lose weight. This is called a calorie deficit.
- If the total number of calories you burn is lower than the calories you consume you will gain weight. This is called a calorie surplus.
There are three ways to create a calorie deficit, you can increase the number of calories you burn, reduce the number of calories you consume, or a combination of the two. This third option is by far the best, as you create a larger deficit and will get faster results.
How to Lose Belly Fat
In some ways, there is no difference between losing belly fat and losing leg fat or arm fat. It’s about creating a calorie deficit and staying within that deficit for a prolonged period of time.
You can’t target where you lose fat from, no matter what people tell you. What usually happens is that fat is burned from areas where you are rich in stored body fat.
If you hold the majority of your fat around your abdomen, then abdominal body fat will be one of the first places to see fat loss results.
Luckily, visceral fat appears to be the first to go when you start to lose weight. This means that men will lose belly fat before other areas when losing weight.
It isn’t obvious when visceral fat goes, because it surrounds the organs, but provided you are losing weight on the scales, you can expect to be losing excess belly fat around your organs.
So, anyone looking to lose belly fat can perform the following ten tips on how to burn belly fat and should see a reduction in visceral fat over time, and eventually, they will see an overall reduction in the size of their belly.
Ten Tips on How to Burn Belly Fat
Here are ten tips on how to burn belly fat, they are aimed at men, but women can use most of them (avoid the testosterone-based tips though). Not only will these tips help with weight loss, but they can also improve your health, your mood, and your muscle mass.
Tip #1 Sleep More
The relationship between insomnia and weight gain is well established. Studies have shown that bad sleep can affect the same part of the brain that is affected by marijuana.
The endocannabinoid (ecb) system regulates our appetite and energy levels, insomnia can cause the ecb system to increase appetite while lowering energy levels. Leading to an increase in calories consumed and a reduction in calories burned. A calorie surplus .
Bad sleep can also lower testosterone in men , increase the risk of depression , and it can cause men to seek out high-calorie foods (thanks to the ecb system). This can all lead to weight gain.
Therefore, fixing your insomnia can not only prevent further weight gain but can also lead to weight loss. It does this by regulating your appetite, increasing your energy levels, and boosting your mood – which can help with food choices, and motivation to continue on your journey.
To improve your sleep, there are certain things you should do. Get yourself a bedtime, and stick to it! Avoid caffeine after 4 pm, as it can keep you awake for several hours.
Get the temperature in your room right, invest in comfortable bedding and attire, and consider natural sleep supplements that can help increase drowsiness. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can also help to improve sleep quality.
Tip #2 Increase Protein Intake
Making the switch to a high-protein diet is one of the most effective ways to lose belly fat. A 2017 study found that people who could adhere to a high-protein diet lost significantly more weight than people who followed a standard-protein diet for the same length of time .
People on high-protein diets find it easier to stay within a calorie deficit. The added protein also helps to prevent muscle loss, which is common in long-term diets. Protein is able to increase your metabolic rate, which can lead to more calories burned during the day.
Swapping high-calorie, low-protein foods with lean protein alternatives is also a great way to reduce your total calorie intake and reduce excess weight.
One of the benefits of this is that people trying to hit high protein targets tend to put more thought into meal planning and snack selection, making it easier to stay in a calorie deficit and lose weight.
Tip #3 Reduce Alcohol Intake
The term beer belly is often used to describe abdominal fat gain and excess fat around the stomach. This can be quite confusing because many people manage to gain a beer belly without drinking beer!
But, it is certainly true that excessive alcohol intake can lead to fat accumulation and an increase in belly fat. So, beer belly is sometimes an accurate term.
Alcohol can cause fat gain in two ways; it can lead to a calorie surplus (there are a lot of calories in alcoholic drinks), and alcohol can increase estrogen levels in men, which can lead to increased body fat.
You don’t have to avoid alcohol entirely, but if you are a regular drinker, then cutting down on your weekly intake could lead to significant fat loss over time. There are many people who actually eat sensibly, but due to their alcohol intake, they are overweight. These people tend to reduce belly fat significantly when they give up alcohol.
Tip #4 Try a Meal Replacement Shake
Meal replacement shake diets have been shown to be significantly more effective for weight loss in both the short and long term than traditional diets . Good quality meal replacement shakes are made from healthy, plant-based ingredients.
They are high in protein, high in fiber, and they are simple and easy to prepare. This last part is crucial to their success. Most people find sticking to their diet incredibly difficult. When was the last time you saw someone who was still following their diet a year later?
Only 20% of diets last longer than a year, with the vast majority failing within the first four weeks . Meal replacement shake diets tend to outlast other diets because they actually make your life easier rather than more difficult.
They are perfect for people who don’t have time to prepare healthy nutritious breakfasts or lunches. Or people who may not know what a nutritious meal should look like.
Due to meal replacement shakes having a fixed calorie count (usually around 400 calories) it makes it easy to stay in a calorie deficit once you know your total daily caloric intake requirements.
Tip #5 Walk More
For years, fitness experts have claimed that you should walk 10,000 steps each day to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular fitness. In 2021, scientists put this claim to the test and found that 7,000 steps appeared to be the ideal target .
The point is that hitting an arbitrary target isn’t necessary, you just want to increase your daily step count from what it currently is (unless you are already walking 7,000+ steps).
The average person in the US, Canada, or the UK walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day . Remember, that this is an average, and that overweight men are likely to be at the lower end of this estimate. Most jobs are now sedentary and don’t offer easy access to healthy food , so this should be taken into account, think about ways you can compensate for this if you’re in an office job, such as using the stairs or walking part of the way to work.
Increasing your step count means burning more calories, increasing your metabolism, and spending more time in nature (which can improve mood and sleep quality). Grab yourself a step counting app or smartwatch, and find out your current step average.
You can then increase this by:
- Walking the dog
- Mowing the lawn
- Vacuuming the house
- Gardening/yard work
- Parking your car further away from the office
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Joining a sports club
- Playing golf on weekends
Walking more is great for burning fat because it is very low in intensity, and doesn’t feel like standard exercise. It is much more accessible, particularly for people with mobility issues or long-term injuries.
Tip #6 Use Fat Burners Strategically
Contrary to popular opinion, a fat burner can be highly effective for weight loss provided you use it strategically as part of a wider training and diet program. The mistake that people make is expecting the fat burner to do all the work for them.
Fat burners work by increasing your metabolism while you are already in a calorie deficit. They can also help to reduce your appetite, and increase satiety. Making it easier to avoid overeating or snacking between meals.
Think of your fat burner as that added 2% rather than something that can replace hard work. Use it sensibly, and you may be surprised at how effective it can be.
Tip #7 Increase Testosterone
This tip is aimed specifically at men, as low testosterone is a surprisingly large contributor to belly fat accumulation. The relationship between testosterone and a healthy weight is well established.
Men with low body fat levels, tend to have high testosterone, and vice versa. Increasing your testosterone levels can help you to reduce belly fat because it increases your metabolism, and improves your mental and physical health.
Lifting weights regularly, taking a natural testosterone booster, sleeping longer, and eating a healthy diet can all help to boost testosterone, while simultaneously reducing belly fat.
Tip #8 Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are amazing, not only do they have many health benefits, but they can also help to lower estrogen levels in men. This is because they help to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase.
Aromatase is a pesky little enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, high levels of aromatase can lead to a drop in testosterone and an increase in fat accumulation. Eating cruciferous vegetables is one of the weirder ways to lose belly fat, but it’s also quite clever.
The more cruciferous vegetables you eat, the less aromatase can affect your testosterone levels. Which ultimately means higher testosterone, an increased metabolism, and you are a step closer to a healthy weight.
Cruciferous vegetables include: broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and spinach.
Tip #9 Lift Weights Regularly
Lifting weights is an excellent way for men to reduce fat and build muscle mass. Adding 3-4 training sessions into your week can really help. Any form of physical activity can help you to lower your body weight but many experts claim that a resistance exercise routine is highly effective in this regard.
Tip #10 Increase Your Cardiovascular Exercise
Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming, cycling, or using cardio machines can really help if you have too much belly fat. Vigorous exercise such as sprinting can be helpful too, but most men will benefit from low-intensity physical activity such as long-distance running. Add in 1-2 aerobic exercise sessions to your 3-4 weight training program.
Final Thoughts on Belly Fat Loss for Men
Nothing in this article should have surprised you too much. Reducing your alcohol intake, sleeping more, eating healthier foods, and exercising regularly, are all pretty obvious. The trick is to find a way to follow this advice long-term.
So, instead of trying to achieve all ten tips simultaneously, pick one or two, and master them. Then add a third and fourth tip, and focus on mastering them too. Build your habits slowly and you will see results that last forever.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exercise burns the most fat?
Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardiovascular exercise technically burns the most fat. This is because it lasts longer than most workouts, and keeps your heart rate in the ideal fat-burning zone. Resistance training (weight training) can also be highly effective, as can High-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Can you lose stomach fat in 7 days?
Not noticeably, the recommended safe target for fat loss is around 1lb per week, and few people see results within 6 weeks. This is because you need a certain level of fitness before you can train at a high enough intensity to really burn fat. Clinical weight loss group Center TRT recommends lose weight safely the maximum you should be aiming for is 20lbs in 8 weeks, and that’s only if you have a fair amount to lose.
How fast can a man lose belly fat?
This of course depends on the size of the man, his age, the amount of weight he has to lose, and how hard he is prepared to work. A general rule of thumb is that it takes people 12 weeks to see significant weight loss results.
What is the best way for a man to lose belly fat?
Reduce your calorie intake, walk more often during the day, lift weights three times per week, perform some cardiovascular exercise twice per week, and sleep 8 hours.
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