The problem with the lower belly fat is that it’s hard to burn, as even when you’re on a diet, your body prioritizes losing fat from other parts of your body like arms, shoulders, and face. This phenomenon is true both for men and women. However, the reasons behind excess fat deposits in the abdominal area may differ depending on gender.
Before starting your battle with stubborn belly fat, you should know that fat in the abdominal area is divided into subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is more of an aesthetic problem, and visceral fat may even be invisible since it is located on the internal organs. At the same time, visceral fat is the most dangerous for your health. It can slow down metabolism, accelerate aging, and lead to various diseases.
Eat tasty food and lose weight with Unimeal app!
Take a Quiz – Get personal meal plan – Achieve your weight goals!Start Quiz
Females can face a stubborn belly because of the high BMI index (excess body fat overall), hormonal disbalance, and even bloating that can look like a fatty pouch. What is more, as women naturally have a higher body fat percentage, dealing with stubborn fat deposits can be a real challenge for them.
Hormones and heredity play a significant role in the disposition of fat in women. Your genes define what type of figure you have. Are you a “pear” that stores most of the fat in thighs, hips, and lower belly; an “apple” with visible fat deposits in a midsection; or an “hourglass” with a proportional figure with fat distributed among the lower and upper body?
Along with heredity, there are other common reasons behind stubborn fat deposits in particular body parts, namely the abdominal area.
Hormonal belly in women happens less frequently than in men. This is because the main hormonal reason behind the large abdomen is low estrogen or progesterone. As a rule, women face a man-type belly fat during menopause when their hormonal portrait changes dramatically. During menopause, estrogen levels drop, and women are more prone to store belly fat.
The testosterone levels predominately explain belly fat. We’re more likely to store excess fat in the midsection if we have more testosterone. If a woman has more estrogen, she would probably store excess weight in her thighs and hips.
If you’re a thin woman with a large belly, this is most likely due to hormonal imbalance or other health conditions. If you’re in a normal BMI range, but your hips to waist ratio is higher than 0.85, you should see your doctor.
Women can also see that their bellies become bigger after pregnancy. This weight gain in a particular part of your body is due to the stretched muscles of your core and the larger uterus.
Part of the postpartum belly will go away quite fast, and you might lose up to 9 kilos in five to seven weeks after the delivery. When your uterus shrinks back, you can also see that your abdomen becomes flatter. Some women lose weight2Jarlenski M. P., Bennett W. L., Bleich S. N., et al. (2014, October 5). Effects of Breastfeeding on Postpartum Weight Loss among U.S. Women. Preventive Medicine. DOI:10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.09.018 quickly when they’re lactating, burning 400 to 500 calories per day to produce milk.
According to the personal experience of thousands of new moms, the post-pregnancy belly goes away in six to nine months. Moms do have more difficulties with getting into shape, but this is because their lifestyle changes dramatically! They sleep less, have more stress, don’t have time to work out, and have more disruptive eating. All these reasons accumulate and add pounds to their bodies.
Another hormonal reason behind belly fat can be high cortisol. Studies3Moyer A. E., Rodin J., Grilo C. M., et al. (1994, May). Stress-Induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women. Obesity Research. DOI:10.1002/j.1550-8528.1994.tb00055.x show a link between uncontrollable stress and fat distribution in an abdominal area in women.
Some research4Schroder H., Morales-Molina J. A., Bermejo S., et al. (2007, October). Relationship of Abdominal Obesity with Alcohol Consumption at Population Scale. European Journal of Nutrition. DOI:10.1007/s00394-007-0674-7 demonstrates that high alcohol consumption affects differently on fat distribution in men and women. Even though the link between alcohol and the risk of abdominal obesity was significantly higher in men (19,3%) than in women (2,3%), too much booze can affect a female’s body shape as well. As alcohol can shift your hormonal balance, making you store fat in a lower belly, refraining from alcohol can be a working strategy to help you lose belly fat faster.
In most cases, you can easily distinguish stubborn belly fat from a bloated abdomen. When you’re bloated, you can feel it! In most cases, we’re bloated when we eat too much or too quickly or if we’ve consumed too much fiber or gas-provoking products like beans, cabbage, bread, or carbonated beverages. However, bloating can also be the symptom of some health conditions, including lactose or gluten intolerance and inflammatory diseases.
Recent studies5Symonds M. E., Aldiss P., Pope M., et al. (2018, July 24). Recent Advances in Our Understanding of Brown and Beige Adipose Tissue: The Good Fat that Keeps You Healthy. F1000 Research. DOI:10.12688/f1000research.14585.1 show that our fat tissue contains brown adipocytes that help you burn energy when you’re cold and white adipocytes responsible for fatty acids accumulation. Some dietitians assume that the lower belly contains more white adipocytes that are harder to burn. That’s why even when in a calorie deficit, your body chooses to burn fat deposits in your arms, breast, face, and buttocks (where you have more brown fat) first.
Some case studies composed by personal trainers and fitness instructors (these are pure observations that are not science-based) show that it might take up to 16 weeks to start losing belly fat. They state that as there are more white fat cells near your belly, this part of your body is so hard to get into shape.
So what should you do to get a flat stomach? You have to reduce body fat overall. All the myths about losing belly fat in a week by drinking some magic vinegar or eating some particular fat-burning foods are just marketing. What we can do to get into shape is to help our body stop storing fat in the midsection and decrease the fat percentage in our bodies overall.
Personal trainers often recommend crunches, plank, and other ABS exercises to make your stomach flat. Remember that fat cannot contract, and you won’t make your stomach flat with thousands of crunches. You will have a strong core and ABS, hidden behind fat storages, waiting to be revealed by a proper diet.
However, doing a proper workout routine can strengthen your muscles, lift your skin, and make your stomach look less “puffy.”
To lose lower belly fat fast and effectively with the help of exercises alone, you should do cardio to burn more calories and add compound movements to your routine. Compound movements (like bench press, sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups) incorporate the biggest muscle groups in your body. This helps you burn more calories and lose weight all over your body faster.
Using a sweat belt while working out is a waste of money. Sweating more doesn’t equal losing more fat. Burning fat happens6Meerman R., Brown A. J. (2014, December 19). When Somebody Loses Weight, Where Does the Fat Go? BMJ. DOI:10.1136/bmj.g7257 through your breathing out carbon dioxide and not sweating in particular parts of your body.
Doing exercises focused on oblique abdominal muscles, especially with weights, can stimulate the growth of these muscles and make your waist look wider.
Expect that you will have the same waist and belly as your favorite fitness model. Your abdomen shape is very much a question of genetics. To understand what you should expect from your physique, ask your parents for their adolescent photos. Has your dad had a six-pack? Has your mom had an appealing waist to hips ratio?
The bitter truth is you can’t divide your body into parts and lose fat only in certain areas. The only thing that works for losing fat in a particular part of your body is liposuction surgery. It has multiple side effects, and we don’t recommend it. But that’s the only way to lose belly fat without altering the fat-to-muscle ratio in your hips, breast, arms, or face.
What you will need to lose belly fat is consistency, healthy eating, and physical activity. These are some tips that might make your journey to the perfect stomach a bit faster.
Proper dieting is not that easy, and you might need help from professional nutritionists to make up a working meal plan. Without a calorie deficit, you won’t lose fat. That is thermodynamics, and nothing can be done about that.
If we’re talking about exercises to lose belly fat, these are not crunches but exercises that make large muscle groups work. Chose resistance training, weight lifting, high-intensity interval training. They incorporate larger muscle groups, and by working on them, you can burn more calories more efficiently and lose fat quicker.
For each of us, these are different products depending on our gut microbiome, food allergies, and the health condition of our digestive tract. You will have to analyze your bloating episodes and make links to your eating habits.
Most people feel bloated after eating products high in fat or fiber. Funny as it may seem, consuming too many fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts can make your stomach bulge out even after a low-calorie meal. You might be prone to bloating if you have food allergies too. If you don’t see connections between eating particular products and bloating, you should see your doctor.
Avoiding products that make you bloated won’t help you lower the body fat percentage in your abdominal area, but this strategy will make your stomach visibly flatter.
Sleep affects cortisol and ghrelin levels. Cortisol affects your weight, and ghrelin makes you hungry. Skip dinner coffee, avoid distractions in your bed, turn off the lights in your bedroom, and try to relax before going to sleep.
Stress management is a great challenge for modern society, but you will have to master it to make your weight-loss journey faster. Some people benefit from yoga, some people state that meditation has changed their lives, for some of us, getting a pup is enough to become happier. Experiment and look for stress management methods that work for you.
Even though alcohol is a more frequent reason for abdominal fat in men, its effect on your overall weight loss can be disastrous! One gram of ethanol contains seven calories which make spirits very calorie-dense. What is more, alcohol7Suter P. M. (1997, May). Effects of Alcohol on Energy Metabolism and Body Weight Regulation: Is Alcohol a Risk Factor for Obesity? Nutrition Reviews. DOI:10.1111/j.1753-4887.1997.tb06470.x can interfere with your food choices and make you overeat.
Suppose you have a stubborn belly that doesn’t go away no matter what you do, eliminate booze from your diet, at least for some time. Just make sure that it’s not your daily glass of wine that makes your stomach pouchy.
And if you need to hold something in your hand at a party, take a glass of orange or grapefruit juice. The thing is, these beverages are rich in vitamin C, and vitamin C can inhibit8Peters E. M., Anderson R., Nieman D. C., et al. (2001, October). Vitamin C Supplementation Attenuates the Increases in Circulating Cortisol, Adrenaline and Anti-Inflammatory Polypeptides Following Ultramarathon Running. International Journal of Sports Medicine. DOI:10.1055/s-2001-17610 cortisol production. Cortisol stimulates belly fat storage, and in theory, the consumption of vitamin C, helping with lowering stress hormone levels, can boost fat loss in the abdominal area.
Even research9Escudier B., Fanchon C., Labrousse E., et al. (2011, August). The Benefit of a Topical Slimming Cream in Conjunction with Dietary Advice. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00630.x, sponsored by one of the world’s largest cosmetic groups, shows that the slimming effect of the newest body care product equals one pound of body weight loss in four weeks in women with the normal BMI. However, body care slimming products can tone your skin and have a draining effect due to their osmatic action. They won’t make you lose fat, but they can make your skin look much firmer.
If you look at progressive pictures of people’s weight loss, you will notice that belly is not the first thing to go off when they’re dieting. If you have a bit of excess weight, chances are you will lose fat from your arms, face, and breast first, and only after that will your belly start to shrink. Don’t stop halfway and stay consistent with your meal plan and workouts.
If you have a normal body mass index, but your hip-to-waist ratio is higher than it should be, there might be some hormonal imbalance issues standing behind your round belly. This might be a metabolic syndrome, a pre-diabetes symptom, a thyroid gland dysfunction, and whatnot. If your stomach circumference is almost the same as your hips, see your health advisor right away!
We wish people could lose fat in particular parts of their body without surgery, but that’s impossible. The only way how you can lose fat in your belly is by losing fat overall.
Exercise can make your core muscles stronger, body creams can make your skin smoother, proper food choices can make you less bloated, but it’s the calorie deficit and stress management that really works at the end of the day. That is a scientifically proven approach, and all those who tell you to buy their super-pills, sweat belts, or workout programs to get rid of stubborn belly fat are just sellers.
Just think of how much time you’ve spent on pointless “magic methods” and imagine that: If you had started a proper meal plan and moderate physical activity back then, today you would already have a beach body you’re dreaming of! Stop wasting your time on quick fixes and get a proper meal plan to get into shape.
Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.
By choosing high-quality sources, we make sure that all articles on the Unimeal blog are reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about our editorial processes.