There is a terrible amount of nonsense on the internet about burning or losing belly fat. Many of the tips are outdated, not scientific or rewritten from another site by an author without much knowledge of the subject.
That is why in this article 12 I will give you tips that really REALLY work and are scientifically substantiated. This is the best article you will find (maybe ever) about losing or getting rid of belly fat!
In this article you discover:
- Why breakfast blocks your fat burning
- A way of exercising that burns 7x more fat than cardio training
- Why healthy fats stimulate fat burning
- The 5 most important causes of belly fat
- The differences between burning fat for a man and a woman
- How to effectively burn belly fat 3x 20 minutes per week with little time
To get straight to the point, I immediately tell you something important …
- 1 Local fat loss is not possible
- 2 Burning belly fat: differences between men and women
- 3 Lose weight belly mistake # 1: want to lose fat with cardio training
- 4 Lose weight belly mistake # 2: make fat eat the enemy
- 5 Lose weight belly error # 3: want to lose belly fat with abdominal exercises
- 6 Lose weight belly mistake # 4: want to remove belly fat with pills
- 7 Lose weight belly mistake # 5: go on a diet
- 8 Tip # 1: skip breakfast occasionally (important!)
- 9 Tip # 2: breakfast with proteins
- 10 Tip # 3: eat more healthy fats
- 11 Tip # 4: do short high intensity training
- 12 Tip # 5: avoid prolonged stress
- 13 Tip # 6: head for the cold
- 14 Tip # 7: drink a spinach smoothie
- 15 Tip # 8: do an all-allowed meal
- 16 Tip # 9: do not eat carbohydrates in the evening
- 17 Tip # 10: drink more water and green tea
- 18 Tip # 11: avoid fruit juices
- 19 Tip # 12: avoid breakfast cereals
Local fat loss is not possible
It is not possible to lose fat locally, or lose weight around the abdomen, legs or buttocks. Have you ever seen someone on the beach who is overweight but has a super flat stomach?
Indeed, such people do not exist, and will never exist. Even with the best weight loss pills in the world this will not work.
Below you can see the most logical transformation per gender:
A survey, here on happyhealthy.nl, shows that the vast majority of my visitors already know that losing fat locally is not possible. You can therefore not only reduce fat specifically on your abdomen, legs, buttocks or other body part.
Burning belly fat: differences between men and women
There are a number of differences between men and women when it comes to belly fat.
What is too much belly fat?
To determine if you have too much belly fat and you actually need to reduce that, measure the abdominal circumference. The following applies:
- Men: too much belly fat if the belly circumference is 94 centimeters or more
- Women: too much belly fat if the belly circumference is 80 centimeters or more
At which location do you store belly fat?
When a man stores fat, he does this mainly on the abdomen, while for women it is on the abdomen, hips and thighs.
For whom is losing belly fat harder?
Losing belly fat is more difficult for women because the female body stores more fat for fertility purposes.
This has evolved evolutionally to have enough energy for the fetus during the pregnancy period.
Losing belly: how do you get a flat and tight belly?
For men and women, getting a flat and tight stomach works the same way, but it is more difficult for women to make the muscles visible.
Fortunately that is not such a problem, because almost all women do not necessarily want to look muscular. They want a flat stomach without too much fat.
From what percentage of fat do you have a flat stomach?
Here is the rough rule:
- Men: a fat percentage of around 13 to 16%
- Women: a fat percentage of approximately 19 to 22%
From what percentage of fat will your abs become visible?
Here is the rough rule:
- Men: a fat percentage of around 12% or less
- Women: a fat percentage of approximately 18% or less
Here’s a picture to get an idea of fat percentages for men and women:
Lose weight belly mistake # 1: want to lose fat with cardio training
This may come as a shock to you, but if you want to get rid of (belly) fat or lose it, cardio (for example, losing weight with running ) is not the best way!
It is true that you burn calories from cardio training, but you also pay a price for it. Here are the disadvantages, especially with long-term cardio:
- A great production of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. This hormone is released in response to stress and tries to minimize the damage that stress causes. This hormone does lead to fat storage ( source ), especially around the abdominal area ( source , source ).
- A decrease in testosterone, while this hormone actually stimulates fat burning. And yes, this hormone is also important for women!
- The effect on insulin sensitivity is quite low, so the fat storage does not necessarily decrease ( source ).
Later in this article I will explain what kind of training you can do better.
Lose weight belly mistake # 2: make fat eat the enemy
You do not necessarily get fat by eating fat. Indeed, there are also many good fats such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, fatty fish, etc.
These fats contain calories, but give a longer saturated feeling. In addition, they activate insulin to a low degree, which only stores fat when the values are too high.
With some fats such as coconut oil, you actually stimulate fat burning and you can therefore lose and get more belly fat. Later in this article I will elaborate on healthy fats.
Lose weight belly error # 3: want to lose belly fat with abdominal exercises
Some people think that you can only get a tight stomach with abdominal exercises , but that is far from the truth. Your diet is much more important to reduce and lose belly fat.
This reminds me of a well-known English pronunciation:
Abs are made in the kitchen!
With abdominal exercises you can ensure that the abdomen will hang less, so that it becomes tighter. This can be a solution especially after pregnancy.
If you strengthen your abdominal muscles, these can also be more ‘defined’. That means that the shape of the abdominal muscle blocks becomes more visible.
But in addition, abdominal exercises in particular provide stronger abdominal muscles, less chance of low back pain, preventing injuries and improving balance and stability in daily activities such as standing, walking, sitting, etc.
Lose weight belly mistake # 4: want to remove belly fat with pills
There are few pills with a beneficial effect on weight loss, but there are still people who believe in fairy tales about losing weight around the abdomen.
What does help with weight loss is glucomannan (from the Konjak plant). This is because the fibers of glucomannan absorb a lot of water and thus contribute to a decreased appetite and an increased feeling of satiety.
There is another pill that can help you get rid of belly fat and get a tight stomach, namely the omega 3 pill, but more about that later.
Lose weight belly mistake # 5: go on a diet
It is becoming a bit tiring to point this out to people, but diets don’t work, not even to get a tight stomach!
Approximately 2 in 3 people even arrive from a diet, and the other 1/3 barely loses pounds.
So don’t start!
The cause of too much belly fat and overweight is an unhealthy lifestyle. Nothing more and nothing less! This consists of 5 causes:
- Consume more calories than burn (note: I will discuss exceptions later)
- Overeating single / refined / processed carbohydrates ( source , source )
- Eating processed food
- No to very little movement
- Long-term / chronic stress
If you have a flat stomach, that does not necessarily mean that you are healthy! Organ fat, also called visceral fat, is actually worse than the belly fat that you see on the outside.
Organ fat is associated with type 2 diabetes , high blood pressure , high cholesterol , cardiovascular disease, cancer and many more diseases.
Tip # 1: skip breakfast occasionally (important!)
But Oscar, that slows down your metabolism / metabolism and that is unhealthy?
No! Far from it.
The idea that your metabolism slows down when you skip a meal has never been scientifically proven. It has always remained a theory and has never been confirmed. It is therefore rather bizarre how deeply rooted this belief is in people. I call this the ‘metabolism myth’.
A study has shown that if you eat one 2000 kcal meal on a day or eat the same meal in 5 or 6 servings throughout the day, you burn exactly the same number of calories that day (if all other factors are the same). ( source , source )
Your metabolism will only start to slow down if you do not eat anything for more than 3 to 4 days (72-96 hours) ( source ). At that time you will enter ‘starvation mode’ (in English called ‘starvation mode’). If you then eat something, the calories are stored faster.
Fasting for shorter periods speeds up your metabolism ( source , source ). A study with 11 men, for example, shows that your metabolism speeds up by 14% if you are fixed for 3 days ( source ). Now that 3 days is debatable, because other studies show that with 3 days of fasting your metabolism remains unchanged ( source , source ).
It is also a myth that skipping a meal (such as breakfast) is unhealthy. Here are some scientifically proven health benefits of skipping breakfast at a glance:
- Your insulin sensitivity increases, making it easier to burn fat
- The amount of growth hormone HGH increases which speeds up fat burning
- It initiates cell repair
- Your blood pressure goes down
- You extend your life expectancy (up to 30% in rats)
- And much more…
So you can throw the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day in the trash!
The only disadvantage of this is that you can get into bad food such as candy and fast food, so you have to hold on and then have an extensive lunch! With tips 2, 3, 7 and 8 below you can lower your urge to eat. Incidentally, research shows that sticking to meals is quite simple ( source ).
But why does skipping breakfast work so well for fat burning?
This is fairly easy to explain. Your body uses two energy sources, namely:
- Glucose (you get from carbohydrates )
Your body can now be in one of the 2 positions:
- Level 1 : sugar burning
- Level 2 : fat burning (also called ketose or fat adapted )
In position 1, the body uses glucose as an energy source. When the glucose runs out, the body starts using a glucose supply. This is glycogen, which is primarily stored in the liver and muscles.
In position 2 the body starts to use fat reserves for energy supply.
To get to position 2, you must NOT eat for 6 to 8 hours! So when you wake up in the morning, after hopefully about 8 hours of sleep, your body is in fat burning mode.
And what do most people do? Right … have breakfast!
You now probably understand that the body then immediately switches to position 1, namely sugar burning. Unfortunately peanut butter, you no longer burn fat.
It is therefore best to skip breakfast once in a while – 1 to 3 times a week – so that your fat burning continues to work. If you do have breakfast, I recommend tip 2.
But Oscar, then I have no energy and I get dizzy!
No energy? Nonsense, because you use fats as an energy source and you can get more than 2 times more energy than sugars because 1 gram of carbohydrates equals 4 kcal while 1 gram of fats equals 9 kcal.
But it is true that you can get dizzy . That ‘s because your body has always been used to sugar burning and now has to switch. You force your body to start burning fat and the body must adapt for that. We also call this ketose , the state in which you go into fat burning.
That is why in the first 1 or 2 weeks that you do this, you will sometimes feel energy-free or dizzy, but not afterwards. For the ultimate fat burning sport before you go for lunch. I advise you to do that around noon.
It is therefore advisable to do the following 1 to 3 times a week:
- Skip your breakfast
- Exercise / exercise around 11 am (can also do some simple exercises at home)
- Extensive lunch around 12 o’clock after the sport
To also burn fat when you sleep, I advise you not to eat after 8 o’clock in the evening! So you eat between noon and 8 p.m.
You therefore reduce the period in which you can eat to 8 hours, which is the most regular form of intermittent fasting . You may find this difficult to combine with your work and lunch times . So you have to see for yourself how you can do this in a practical way for you .
Summary tip # 1 : skip breakfast 1 to 3 times a week and eat only around noon.
Tip # 2: breakfast with proteins
To always skip breakfast is also a bit exaggerated. It is sometimes advisable to surprise your body so that you challenge it, because everything you challenge becomes stronger.
There are three reasons for avoiding carbohydrates in the morning:
- It ensures that the body remains more in the fat burning position
- Carbohydrates have a high by-eating factor
- Carbohydrates ensure a high production of insulin
In addition, I am talking about processed carbohydrates such as bread. That does not mean that you can or may never eat bread again! See also tip 8.
The reason to eat protein in the morning is that research has shown you to feel full. Because of this:
- People think about eating 60% less often ( source )
- Do people have 50% less appetite for evening snacks ( source )
- People eat more than 400 calories a day less! ( source )
So this is an excellent way to get more belly fat away.
Summary tip # 2 : start the day with proteins such as a fried or boiled egg, meat, tuna or poultry!
Tip # 3: eat more healthy fats
This may sound contradictory to some people, but you lose more body fat if you eat enough healthy fats and reduce with carbohydrates , instead of eating as little fat as possible.
In addition, you should certainly not completely ignore carbohydrates. Your brain always needs a little glucose and your muscles recover with the help of glucose. The best source of carbohydrates are vegetables, fruit and oatmeal instead of bread, pasta, potatoes or rice.
It is important to eat the right fats. These are in particular the fats that contain omega 3 fatty acids. These have the following advantages:
- They lower your cortisol level, or stress ( source )
- They stimulate fat burning, so your fat percentage drops ( source )
- They suppress the feeling of hunger ( source )
Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish such as:
You should eat fatty fish 2 to 3 times a week to get enough omega 3 fatty acids. If you do not achieve that, or eat little or no fish anyway, I recommend taking an omega 3 supplement in addition to eating the healthy fats.
The best supplement for this is Neptune Krill oil capsules. If you still want to use those slimming pills , then they will be the most effective! Scientists have established that these capsules greatly increase fat burning.
How much should you take? Science shows that 1000 mg per day is optimal. That 1000 mg must then be EPA and DHA. The percentage of EPA and DHA per capsule (often of 500 mg) is stated on the package.
Krill oil thus contains the fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have a positive impact have the motivation centers in the brains ( source ), so even if you like sports, this is a good outcome. If you are a vegetarian, you can go for algae oil. If you want a cheaper but also high-quality capsule, you can go for fish oil.
In addition, make sure that you no longer use margarine, low-fat margarine and sunflower oil for baking and roasting. Instead, use real butter such as butter, grass butter or coconut oil .
Coconut oil in particular has many benefits, including promoting your metabolism and burning fat. It is a myth that saturated fat such as coconut oil is bad for you. Behind that kind of advice there are often interests of the food industry that want to keep their profits on margarine.
Summary tip # 3 : eat more omega 3 fatty acids in the form of fatty fish in order to burn belly fat faster.
Tip # 4: do short high intensity training
I have already said that cardio training has little impact on losing and losing abdominal fat.
One way of exercising that results in up to 7x more fat burning is short, high intensity training. This is a way of exercising in which you exercise briefly at high intensity, after which you relax again.
This effect was found in a study ( source ) in which one group did short high intensity training over a period of 12 weeks and the other group did cardio. Moreover, the short high-intensity group training 1 kilo of muscle mass had arrived, while the cardio group had lost 0.5 kilo of muscle mass!
Another study ( source ) shows that women who did short high intensity training three times a week instead of cardio, after 15 weeks:
- Had received an average lower fat percentage than the cardio group
- Significantly more belly fat and fat around the legs were lost than the cardio group
Even if you burn exactly as many calories with short high intensity training as with cardio, you still train a lot more belly fat away.
This is because with this training you use all kinds of muscle fibers, namely the slow, fast and super fast muscle fibers. With cardio, such as running, you only use the slow muscle fibers.
You also produce more testosterone and the growth hormone HGH, which both increase fat burning. Strength training is therefore also more effective at losing belly fat than cardio.
If you do short high-intensity training 3 times 20 minutes, you will achieve MUCH more than just as long or even longer cardio training.
For example, you can follow the following schedule for high intensity training:
- 3 minutes warming up
- 8 sets of 20 second effort with 60 second break
- 2 minutes cool down
For example, you could do 8 sets of a 20-second sprint and then rest for 60 seconds each time by walking.
Is sprinting not for you or are you a bit older? Then change the schedule to 8 sets of 20 seconds of fast walking and then a 60 second pause each time. That too is much more effective than continuous walking at the same pace.
If you want to have a nice tight belly, abdominal muscle training is of course also very useful.
Summary tip # 4: Do high, short intensity training to burn fat much faster than cardio or running.
Tip # 5: avoid prolonged stress
With an increase in your cortisol level you will get a higher blood sugar level ( source ) and a slower metabolism. This also blocks your fat burning.
It must be clearly stated that acute stress can do no harm, that is even good. A short cold shower is fine, for example, despite the fact that the body experiences this as a stressful situation. Long periods of stress, also known as chronic stress, are not good.
So do the following regularly:
- Watch TV or a quiet or comic movie
- Have sex
- Meditation exercises can lower your cortisol level by 20% ( source )
- Do yoga or breathing exercises
- Take extensive and relaxing breaks during work
- Place plants at home or at work, they can reduce stress by around 15% ( source , source )
- And of course: a wonderful night’s sleep!
Summary tip # 5: avoid prolonged stress by sleeping better and relaxing more.
Tip # 6: head for the cold
There are many benefits of looking up the cold. Unfortunately, this tip is not that popular, something that I have experienced before 🙂
But the idea is two-fold.
- Briefly expose yourself to intense cold
- Sit longer in the cold such as swimming in cold water
You can achieve point 1 by taking a short cold shower, for example. By that I mean that at the end of your shower you stand under the cold shower for half to one minute. The hot tap is therefore completely out!
This stimulates the production of testosterone, which stimulates fat burning. You also put your body in a mode in which it burns up the stove considerably, which means that you will burn calories, and therefore you will also get belly fat.
But to really burn a lot of extra calories you will have to swim in cold water. With 3 hours of swimming in cold water, for example, you already burn 250 calories extra in calories and that is purely because the body must keep itself warm ( source ).
Tip # 7: drink a spinach smoothie
The leafy spinach contains a lot of thylakoid, which reduces hedonic hunger by 94% ( source). Hedonistic hunger is the urge for fatty and sweet food. This makes it easier to lose weight.
Spinach also activates the saturation hormone leptin, giving you more control over your appetite.
That is why it is advisable to have a spinach smoothie early in the day, unless of course you skip your breakfast.
If you are busy with the spinach smoothie, then add a glass of water for more satiety and some good fats such as avocado .
Summary tip # 7: drink a spinach smoothie to get more control over your appetite.
Tip # 8: do an all-allowed meal
We humans all have little willpower. That is why it is difficult for many to maintain a healthy diet.
If you belong to that group, I recommend an all-allowed meal. Even for people who do maintain a healthy diet, I recommend it!
An all-allowed meal is a day on which you can basically eat anything you want. This is also something that some bodybuilders and bikini models use, with which they maintain their strict diet.
There are, however, two guidelines:
- You eat no more than twice what you normally eat
- You choose a fixed day in the week such as Sunday
Since you’ve eaten quite a bit, I recommend you skip your breakfast the next day!
There are a large number of benefits of an all-allowed meal, namely:
- Your metabolism speeds up by 6.6% for lean people and 2.7% for people with obesity ( source )
- A higher production of the hormone leptin ( source ), which gives the brain the signal to burn more belly fat
- The amount of the hormone ghrelin, which causes a feeling of hunger, falls for about 3 days ( source )
- You can go completely free!
In short: an all-allowed meal makes it easier for you to maintain your healthy diet and you can continue to lose pounds, just like that stubborn belly fat! This makes ‘abdominal weight loss’ a lot easier.
Summary tip # 8: have an all-allowed meal on a fixed day of the week where you can eat everything you want!
Tip # 9: do not eat carbohydrates in the evening
As said, I am not in favor of simple carbohydrates such as cakes, sweets, pastries, soft drinks, bread, pasta and rice.
These simple carbohydrates are also referred to as processed or refined carbohydrates because they do not come directly from nature, unlike vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
The disadvantage of these foods is that they are quickly converted into sugar in the body. This causes the blood sugar to peak and you will store more belly fat, while you want to lose it.
I regularly hear people say:
But fruit also contains a lot of sugars!
They actually contain a lot of fruit sugars, but fruit as a whole also contains fiber. These fibers cause a slower rise in blood sugar levels.
With simple carbohydrates, there is no fiber, so there is nothing to stop blood sugar rising, just the insulin in your body!
Research shows that you even lose weight from eating fruit and vegetables. An increase of 100 grams of fruit and vegetables per day resulted in a body weight loss of 500 and 300 grams respectively after 6 months, regardless of what you eat differently (and whether you exercise or not) ( source ).
Especially in the evening I advise you not to use refined carbohydrates, but also healthy fats are high-calorie thickeners.
I give you 2 reasons for this:
- The chance is small that your body will still burn these calories in the evening. And what is not burned is stored. So get a scraper away from belly fat!
- If you have already eaten three meals (plus some snacks) in one day, you run the risk that you will go beyond your daily calorie requirements.
Eating before bed can therefore ensure that you take more calories than you actually need. This ultimately causes weight gain ( source ), and not so much because you still eat something in this part of the day.
Anyway, I recommend that you eat no later than 8 p.m. Do you still want to eat something? Then stick to foods that contain as few calories as possible, such as a vegetable soup.
Summary tip # 9: reduce the chance of fat storage by not eating sugars or carbohydrates in the evening. This prevents you from eating more (empty) calories than your body needs in a day.
Tip # 10: drink more water and green tea
Most people do not drink enough water. There are two major benefits of drinking more water when losing weight:
- It gives you a feeling of satiety, which means that you are less likely to eat excessively
- It slightly speeds up your metabolism, so you burn more fat
I advise you to start the day immediately with a few glasses of water to get your moisture level up.
Then you go over the green tea. Why? Green tea has a number of advantages when it comes to losing weight:
- A boost in your metabolism, or faster fat burning ( source )
- Theanine in the tea provides more relaxation and that lowers the eating needs
It appears that you have to drink a good number of cups per day to make optimal use of these benefits.
I advise you to buy pure green tea, such as in the Ekoplaza.
Then throw a generous amount of green tea into a tea egg and drink several cups of it a day.
Summary tip # 10: give yourself a feeling of satiety and speed up your metabolism by drinking lots of green tea.
Tip # 11: avoid fruit juices
I think you understand that soda is not a product to burn or lose belly fat. That is very high in sugar and makes your blood sugar and insulin levels rise considerably.
But fruit juices are also not recommended. Yet there are still people who think that they are doing well with fruit juices, in particular because of the beautiful marketing spells on the packaging.
Yet regular fruit juices are found in the supermarket, full of sugar or one of the dozens of sugar aliases . The aliases usually end with ‘ose’ or contain the term ‘syrup’ or ‘syrup’.
Fruit juices are distinguished from home-made juices, such as smoothies, because they are stripped of fibers. Due to the lack of fiber, your blood sugar level will rise faster, and you want to avoid that as much as possible.
The best alternative is to make a green smoothie yourself with fresh fruit and leafy vegetables, such as the aforementioned spinach smoothie at tip 7.
Summary tip # 11: do not drink fruit juices because these fibers are lacking and are very sugary!
Tip # 12: avoid breakfast cereals
There is sugar in the regular but also organic breakfast cereals. Think of muesli, cruesli and cornflakes.
The best cereal that I recommend eating is oatmeal . A number of benefits of oatmeal:
- It contains many proteins
- Your blood sugar level remains low
- You have been saturated for a long time
- High quality oatmeal contains no gluten
Please note that there are also manufacturers that add sugar or one of the dozens of pseudonyms of sugar to oatmeal. So view the ingredient list! As mentioned, the aliases usually end with ‘ose’ or contain the term ‘syrup’ or ‘syrup’.
Summary tip # 12: do not eat standard cereals that are full of sugar!
Finally, you will find below a summary of which foods I think you should and should not eat in order to lose weight healthily and burn belly fat. It may be clear that you cannot eat the products in the table indefinitely, because then you will get too many calories and the chance of losing weight is low.
In summary, I recommend that you eat this food in particular:
- Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines
- Nuts such as walnuts – max hand per day
- Dark chocolate
- Seeds / seeds such as linseed
- Coconut oil or ghee
- Grass or butter
- Extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed)
- Vegetables – as much as you want!
- Fruit – as much as you want!
- Quinoa / amaranth
- Sweet potato
- Brown rice / basmati rice
- Fatty fish
In summary, I recommend that you avoid this food in particular:
- Fast food
- Fizzy drink
- Fruit juices
- Regular muesli, cruesli or cornflakes
- Potato chips