The first step to winning your battle against the bulge is knowing your enemy. Enter our foolproof action plan to lose belly fat and reveal your abs for the everyday guy. It’ll save your waistline — and maybe even your life.
You see, belly fat is different from other kinds of fat. It doesn’t just sit there; it’s active. Lying in striking distance of your vital organs, it secretes a host of dangerous toxins which increase your risk of diabetes & heart disease. And it gets worse – a bulging belly also spells bad news in the bedroom.
It’s time to take back your belly! Being a guy, demolishing that stubborn roll around your middle can be tough. But, by sticking to our action plan, that spare tire won’t stand a chance.
It all starts here with the flat-belly equation – a trifecta of essential ingredients, which on their own aren’t all that surprising, but when combined create a metabolic firestorm that will flatten your belly, improve your health & build lean-muscle in record time. To kick things off, we’ve tackled the two biggest pitfalls for flat belly success. Take heed and never let them stand in your way again!
Fact or fiction?
If you listened to all the flawed advice out there to lose stomach fat for men and uncover your abs you’d be popping every diet pill & doing upside-down crunches until you passed out. Here’s the absolute truth.
Myth: Crunches burn belly fat
There is no single best exercise to burn off your belly, least of all the crunch or sit-up. Not only do they sabotage your belly-busting efforts, they violate the body’s unwritten rules for effective and permanent fat loss. So until you’ve demolished your gut, consider your workouts a crunch-free zone.
When you exercise, your body burns blubber uniformly, not from the targeted trouble spot over your stomach. So instead of peeling out dozens of crunches, your priority should be on decreasing your total body fat percentage – we show you how below.
Myth: Starving yourself burns belly fat
Starving yourself may cause quick weight loss at first – but fasting actually decreases the activity of the enzymes that release fat from the cells. It’s also unsustainable in the long run. In short, the less you eat, the more stubborn that spare-tire becomes. But this doesn’t give you ticket to splurge on junk. A food quality restriction is in effect.
Think of your body the way you gas up your car. Fill it with the wrong fuel or let your tank run too low and your body will have no choice but to throttle back your fat-burning motor (known as your metabolism). Keep your tank topped with a steady influx of healthy meals. You’ll stoke your metabolism and build a body that burns fat on autopilot.
No gut, all glory!
Your life is ruled by the clock. So you need to find a way of eradicating your belly in the time at your disposal. Welcome to the world of interval training, a turbocharged training style that ditches long, boring steady-state cardio, in favor of short, sharp high-intensity bursts of activity.
Not only will you shave minutes of your workout, you’ll unleash a killer blow to your belly with a bout of extended post oxygen consumption (EPOC) where your metabolism continues to run in high-gear long after your workout’s over.
The result? You’ll burn more fat faster, even while you chill-out! You can tap into these benefits any way you want – running, swimming, cycling – whatever your style (i.e perform 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 cycles). While the entire workout lasts only 4 minutes, by the end, you should feel like you can’t complete another round.
Stand, don’t sit: There’s more to burning off your belly than wearing out your running shoes. Sitting for long periods – think computer/desk work and watching TV – switches off lipase, a potent fat burning enzyme that prevents fat storage. So if you aren’t active, it doesn’t function. Take regular standing breaks and increase your daily activity levels. Take the stairs, swap your car for pedal power to-and-from work & stretch regularly.
Get abs on autopilot!
Losing belly fat isn’t easy, but building muscle while you burn the calories will increase the rate at which your body breaks down (metabolizes) fat over the short-term as well as the long-term. What’s more, pumping iron will help you alter your overall body composition, giving the impression you’ve exchanged flab for lean muscle.
Abs don’t start showing when you build them; they show when you’ve built all the muscles in your body and cut the fat around your midsection. Here’s they key, your muscles don’t just sit there, they’re metabolically active and cost energy in the form of calories to build and maintain. So, to strip away belly fat and rev your metabolism, your goal in the gym should be to engage as much of this fat-fighting tissue as possible.
Exercises which ‘isolate’ small, single muscle groups like the bicep curl, triceps extension, leg extension/curl and variations of the crunch don’t make the cut here. Instead, build your routine around large multi-muscle moves like squats, dips, rows, pull-ups, push-ups, shoulder/bench presses and dead-lifts. You’ll finish faster, burn more calories both during and after your workout and release a flood of muscle-building hormones.
Mighty mitochondria: Your body comes equipped with its own fat-burning generators. They’re called mitochondria and function as microscopic power-plants that turn nutrients, including fat, into fuel for your muscles. And your workouts can crank them up. The more intensely you exercise, the more mitochondria you bring online. Do this by stringing your multi-muscle moves together to perform a single set of each exercise back-to-back. Repeat x 3-4.
Try it: 4-Minute no-equipment workout!
5 Nutrition rules to live by!
Sure, fasting might make sense for an obese, sedentary guy, but a bloke who’s taming the treadmill and hitting the weights each week needs to be provisioning his body with the right nutrients to support his lard-losing efforts. Here’s how:
#1. Rise & shine!
All of this starts at the breakfast table. Research has shown those that skip breakfast are significantly more likely to sport a bulging belly, so tuck in! A couple of rashers of lean bacon, a low-fat chicken sausage or a poached/boiled egg on wholegrain toast is the best way to start the day. You get equal amounts of protein, healthy fats and energy-sustaining carbohydrates all in one hit.
Despite they’re bad rap, cereals can also be beneficial. Research has shown that downing a high-fiber/whole-grain cereal before exercise burns twice as much fat. On the flip side, low-fiber refined carbs (think waffles, pancakes and pastries) raise insulin levels which limits your ability to use fat for fuel.
Rising with a bowl of energy-sustaining oats is equally good. You get slow-digesting carbs to fend off any sleepiness, fiber to keep you feeling fuller for longer and a generous dose of protein to refuel your muscles. Buy the plain variety and flavor them yourself with honey, banana and mixed-berries.
#2. Get lean with protein!
Maximize your protein fix with lean-meats, fish and low-fat dairy for more muscle and less lard, fast. Aiding in post exercise tissue repair, research has shown that a high-protein will help you lose lard and hold on to muscle. And it gets better. Consuming quality proteins forces the body to work harder compared to fats and carbs and this extra work gobbles up up excess calories to aid in the digestive process.
In the body this is called a called a ‘thermogenic response’ and it’s the secret to whittling down your waistline while you chill out! In fact, boosting your protein intake from 15% to 30% can help you burn through an extra 750kj per day! Tuck in and aim to consume at least 35% of your daily kilojoules from this source safe in the knowledge that the best cut will be the one around your waistline. Don’t forget vegan options like spirulina, amaranth, quinoa, oats, wild rice, lentils, chia seeds and leafy green veggies, too!
#3. Shake up & slim down!
I get it. Eating right can be hard. I mean who has the time and patience to cook and prepare healthy meals 24/7? Sometimes it’s just not possible, and this is where a protein supplement can really help. You get all of the brawn-buffing and appetite-satisfying benefits in the convenience of a tub.
Protein quality is key. Look for a product with at least 30g of protein per serve and free from hidden nasties like casein/whey protein concentrate (WPC), gluten, maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, thickeners and gums. The cleaner your protein powder, the better. For those with lactose intolerance and other sensitivities, plant-based vegan powders are a great alternative.
Chug one anytime of the day, especially after exercise. Solid foods can take hours to digest and only release 4-7g of protein per hour. Have a whey protein shake after training. It’s the most easily digested protein you can feed your muscles.
To create a more filling, nutrient-dense shake, add things like oats, bananas, berries, yogurt, peanut butter and milk to a blender and you’ll have a healthy, belly-busting meal replacement to go in under a minute!
#4. Rethink your drink!
Beer and bellies go hand in hand. They ’empty’ calories found in the bottom of every bottle are devoid of nutritional value and at 150 calories a pop, its easy to see how they can lead to a ballooning belly. Beer also by inhibits the liver’s ability to burn fat. With their sky-high sugar content, soda’s don’t fare much better either. By all means have one occasionally, but if you want to lose the belly, it’s best to cut back.
Instead, consider water your new ally in the battle of the bulge. It aids in digestion and boosts your metabolism by up to 30%. Keeping it cold maximizes this effect, as your body seeks out and destroys extra flab warming it up before it can be absorbed. To find out how may liters you should drink per day, divide your weight in kilo’s by 30. Arm yourself with a water bottle during the day and guzzle at first sight! Too boring? Boost it with a squeeze of citrus. Oranges, limes and lemons are loaded with Vitamin C and can boost testosterone levels!
#5. Keep it real!
Not seeing results from your healthy eating efforts can sap your motivation. Keep it simple. If you’re not seeing the scales budge, reduce your total caloric intake by 500 calories per daily (the equivalent of 1 Big Mac, or 2 Snickers bars) and monitor your weight and progress until you’re losing ~1-2lbs/week. Finally, we’re not advocating a fast-food embargo. Eating right should be fun and feel good knowing you’re provisioning your body with the fuel it needs to seek out and destroy belly fat while still being able to enjoy your favorite foods. Occasionally splurging will keep yourself from falling off the wagon without any sense of sacrifice. Go ahead, have a beer or that pizza, just don’t over do it!
Don’t be a couch potato!
This is the bottom line when it comes to stripping away belly fat. It’s great if you’re committed to working out 3 days a week, but if you’re not getting regularly active for at least 30 minutes a day, you’re not doing yourself (or your belly) any favors. Any activity is good activity and contributes to your daily calorie burn, so get moving!
Getting up and out of the house is always good, but ditch the car (unless you’re using to get to the park or beach). Your mindset should be one where you’re always looking to take advantage of any and all opportunities to get active, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. These small things can quickly add up to measurable changes, so get creative and think what you can do!