Among all fat-related problems today, belly fat is hands down the most problematic. In fact, we dare say we’ve been asked how to lose belly fat more times than other weight loss questions put together. It’s very easy to understand why, apart from causing an unflattering pear-shaped outline, belly fat poses several serious health issues. For example, it increases the risks of conditions like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and stroke.
Belly fat also poses many problems for your mental and emotional health. Many people, in a bid to lose abdominal fat, develop eating disorders like anorexia. Consequently, this can lead to excessive self-consciousness and an eventual loss of self-confidence.
Belly fat is a big problem, and for many, spot reduction is its silver bullet. However, how true is this claim? How effective is spot reduction for fat loss?
What is Spot Reduction?
Spot reduction is the idea that you can lose fat in certain areas of your body with area-specific exercises. Rather than do full-body workouts, you work out only the areas you have excess fatty deposits. For example, if you have flabby underarms, you’d perform only triceps exercises to reduce fat in that specific part. Also, if you have excess abdominal fat, you perform endless reps of abdominal exercises such as crunches, Russian Twists, and leg raises.
Does Spot Reduction Work?
So now we come to the big question? Can you spot-reduce belly fat? In theory, reducing fat in specific body parts should be possible. You do less work than you would in a full-body workout but still end up with your dream body. Unfortunately, weight loss doesn’t happen this way. It is simply impossible to spot reduce fat in a specific body part.
To understand why this is the case, you’d need to understand the science behind fat loss.
When you eat, your body converts any extra calories into stored fats. These fat stores are called triglycerides, and your body uses them later for energy. However, before your body can use these energy stores, they must be broken down into smaller units. These smaller units are known as fatty acids and glycerol.
The fatty acids and glycerol your body burns for energy can come from any location. It doesn’t matter the part of your body you work out. Your body converts your fat stores into energy from wherever it chooses. So, the fact that you do a hundred crunches daily will not help you burn belly fat.
In 2011, a six-week study on the effectiveness of spot reduction saw no reduction in belly fat. Similarly, in 2015, a 12-week abdominal training regimen in over 40 women recorded no reduction in belly fat.
How Then Can You Reduce Belly Fat?
If spot reduction does not work, what then is the secret to reducing fat in your belly? The answer is more straightforward than you’d expect. To reduce belly fat, you have to lose weight all over your body. There’s no hack or secret technique to losing belly fat. This is the ONLY proven way to burn belly fat.
This may not be the shortcut or hack you were expecting. However, we assure you that it is more effective than a thousand ab exercises and waist trainers put together. To get rid of belly fat, you need to get rid of overall body fat first. Below are a few things to do if you want to lose belly fat:
- Focus On Your Diet
The best way to combat belly fat is not to get it in the first place. Don’t eat more calories than you burn. It is easier to avoid eating 500 extra calories than to attempt to burn those calories. Unless you have Spartan discipline, it’s always going to be a big struggle.
The second way your diet can help with weight loss is by going into a caloric deficit. Here, you eat fewer calories than you burn. This forces your body to burn up its fat stores for energy. Over time, as your fat stores deplete, you begin to lose weight all around your body.
- Strength Training
This is the second half of the two-pronged solution to any weight loss issue. It is a known fact that strength training burns more calories than cardio. So, if you want to get rid of that belly fat properly, you better jump on the weight train. Basic resistance exercises like squats, push-ups, bench presses are very effective here. They increase your metabolism to optimum rates and help you build muscle along the way.
There’s no secret hack to losing belly fat. It all comes down to having a good weight loss regimen. Lose fat all over your body, and you’d see your belly fat magically disappear.
Note that we aren’t saying that ab exercises are useless. They are useful in building rock-solid abs. However, they do NOT burn the fat sitting above the abs. As long as you have excess belly fat, your abs are always going to be buried underneath. This ultimately defeats the purpose of all your hard work.