Is it just me or does everyone seem to present themselves as an authority on how to lose stomach fat nowadays? Do this; try that; eat this… Friends, family and fitness practitioners are never short or advice when it comes to losing an unflattering bulge around your midsection.
Wading through the ‘BS’ and identifying advice worthy of contemplation can be tough with a seemingly endless stream of ‘quick fix’ theories on how to lose belly fat.
But. And this is a big BUT… While every Tom, Dick or Harry is forthcoming with suggestions on how to reduce your waistline… there is a bunch of really key information that is often omitted. Today I’m are going to run you through a dozen things no-one tells you before you embark on a fat loss journey.
Losing Weight Is Really Hard
Planning how to lose stomach fat and then executing your weight loss strategy is difficult. Countless experts wax lyrical on how simple it is, how little time it takes, or why following their straightforward program will melt stomach fat with minimal effort. Routinely this diatribe appears closely matched to promotion of an particular weight loss product.
You know what? This is not the case. Losing weight is hard work. Perhaps not physically (although it can be depending on your approach) but definitely mentally. There will be temptation, moments of weakness, periods when it all seems like a total waste of time. The psychological toll of weight loss can be immense. Healthy Eating Harbor delves further into the mental impact of weight loss here.
Yep, weight loss is not easy. However if you can navigate your way through the emotional low points without losing focus on broader goals you can achieve results.
It Will Take Time
Anyone that trumpets claims of dropping several pounds in just a few days, or the ability to squeeze into a dramatically smaller dress size in just a couple of weeks is generally pulling your leg! Successful weight loss tends to be a slow and sustained process. Achieving results will take time.
In order to lose body fat you need to consume fewer calories than your body requires. Your body will burn fat to make up the difference. A deficit of 3,500 calories will remove a single pound of fat. To lose one to two pounds in a week a shortfall of 500 to 1000 calories per day is mandatory.
Sensible weight loss advice typically points to targeting a maximum of two pounds per week. Any more and your body adjusts to the impending famine by conserving fat stores. In addition you may begin to break down muscle tissue to serve as an energy source.
Attempting extreme weight loss in a short period is akin to setting yourself up for failure. Those who lose weight in a slow and steady (and safe) fashion are significantly more likely to maintain their weight loss for an extended term.
Most People Fail
This isn’t something that Tom the Trainer tells you as you sign up to the gym on a new 12 month contract - but unfortunately it's very real. According to The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition only 20% of overweight individuals achieve long term weight loss success. That’s a staggering statistic! How do they define success? The loss of at least 10 percent of initial body weight for over a year warrants inclusion in the 20% group.
Why do people fail? Good question. There are a couple of popular explanations for why so many are unable to achieve fat loss goals. The first is a lack of knowledge. They don’t understand correct techniques to lose stubborn belly fat and keep it off. The good news… this reason should be relatively easy to resolve.
The second popular reason for failure basically boils down to laziness. Most people know it but won’t admit it. Those who abort their weight loss journey tend to have a lot in common – endless procrastination, constantly justifying missed workouts or lapses in adherence to nutritional plans. Reassuringly, there are strategies that you can put in place to assist with this.
A supplementary theory has garnered research support in the last couple of years. This one is rather alarming. Scientists believe habitual overeating and poor dietary choices may cause damage to signalling pathways in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates metabolism. Nerve damage from fats and simple sugars can affect the function of two of the bodies key hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, that pay a key role in regulating appetite, hunger and fullness.
There Will Be Sacrifices
Have you previously been convinced it is OK to indulge in your favourite foods without risk of derailing your weight loss passage? While yes (on occasion) a treat or reward may be in order – unfortunately weight loss is about sacrifice.
Not having dessert when you might crave one after dinner, avoiding the option of a tasty takeaway at the conclusion of a long hard day. Getting up early to make lunch rather than buying it. Even dragging yourself out on a Sunday night to shop for the week ahead. There will be sacrifices… you need to prepare yourself for them.
Excess Skin Is Part Of The Deal
When losing a significant volume of belly fat, chances are you will get a daily reminder of your weight loss in the form of excess skin. You skin could be sagging, or even stretch marked owing to the amount of fat your body has endured. The amount of excess skin or how saggy it appears relies on a range of factors – how much weight you have lost, your age, how quickly you dropped it and more. Losing weight slowly and sensibly does allow the skin on your body to naturally tighten somewhat. For further advice on how to get rid of loose skin after weight loss have a nosy at this article from muscle for life.
Other People Will Try To Help
We eluded to this above… but some of your friends and colleagues will have endless advice for you regardless of whether you choose to involve them in your weight loss journey. They will attempt to assist you where they can…
And… Some People Will Derail Your Efforts
Unfortunately, friends are also likely to derail your weight loss efforts along the way. Whether it is encouraging you to take ‘a night off’ your dietary regime, to stick around for a few more drinks, or perhaps even unwanted comments like ‘go on’, ‘just try it’ or ‘you deserve a break’. They may believe they are being friendly – but in reality they are creating an unnecessary barrier to achieving your end goals. Do your friends sabotage your healthy diet?
The Older You Get The Harder It Gets
A common saying when it comes to weight loss is ‘age is no barrier’. This is somewhat correct. No matter how old you are you can improve your health, fitness and lose weight. However, the reality is it can become more difficult as you age. Particularly if you have had a long period of sedentary behaviour and have lost significant muscle mass. Lean body mass is a key predictor of metabolic rate, and reductions in muscle profile will impact your fat burning metabolism making it increasingly difficult to reverse belly fat gains.
Don't Become Obsessed With Belly Fat
Do you have friends who are constantly going on and on about the number of sit ups they have done, the amount of times they've been to the gym… and either they or you can’t understand why they are unable to shift excess belly fat or produce a sleek well defined set of abs.
Spot Reduction doesn’t work. What am I talking about? Spot reduction refers to the belief that fat can be targeted for reduction from a specific area of the body. Sadly, this is not true. To lose fat in a particular localized area (like the belly) your overall body fat percentage must be reduced. No volume of abdominal targeted training will do it.
Sad news I know. But various research studies have scrutinised this theory. A 2007 study by the University of Connecticut selectively exercised 104 participants to assess changes in subcutaneous fat stores. MRI assessments opposed the concept of spot reduction finding that fat loss tended to be generalised regardless of the body part trained.
You Might Not Notice The Changes For A While
You may struggle away for what seems like an eternity wondering if you are making any progress. It can be pretty disheartening. Often there will be limited change on the scales or body fat measures.
However, if you follow the plan (assuming the plan is a sound one) you will slowly but surely make changes to your body. It may not be until you look back at old photos, or begin to receive comments from friends before you start to realize you are creating change.
Losing Stomach Fat Is Not The Destination
Achieving your weight loss goal is fantastic. Whether it was losing a couple of pounds, 20kgs or more. But the most important detail to remember is this isn’t the end of the road. If you fall into the trap of considering the job is done you'll fall back into old eating habits and quickly accumulate lost weight again. Ongoing weight management is essential to avoid a relapse.
Stressing About Losing Weight Makes It Worse
Cortisol is released when the body is exposed to a particular stressor. When under stress healthy habits can be difficult to maintain. Cortisol is a critical hormone and plays a primary role in the provision of energy for the body. Increased Cortisol prompts the body to increase insulin levels, promotes fat storage, and drives higher blood sugar to guide you through stressful situation. These changes can be associated with cravings for fatty or carbohydrate rich snack foods.
Don’t stress about losing your belly fat, or minor bumps in the road. Also, make time for stress release and try to minimize stress points in your life… it will help you get rid of that excess belly fat.
Are there any big surprises you've found when undertaking your own weight loss journey? We would love to hear about them below.