How do I get rid of my tummy?
In 11 years as a personal trainer I think that I probably get asked this question on a near daily basis!
It doesn’t matter what size, shape, sex, build or age you are, at some point in your life you too will ask this question.
The tummy has a complete lifecycle of its own.
Most babies have little pot bellies, which disappear when they start moving more. Then puberty hits and “puppy fat” arrives. The hormones finally settle down but then there is the college years when copious amounts of fast food is consumed and the discovery of alcohol. We become a young adult and maybe get a job, most likely an inactive job in an office, driving to and from the office, drinking coffee and more than likely there is a regular round of birthday cakes that you can’t resist. Then there’s marriage, kids, birthday parties, weddings, holidays, stress, wine, more wine and so on and so on. Then we get older…
I can understand why I get asked this question so much!
So how do you get rid of your tummy fat?
The obvious answer is that you need to eat a healthy, nutritious diet and do plenty of exercise, but unfortunately it’s not always as simple and straightforward as that. Yes…you must do both of these things but there are also some other sometimes surprising reasons why you may be carrying some excess weight around your middle.
Work through this list and you will probably be able to answer the question for yourself.
Check your diet
Are you eating lots of refined sugar and processed food? A processed food is usually one that comes in a packet and has more than three ingredients in the list, usually very high in sugar - and these items are not necessarily sweet. Next time you open a bag of crisps just take a look a look at the list of ingredients. Focus on eating quality meat and fish, whole-grains and fresh vegetables - increasing the amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals you are eating.
Check what you are drinking
Squash, fizzy drinks, fruit juice and all alcoholic beverages will increase your tummy fat. Tea and coffee in limited quantities are ok but not if you are adding sugar, sweetener or syrup to them. If you are really serious about losing the tummy then your best bet is to stick to water and green tea.
Are you drinking enough water?
You should be drinking a minimum of two litres of fresh, plain water per day to cleanse your liver, remove toxins from your body and ensure your metabolism is in full working order.
Are you getting enough sleep?
The body needs to get plenty of sleep to ensure it has time to repair itself and keep your metabolism working as it should. Lack of sleep, or disrupted sleep alters the metabolism and boost the body’s ability to store fat.
Are you stressed?
When you are stressed (whether you know it or not), the stress hormone cortisol is coursing around your body. This hormone prepares your body for “fight or flight” mode, giving you an immediate burst of energy. This was all fine in the days when the reason for your stress was to fight or flee from a wild animal but for modern stress the extra energy is not required and turns into fat instead.
Check your posture
When was the last time you really focused on how you stand? Standing upright with good posture engages your core, immediately flattening your tummy. All of us spend a considerable amount of time sitting down, hunched over a desk or driving a car, and forget how to hold ourselves. This leads to lazy muscles and will only exasperate the belly. Be mindful about sitting or standing upright, shoulders relaxed, head up and tummy engaged. Practice everyday until it becomes autonomous.
Focus on your core, not your abdominals.
It is not possible to spot reduce body fat by exercise. Meaning…if you do 100 sit ups everyday (and this is incredibly bad for you so I do not recommend it), this alone will not get rid of your tummy. You should focus on the whole body and ALWAYS engage the core when doing any exercise, whether it is cardio, strength or stretching.
A combination of high intensity workouts (HIIT, running, walking etc), bodyweight exercises (squats, push ups, lunges etc), and stretching (yoga and pilates) will all help decrease the tummy fat.
Do you have an intolerance?
All of the above takes time, energy and consistency. However, if you honestly feel that are doing all of the above then perhaps there might be something else going on and it is time to consult a healthcare professional.
It could be an intolerance in your diet. Sometimes with the aid of a food diary these can be easy to spot and could be surprising. I have had clients in the past who are intolerant to lettuce, bananas, grapes and dried apricots. It’s not necessarily alway the obvious gluten or dairy products.
Perhaps your hormone levels are not quite as they should be. The levels can often be balanced out by good diet but not always. It could be time to get your thyroid checked.
And finally, maybe you are lacking a vital vitamin or mineral in your diet. This can be a little more difficult to diagnose but a quick visit to the GP in the first instance will help to determine if it needs to investigated further.
Have you answered your question?
I know I have. I need to eat less refined sugar, drink more water, sleep more, stop stressing and do more exercise. And I’m pretty certain you will have found the same answer.
Eat fresh, unprocessed food.
Stay well hydrated with at least 2 litres of water per day.
Sleep for at least 8 hours per night.
Keep your stress levels in check.
Focus on getting the body moving every day.
Strengthen your muscles.
Know your body and its needs.
Avoid alcohol, sugary, processed food, late nights, high stress, and lots of sit ups!