When it comes to exercises to lose belly fat, there’s probably more misinformation out there than any other topic I’ve ever seen.
So today I want to go over how it really works so that you can understand it and get the results that you want.
There are probably millions of videos and articles and lists online that tell you exercises to lose belly fat and get from here to here in a day or week,
The problem is that 99% of those videos and lists are just lying,
They are incorrect, and most of them talk about doing some silly crunches or some abdominal workout.
It just doesn’t work like that.
About 1% of those lists and articles talk about aerobic exercise and that 1% is the correct one.
But today we want to go over and understand why it works that way and how do we optimize that.
Understanding the Belly fat
The belly fat has two types of fat.
Firstly, we have the subcutaneous fat, that’s the one that you can grab.
Subcutaneous simply means under the skin, so if the white line here represents the skin, the next thing would be subcutaneous fat.
And then you have your muscle, the rectus abdominis, which is the 6-pack in people who have trained it a lot and who don’t have any subcutaneous fat to speak of to cover it up.
And then the next layer in is the visceral fat,
Visceral fat is what gives you the big midsection and the visceral fat sits next to the organs.
It’s dangerous because of the way it got there,
It’s not the fat itself that’s dangerous, but the hormones that gave rise to it.
Visceral fat is very specific; it’s very clear why it got there,
There are two hormones called insulin and cortisol,
Insulin results from eating frequent meals and high carbs and cortisol is a stress hormone that drives up blood sugar and further increases insulin.
Once we have visceral fat or organ fat, the first organ to get affected is the liver,
And the vast majority of people with a big midsection is going to have a fatty liver,
If they don’t drink, it’s going to be non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; if they drink it could be a combination of alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
If you have visceral fat, there is no amount of crunches in the world that’s going to solve that problem,
The only thing that’s going to take care of it is to reduce the insulin resistance,
And in order to do that, we have to reverse the thing that brought it on in the first place,
And because insulin and cortisol is the cause, we have to have a dietary intervention,
If it was sugar and carbs and frequent meals that caused it, we have to undo that, we have to eat fewer meals and fewer carbs and less sugar.
It’s not that exercise has no impact on insulin resistance, but it might be like 5% versus 95% so we can still exercise and get some benefits if we do it the right way.
One more thing before we get to the five top exercises to lose belly fat,
We have to understand aerobic VS anaerobic exercise because that’s the whole difference between burning fat or burning glucose, between increasing or decreasing insulin resistance.
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic means with air, with oxygen, when we’re going at a gentle pace, we can breathe fast enough,
The lungs can provide enough oxygen that the mitochondria can burn fat almost exclusively,
They’re always going to burn a little bit of a mix with fat and glucose,
But if you’re fat-adapted and truly aerobic, you’re going to be in the 90% range of fat-burning,
When we stay in that mode, we can burn fat with oxygen and provide enough fuel without eating any additional carbohydrate or without making any additional cortisol.
Now we can use up the fat stores and we’re not going to trigger any insulin,
So this type of exercise is actually reducing insulin resistance and that’s what we want.
How do you know whether you are doing Aerobic exercises correctly or not?
One rule of thumb is that your heart rate should be about 120 or less when you’re doing aerobic exercise.
The other way you can tell is that, you’re not huffing and puffing, that you’re breathing comfortably, that you could speak almost a complete sentence while you’re doing it.
Another way you know is that you can keep it up for a good while because you’re not straining and exhausting the body, 30 to 90 minutes or even longer is not a problem,
And once you’re done with it, you can sit down for a few minutes, then you’re as fresh as when you started.
What is Anaerobic Exercise?
Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, are a completely different animal and it means without oxygen.
In this, we switch from burning fat to burning glucose.
And the reason is that, when we don’t have oxygen, our body enters in an emergency mode,
The oxygen and the fat isn’t enough to fuel the body,
So now, we have to find another source of fuel, which is glucose,
We can split glucose, we can use glycolysis, and we can generate some energy in the absence of oxygen,
But now we’re burning through the glucose, so the body will try to compensate and replenish the glucose with gluconeogenesis,
And there’s a hormone called cortisol that it uses to do that, and now with cortisol involved raising blood sugar, we’re actually going to start increasing insulin resistance.
So Aerobic exercise is accomplishing what we want in burning belly fat,
And anaerobic exercise becomes counterproductive.
Most of the time, your heart rate is going to be about 120 to 160 and most people are probably going to keep it up for about fifteen to thirty minutes, maybe forty-five if you’re strong-willed.
But the point is, you can’t keep it up as long as you can in the aerobic exercises, and afterward you’re going to be exhausted and you will need some time for recovery.
So now let’s look at the
Exercises to lose belly fat
If you want to burn belly fat through exercise, the number one thing to do is walking or something of similar intensity.
Walking meets all the criteria for aerobic exercise that we just talked about.
2. Treadmill/ Stationary Bike
If you have some home equipment like a treadmill or an elliptical or a stationary bike, those are also great tools and great ways of exercising as long as you still keep it aerobic.
So the intensity needs to be similar to walking or at least not where you start huffing and puffing.
3. Crunches, Planks, Pilates, and Core strength
Now that’s still a good exercise, it’s not going to help you specifically with belly fat or insulin resistance,
But it’s still a very good thing to do because it’s not going to hurt you to do some core strength while you’re already improving your insulin resistance.
Here’s why core strength can be so beneficial,
It has some obvious benefits from strengthening your back, reducing back pain, being able to lift and bend better,
But when you’re working the core and the spine, the better your core is working the better it is connected signal wise to the brain.
So basically, the stronger your core the stronger your
And if you do some yoga and you get a flexible spine, that’s even better,
Because now if you have a range of motion and control through that full range of motion, now your brain is working really well,
And why do we want a working brain in this regard?
Because the strong brain is better at inhibiting the stress and it’s better at limiting the cortisol.
So indirectly you could help your insulin resistance by building a stronger brain.
But again, this is not the primary way that you get a flat belly.
4. HIIT workout
Then we are going to make cortisol, we are going to burn glucose, but we do it for only a few minutes, and then that cortisol spike is so short that it doesn’t matter.
But on the other hand, we get some tremendous positive benefits in terms of human growth hormone and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor)
These hormones will increase metabolism, they’ll increase fat burning for hours or even days after the workout.
So you work out for five minutes and then you burn fat for two days.
These two hormones are necessary and will improve your brain’s ability to make new brain cells and make new connections.
And just like we talked about with the core strength, when you build your brain, it can get better at reducing the stress,
And because the human growth hormone is fat-burning, it can also help improve your overall metabolism.
5. Weight Lifting
Weightlifting has a lot in common with high-intensity interval training, and if you do it like high-intensity interval training you can actually turn weight lifting into HIIT.
If you stress your muscles, if you push your muscles to failure then your body says
“Oh I better make more muscle tissue so I can get better at coping with this tomorrow if you plan to do this again”
So weight lifting will increase human growth hormone, it will improve muscle tone and muscle building in the process.
The more we use the body and the muscles to signal, the more muscle tone we have, the more we’re also stimulating the brain.
So muscle tone equals brain tone, and we again get the benefits of stress reduction.
When we build more muscle, we can also improve the metabolism, not just through the growth hormone, but because muscle tissue is more metabolically active,
And by making sure that we build some muscle while we’re losing fat we can make sure that we maintain a better ratio of lean mass to fat mass.
But the way you want to do it is, you want to have a pretty high intensity and fairly low reps.
It’s okay to warm up of course and do some warm-up reps on low weights,
But then for the workout, you need to increase the intensity and reduce the reps because that’s how you challenge the body to make growth hormone and build muscle.
The trap some people fall into is they turn it into circuit training,
They go to the gym and there are ten or twelve or fifteen machines and they do 20-30 reps and they just go quickly from one to the other, and now it just turns into another anaerobic exercise.
You’re not going heavy enough to really challenge your body to build more muscle, you’re just sort of exhausting yourself and creating some muscle lactic acid.
The truth about exercises to lose belly fat
- Crunches don’t burn belly fat
Just because you work out a certain muscle like the rectus abdominis doesn’t make the fat travel from the tissue next to it into the muscle to get burned.
It doesn’t work like that, it follows the blood circulation and it’s systemic.
- To burn belly fat you have to reduce insulin resistance
- All exercise is stress.
So the trick is to exercise in such a way that you maximize the benefits and minimize the stress,
And the way to do that is to do mostly aerobic exercise. (About 70-80%)
- Core strength training 10-20%
The purpose of that is to tone and stimulate the brain.
That’s the ultimate purpose of all exercises.
5. Do some high-intensity interval training and some weights 10-20%
The reason you want to do that is for hormonal benefits, human growth hormones and brain-derived neurotrophic factor,
Those hormones will also help improve your metabolism.
Hopefully, now you know enough about the exercises to lose belly fat and the science behind them.
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