I’m gonna start by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having belly fat. There are healthy and unhealthy levels of course and you would have to get this checked out for yourself if you want to know whether you’re cool from a health perspective. When your body fat percentage is too high, you will also (in most cases) be at risk of having unhealthy levels of fat surrounding your organs, and that can be dangerous. So if you suspect that you have too much belly/body fat, or that you’re within the overweight/obese category, you should defs go and have a check. Your health should always be the number one priority over everything else. Would you believe me when I say it is equally unhealthy and dangerous to have too little belly fat? You are also at high risk of serious illness if your belly fat/overall body fat percentage is too low. 

So while there is nothing wrong with having healthy levels of visible tummy fat, I also understand the want/need to reduce it for appearance reasons. This is purely a preference thing and what makes you feel good and confident. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as it doesn’t pose a threat to your physical and mental health. I don’t see the issue with wanting to be healthy AND confident in your appearance. Confidence plays such a huge role in every aspect of our lives and I believe that when you are happy & confident in your body and appearance, you will be happier & confident in other areas too.

So, HOW do we reduce belly fat?

Before I give you the facts (proven scientific facts btw), I’m going to highlight some myths and things that we’ve been led to believe over so many years. Eish.

You DO NOT have to:

  1. Remove carbs, fats, or your favorite foods
  2. Remove sugar from your diet
  3. Do a detox or juice cleanse or any type of cleanse (the only thing you need to cleanse is your mind with all the sh!t it’s been fed with regards to these exact points lol)
  4. Do endless hours of cardio
  5. Do an insane amount of ab/core exercises
  6. Buy fat-burning products or any supplements that promise to burn fat
  7. Use a waist trainer
  8. Be miserable and not enjoy yourself
  9. Remove alcohol (although I do recommend reducing intake)
  10. Eat salads only
  11. Eat low-fat or fat-free products only
  12. Eat 1200 calories a day

It’s all about your nutrition, your overall calorie intake and your daily habits. If you want to lose belly fat, you will have to make some adjustments to your diet, habits, and lifestyle. There are no exercises, specific food types or products that will burn your belly fat. It takes work!

You will need to get into a calorie deficit for overall fat loss, especially if you have a lot to lose. If you don’t have a lot to lose and you’re already relatively lean, sometimes a very small deficit or even maintenance calories would work and you can focus on increasing overall movement/level up with strength training. Every person and every situation/circumstance is different.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to just reduce belly fat and nothing else. “Lee, I just want to lose the tummy and nothing else” – The body doesn’t work like that. Kak hey. lol. Fat loss around the tummy will happen with an overall drop in body fat percentage. 

Here’s a little vibe to explain a calorie deficit. If you need help understanding/a more in depth explanation of calories, click here.

I suggest getting familiar with how many calories your unique body needs for you to lose fat. And please don’t worry about how many calories your body burns in a day, just focus on how much you need to be consuming for a deficit – That’s the most important thing. If you want a rough estimate of how much your body needs to lose fat, here’s a calculator for you that I found on the internet. You just have to fill in your details and it’ll give you estimated figures for maintaining your current weight, for weight/fat loss (cut/calorie deficit), and for weight gain (bulk/calorie surplus). 

There are many ways to be in a calorie deficit. You just have to experiment and figure out which method/way of eating works best for you. You have to choose something easy for you to adhere to and be consistent with. It must also be realistic. It’s highly individual so you have to know yourself and how best you will make progress without feeling like it’s a chore.

Ways to be in calorie deficit / ways to help you be in a deficit:

#1
Calorie count for a month or two to gain knowledge on foods, calories, and portions. This is the most accurate you’re gonna get IF done correctly. I always recommend doing this for a bit as a tool to educate yourself but only if you have a healthy relationship with food. Calorie counting isn’t for everyone and that’s fine.

#2
Make sure to have two or three proper (and I mean proper) balanced/satisfying meals per day with limited snacking. I mean properly bulk up your plate so that you are completely satisfied and satiated until your next meal. Prioritize high protein, carbs, fats & fiber. More filling meals & less mindless snacking. The snacks/snack choices can hinder progress if you’re not mindful.

#3
Reduce liquid calorie intake such as fizzy drinks, alcohol, milkshakes, frappuccino-like things, bubble teas etc etc. You’d be surprised as to how much progress you can make by just reducing this one thing, provided that the rest of your calories for the day are in check. Don’t demonise them either, they are OK to have! But if you know that you’re maybe taking in too much, it might be a good idea to just reduce your intake. For example, if you usually have 3 fizzy drinks/juices per day – make it two or one. Or dilute juice with water. Or have one cup of coffee with everything you want in it, and the rest of them black. Or find lower calorie alternatives if you need to. Oros is pretty low-cal. Make sense? There are WAYS!

#4
Incorporate whole foods into your diet and try to reduce the processed stuff. Whole foods meaning fresh meats and fruits/vegetables. Processed meaning most franchise-type takeaways, sweets, chips, cakes, chocolates, pizza – all the lekker things. lol. Make your own versions at home and enjoy the shop-bought things once in a while. 85% of whole foods and 15% processed fun foods are great. ALL foods fit into a healthy diet. Your favorites too! If you know how to eat for your goal/calorie target with confidence, you will still lose belly fat.

#5
Add in high volume low calorie foods. These are the types of foods that you can have a lot of (high volume), for few calories. For example – all green things like spinach, lettuce, cucumber, green beans. Most fruits & vegetables. Pumpkin, watermelon, berries etc etc. Read up on it. Not only will they fill you up, but you’ll also be getting all the nutrients your body needs to feel good.

The MAJORITY of your results are going to come from your diet/nutrition. You can lose belly fat by just being in a calorie deficit but many other factors are going to help and benefit you even more and I highly recommend you incorporate them for your physical and mental health and the BEST results.

They are:

  1. High-quality sleep 6-8 hours per night
  2. 2-3 strength training sessions per week (lift weights)
  3. Daily movement/walking – increased activity level
  4. 1 or 2 cardio sessions per week
  5. Stress/anxiety management

Here’s one of my gorgeous clients. She’s a 38 year old mom of two gorgeous kiddos and her life is pretty damn busy with work demands and various commitments. She has lost an INSANE amount of belly fat (overall body fat too) within 7 months. She was already pretty active to begin with, so we just made a few minor tweaks that were manageable. See tweaks below!

  1. She incorporated X2 strength training sessions per week
  2. She prioritised protein at every meal and continued to eat in a way that she enjoyed
  3. She didn’t count any calories – she just became more mindful of her food choices and tweaked some of her habits
  4. She reduced liquid calories. Simple switches like daily cappuccinos to americanos.

NB Note: She achieved this while still enjoying life. Going out to eat now and then, having alcohol, favorite foods, and takeouts – all in appropriate portions and in moderation. She also made it her mission to commit to her goal/s and prioritise the necessary time for herself, regardless of her crazy schedule.

Again, if you know how to eat for your goal/calorie target and are confident in your food choices, you will make progress. It just takes some learning and practice. It’s a journey, a process and it’s important to try enjoy and embrace your body through it all.

You also have to be patient and kind to yourself. A lot of the work you’re going to be doing is mental. Habit change requires mental toughness and resilience. You must know that results won’t happen after one day or one week of being in a calorie deficit. This sh!t can take months to years depending on your commitment and how hard you’re willing to go. So I encourage you to just do what needs to be done, put in the work/effort, and NO quitting allowed. Just keep going. Consistency is the one.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. I would love to hear from you! Also, don’t forget to share this article with others who need the guidance. 🙂

Lots of love,
Lee