Surely you’ve heard the terms ‘muffin top’ and ‘love handles’ to describe the excess fatty areas around the waist. And many of us are wanting to lose belly fat but aren’t really sure where to begin.
Whether it’s for health reasons, to lessen the risk of disease,(1) or simply because you want to feel more confident in your skin – tightening up your belly can be really tough. And the truth is, core exercises alone aren’t the best way to lose belly fat.
The truth about leaner abs is…
- Reducing belly fat takes time and continuous effort
- You should work on improving your nutrition first to encourage overall fat loss (and not specific exercises to lose belly fat which is secondary.)
- Chronic stress can prevent the midsection weight from coming off.
- Hormones can also have effects on weight loss and weight gain and can be the cause of the inability to lose or keep weight off.(2)
Again, the core area is often slower to show results after transitioning to a healthier diet and exercise routine, so the best way to lose belly fat is to stay consistent with your workouts and healthy diet and have patience with getting the results you want.
The healthy benefits of a strong core:
Having a strong core is beneficial for the whole body, not only the appearance of having toned abs. A strong core can prevent injuries, improve posture, and help with balance and performance. Check out these 20 core exercises and learn how to build your own workout in Workout Creator in the adidas Training app.
The healthiest and best way to lose belly fat
Your health and fitness journey should be driven by a desire for a healthier lifestyle rather than feeling pressured to meet any outside expectations on appearance. Trying to fix a certain “flaw” often leads to crash diets and useless exercises. Plus, it weighs on your confidence.
With an unhealthy approach to losing unwanted belly fat, you’ll likely invest in quick fixes like unhealthy diets and exercise routines in the hope that you’ll see the results you want faster. But if you don’t see the results faster or you lack the energy you need to perform your normal activities, you will feel frustrated and might even be tempted to completely give up.
A more rewarding approach would be to focus on your body as a whole, because in truth, there are no special exercises that get rid of love handles. Your body is the vehicle with which you experience life – improving your overall wellness will make you healthier, happier, and more content overall – not just fit better in your jeans.
Here are four practical steps to take to achieve a healthier body…
4 tips to reduce muffin top long-term
The following tips are prioritized based on how much of an impact they have on reducing belly fat. We suggest applying these tips in order to see optimal success.
1. Cut calories (moderately, but consistently!)
Putting your body in a fat loss mode is the only way you will eventually lose the excess abdominal fat and keep it off.
Sustainable weight loss is based on a moderate, steady calorie deficit. To make sure that you are in a moderate deficit you need to calculate how many calories you burn (your Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and how much you eat. Aim for about 300-500 calories below your TDEE. Check out these tips on how to start your weight loss journey.
Is there a specific diet that is recommended to lose belly fat?
No, as long as you are able to maintain the necessary deficit and not eat too little, you are doing it right. Think about what is the least amount of calories I need to cut to see results – not what is the lowest number of calories I can function on. This expert diet review will teach you all you need to know!
Here are some more ways to cut calories and lose belly fat:
2. Eat more protein & less sugar
Protein supports your body transformation
Protein is the building block of your body and it becomes especially important when you are trying to change your body composition. Protein is not just crucial for building muscles; it is also extremely important when trying to lose fat. By eating enough protein your body will not lose muscle mass. Plus, it makes you feel full longer. Find out all you need to know about protein.
Are you vegan?
There are plenty of ways to ensure that you get enough protein on a vegan diet. And one great vegan protein source has been found in pea protein.(3) Learn more about other vegan protein sources in this post.
Sugar can mess up your plans
Sugar goes by many different names and is often a hidden additive in many foods. When you consume too much added sugar, your body becomes used to it – even “addicted” to it – and starts to have more cravings for it. Obviously, reaching for a banana or other fruit to satisfy the urge for sweets is better – even though it still has plenty of natural sugar.
Sugar cravings can make it extremely hard to maintain the calorie deficit. So what should you do? Consider a 30-day no-sugar challenge and see how that experience shapes your view of nutrition.
Do I really have to cut all sugar to lose belly fat?
Not really. Losing weight is not about extremes. You can still eat occasional desserts and sweets. And there’s always the option of delicious AND low-calorie treats. The key is not to over-indulge – keep sweets to smaller portion sizes and maintain a steady calorie deficit.
3. Get more sleep
The importance of sleep is often underestimated when it comes to weight loss. You can read countless studies and lists of benefits of sleep, but nothing will be as convincing as simply doing an experiment yourself. Often we are not aware of how sleep-deprived we are and the consequences it has on our appetite, cravings, mood, energy, and motivation. Understanding common sleep myths will help you grasp how sleep works.
Make it a priority to get the best quality sleep you can for a couple of days and observe how it affects your cravings and moods. If you find yourself battling insomnia, there are things you can try to conquer better sleep. This sleep calculator will help you determine the optimal wake-up time based on sleep cycles.
4. Fix your workout plan
Just because it’s the last tip on our list doesn’t mean workouts aren’t important for losing muffin top. But remember, they can’t make up for poor nutritional habits.
If you don’t have a workout plan – get one! Why not start with the Fit & Strong in 3 Weeks plan on the adidas Training app?
If you do have a workout plan, it’s time to evaluate its effectiveness:
- Is your training plan focused on “ab workouts for love handles”? Doing targeted ab work shouldn’t be your top priority. Focus on full-body workouts and add extra ab work only if time allows.
- Do you work out less than three times per week? Aim for at least three workouts per week. And if you find it especially hard to add in those extra times for exercise, consider a super effective HIIT workout.
- Are your workouts always the same? Your plan should include a variety of exercises so that you don’t get used to the same routine.
Are special exercises for love handles the best way to reduce lower belly fat?
Isolated exercises focused on your midsection are not going to slim the area. Instead, you need to stay consistent with a full-body exercise routine and maintain a moderate calorie deficit in order to lose body fat.
Do ab workouts make a difference in getting rid of muffin top and love handles?
While abs workouts don’t speed up your weight loss, there is definitely value in training your abs. Your midsection transfers force throughout the body and stabilize your posture while helping to prevent injuries. Having a strong core assists you in your overall fitness performance.
Shifting to a healthier lifestyle starts with how you speak of your body; negative self-talk doesn’t benefit you. Instead, make adjustments for a healthier lifestyle to honor your body. Start by changing your eating habits, making sure to get enough sleep and protein, stopping ravenous sugar cravings, and adjusting your workout plan.
If you do this, your lifestyle will change in a healthier direction.