Need Help Getting Lean? Here Are Some Pointers

While there is no one magic solution when it comes to reducing belly fat, and unfortunately, it's not possible to spot-reduce fat specifically from your tummy, you can lower your overall body fat percentage, which will help slim your waistline.

Keep in mind that losing belly fat is not just to feel confident in a bathing suit! Having visceral fat in your stomach can be dangerous, as it has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. Slimming down your belly can help prevent these conditions.

Although HIIT training and lifting weights can help burn overall body fat, which will in turn decrease belly fat, you will get the most results if you take a hard look at your diet. If what you have tried in the past has not helped you get lean and reduce your belly fat, follow these healthy eating tips:

Create a Calorie Deficit

It is important to know how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight. "Caloric needs are based on numerous factors, but the most important ones for a healthy individual include gender, age, weight, height, and activity level. To figure out this number, either meet with a nutritionist, dietitian or as a rough estimate, you can also use an online calculator.

Next step is to figure out how many calories you need to lose weight. Most online calculators will be able to give you a few parameters, but it is a matter of trial and error. It is recommended to go for a moderate calorie deficit, not a major one, to avoid extreme hunger. Not to say you cannot do an aggressive cut, but they are much less sustainable and harder to adhere too over time - this could result in binge-eating.

Focus on Whole Foods

Eat foods in the form most closely found in nature. Do not forget that whole foods are loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals, and fibre to keep you full. This is incredibly helpful when you are looking to achieve satiety, so you do not overeat.

Your plate should be made up of whole foods, such as complex carbs including fruit, sweet potatoes, and whole grains, plus a variety of veggies, nuts, and seeds, as well as lean protein. Try to limit the packaged foods with tons of ingredients, additives, and dyes. Although these are not terrible for you, they tend to be much more calorie dense and less nutritious.

It is also good to note that when you are in a calorie deficit, your immune system is slightly compromised and so it helps to stuff your body with as much micronutrients as possible!

Get Enough Daily Protein

One macro to focus on for fat loss is protein. Getting lean protein at every single meal helps to not only build muscle but to also satiate hunger. Getting enough protein makes it easier to stick to your daily calorie goals because you will feel satisfied.

For protein, you need about 2-2.2 grams per kg of bodyweight, depending on how active you are. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 20 to 30 grams of lean protein at every meal from sources that are low in saturated fats and processed carbohydrates. Now, this does not necessarily mean eat more meat, there are many plant sources that contain protein, including grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and vegetables."

Treat Yourself Once a Day

Don't give up any foods or food groups entirely, because denying yourself the bites you crave can backfire, causing you to feel deprived, resulting in binge-eating. So make a point to keep yourself happy and your cravings satisfied by allowing a small treat every day, such as a square of dark chocolate, one of these mini vegan strawberry cheesecakes, a handful of chips, or a small glass of wine.

Learn Your Hunger Scale

Many of us eat out of habit to satisfy cravings because we are bored, because it is a certain time of day (noon equals lunchtime!), or because someone else is eating around us. So, get to know what true hunger feels like. If you are not hungry for breakfast at 8am, it's okay to push it to 10am when you are actually hungry.

Be mindful of the hunger scale. It is a scale from one to 10, with one being your absolute hungriest, feeling-lightheaded level, five being completely neutral (not hungry and not at all full), and 10 being uncomfortably stuffed. You want to grab a snack or meal at about a three, when you are moderately hungry, and stop eating around a six, just past that completely neutral feeling.

Basically, you want to develop a personalized eating schedule where you eat when fairly hungry (if you waited another hour, you'd be famished) and eat just enough to feel satisfied and be hungry again three to four hours later.

Meal Prep and Plan Ahead

Reducing belly fat ultimately comes down to how you eat, rather than your workout routine. And you have probably heard it before: “you can't exercise away a bad diet”. Abs truly are made in the kitchen.

This means a healthy diet is essential to your weight-loss success. Instead of choosing (not-so-healthy) meals in the moment, planning out and prepping a week's worth of meals and snacks will help you stay on track.

Limit Alcohol (or Avoid It Completely)

That glass of wine or bottle of beer every night with dinner isn't doing your waistline any favours. Each drink is around 80 to 150 calories (or more!), and aside from that,  drinking can dull your willpower and make you more likely to say yes to food when you're not hungry (been there!). Excessive alcohol will cause the liver to stop metabolizing fat and carbohydrates in order to metabolise the alcohol first. If you do not want to give it up entirely, choose one or two nights a week to enjoy a drink. Remember moderation is key!

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