Doing daily crunches but still struggling to lose your lower belly fat? This is a common experience. All of the abdominal exercises in the world aren’t enough to help get rid of unwanted weight around your middle.
Getting rid of stubborn lower belly fat can be challenging, as fat seems to want to stick around the lower stomach longer than other parts of the body.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help lose that lower belly fat once and for all. Read on to learn about proven strategies to trim up your lower belly.
What Are the Causes of Lower Belly Fat?
While everyone has a unique body shape, many people struggle with lower belly fat. Men and women of all ages can store an extra layer of fat in their midsection. Certain factors, such as age, sex, and body type play a role.
Other causes of lower belly fat include:
- Genetics. Your genes determine your body type and how fat is distributed throughout your body. For example, people with apple-shaped bodies tend to store more fat around the belly pooch, whereas pear-shaped body types tend to store more weight in the hips and thighs.
- Lifestyle. Your diet, exercise levels, sleep, and stress management all play a role in how and where your body stores fat. People with higher stress levels tend to store more fat in the belly area. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are at greater risk of gaining weight, having a slow metabolism, and developing other health issues.
- Hormones. Hormonal deficiencies can lead to hormonal weight gain and an increase in abdominal fat. For example, women who have lower levels of estrogen — as a result of menopause — tend to have an increase in body fat that may settle in the abdominal area.
- Alcohol consumption. Studies show that alcohol intake is linked to weight gain and obesity in some individuals. Drinking an excess of alcohol may cause people to gain weight around their bellies.
- Smoking. Though smoking itself won’t cause weight gain, researchers have found smokers have more belly fat than nonsmokers.
What Are the Health Risks of Lower Belly Fat?
Chances are you’ve heard that having extra weight around your lower abdomen is bad for your health.
Known as “visceral fat,” fat located in the abdominal cavity is linked to a number of health concerns, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol levels
- Hormone imbalance
- Insulin resistance
While belly fat comes with health risks for both men and women, a new study found that women who carry more weight around the waist had a 10-20 percent greater risk of heart attack than women who had extra weight distributed throughout their bodies.
How Long Does It Take To Lose Lower Belly Fat?
Belly fat is called “stubborn” for a reason. It’s typically the hardest to get rid of, and many people find it challenging to shed it for good.
Though it can be difficult, it isn’t impossible to get rid of lower belly fat. However, losing weight is an individual experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Many factors, including your activity level, age, genetics, and environment can impact how quickly you lose belly fat.
Some people looking to get rid of lower belly fat may do 100 crunches a day, or work harder at abdominal exercises.
Unfortunately, targeted weight loss doesn’t work. It isn’t possible to do a certain set of exercises or eat a specific way to lose weight from your midsection. Focus instead on reducing your overall body fat percentage. In time, this will reduce your belly fat.
The best way to do this is to eat at a caloric deficit. One pound of fat is equivalent to approximately 3,500 calories. So if you want to lose a pound of fat, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories. You can do this by reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories per day. In doing so, you could lose 1 pound a week. This is a steady, healthy pace that can help ensure your long-term success.
Tracking your calories using an app is an easy way to keep a log of how many calories you’re eating each day. There are a number of free and low-cost apps available to help you log your meals and track how much you’re eating each day.
How To Lose Lower Belly Fat
When you exercise, your body draws energy from your entire body, not just the part that you’re trying to focus on toning and strengthening.
The following strategies will help you reduce your overall body fat, and eventually help you shed that extra weight around your waist.
- Cut calories. The most tried-and-true way to lose extra weight is a sustainable caloric deficit. Use a journal or app to track your calorie intake. Try to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories each day in order to lose one pound per week.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. The ideal diet to help you drop unwanted body fat is one rich in lean proteins (e.g., chicken, salmon), high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains. Avoid pre-packaged and highly processed foods with refined carbs, as these foods often contain added sodium and sugar, which can make weight loss more difficult.
- Exercise regularly. When combined with a healthy diet, regular exercise is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Though it isn’t possible to lose weight in just one area of the body, a good workout can help reduce your overall body fat. Try getting 30-60 minutes of exercise each day, ideally including both cardio and strength training. Walking, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can all help you build muscle mass and burn stomach fat.
- Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is linked to weight gain, so it’s important to reduce how many sweet treats and processed foods you eat. Swap high-sugar beverages (juices, soda, alcohol) with water or other calorie-free, sugar-free drinks, and try to swap out packaged snacks for complex carbohydrates.
- Intermittent fasting. Limiting the hours of the day you eat can help support fat loss. Intermittent fasting (IF) means you have an 8-hour “window” in which you can eat each day, and you abstain from food the other 16 hours. Studies show that IF may have benefits for factors involved with weight loss, including waist circumference, body composition, and lean muscle tissue. It may also have beneficial effects on heart health and healthy aging.
- Reduce stress. Chronic stress releases cortisol, a stress hormone that is linked to weight gain and even heart disease. By finding ways to manage and reduce your stress levels, you may have an easier time losing weight. Try taking a walk in nature, meditating, or unwinding with a good book.
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your physical and mental wellbeing. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood sugar levels may drop, triggering cravings for foods high in sugar. Create a healthy bedtime routine, and aim to get 7-9 of sleep each night.
- Consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Hormone replacement therapy can be helpful for people who have a hormonal imbalance and/or low estrogen or testosterone levels. A decline in estrogen levels, for example, can lead to an increase in abdominal fat. HRT may help decrease belly fat and improve your overall health.
Once you’ve made these changes, tracking your progress can serve as motivation and inspiration to keep going. Taking your waist measurements is one way to see just how much belly fat you’re losing as you make these dietary and lifestyle changes.
Measure your waist by looping a tape measure around your waist (just above your hip bone). Write down how many inches it is and remeasure once a month to track your progress. In general, women with waist sizes above 35 inches and men with waist sizes above 40 inches are considered to be at risk for developing obesity-related health conditions.
There is no way to lose fat just in your belly. Reducing your overall body weight is the best way to lose stubborn belly fat. By eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, your body will naturally begin to lose weight. Try not to get discouraged and remember that areas like the belly are often the last place fat comes off.
If you suspect your belly fat is the result of hormonal changes, Elite HRT is here to help.
Fill out our contact form, and one of our wellness consultants will get in touch with you soon.
We would be happy to discuss your concerns, answer your questions, and share information about whether or not hormone replacement therapy might be helpful for you.
Belly fat may pose more danger for women than for men | Harvard Health Publishing
Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update| Springer Link
Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight? | NCBI
Hormone Replacement May Fight Belly Fat, Study Says |CNN Health