If you're specifically looking to target your belly, we have some bad news: you can't spot-target fat loss. That means you can do crunches or planks all day long, but you won't specifically burn belly fat. Instead, you can lose body fat overall, including from your belly. And by avoiding certain belly-bloating foods and with some strategic exercise, you will inevitably see results in your belly.
When most people think of HIIT they think of it as applicable only for cardio, yet it can also be used in weight training. After all, weight training itself is a form of HIIT—you do a set with all-out effort, rest, then do another set, rest, and repeat. Resting two to three minutes between sets, however, is too long for a training session to be considered an effective form of HIIT. But all you have to do is shorten rest periods and you're doing a kind of HIIT that burns fat.
"Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food," Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
Physical activity helps burn abdominal fat. “One of the biggest benefits of exercise is that you get a lot of bang for your buck on body composition,” Stewart says. Exercise seems to work off belly fat in particular because it reduces circulating levels of insulin —which would otherwise signal the body to hang on to fat—and causes the liver to use up fatty acids, especially those nearby visceral fat deposits, he says.
It’s called a beer belly for a reason! Alcohol consumption has long been associated with abdominal obesity and can easily derail your fat-loss efforts. Alcohol is not only high in calories, but it’s the body’s preferred fuel, so when you drink it, the other macronutrients in your food will be sent into storage (aka your belly, or possibly your thighs or butt). Alcohol is also notorious for lowering your self-control and inhibitions, so you can easily end up eating and drinking too much. Check out these home remedies that help you lose belly fat.
Too little sleep or too much sleep can throw your stress and regulatory hormones out of whack, and may lead to weight gain. A single night of sleep deprivation can increase levels of ghrelin (a hormone that promotes hunger), making you more likely to overeat the next day. Reduced sleep may also lead to fatigue during the day (duh) and less physical activity, which may be another reason why people who regularly don't get enough sleep tend to gain weight.
Drink sugar water once a day. This brain hack works by suppressing production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and is a small exception to the no sugar rule above. It was discovered by the late Dr. Seth Roberts, and tested and verified by Drs. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame. Done properly, it has a dramatic appetite-suppressant effect, making your diet much easier to follow.