I am in one of the most frustrating situations. I’ve been working out consistently for I’d say the last two years, and diet is generally healthy (aside from this weekend when I had a LOT of cake – but we won’t focus on that), and I’ve watched my body change over time: muscles have developed, arms are more toned, resilience is developing, but no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get that little below-abdominal area to flatten. Once a pouch, always a pouch right?
Apparently not. While it’s definitely true that you can’t target a specific area of your body when it comes to weight loss, it is possible to eat in a way that reduces overall body fat and work out in a way that turns fat into muscle.
Here’s what the experts recommend:

For your diet: 

Go for high protein
You’ll be fuller, thanks to the PYY hormone, which makes you less hungry; and you’ll notice your metabolic rate rising, which means you’ll burn more calories, faster.

Cut back on sugar
Do you know what happens to most of the sugar we eat? Here’s the fun answer: it ends up as fat. Totally unfair, we know, but the fructose from that harmless soda you had and those skittles you couldn’t resist gets metabolised by the liver, turned into fat, and dumped in your blood.

Don’t panic though, you can’t completely eliminate all sugar (it occurs naturally in fruit and veg after all). The best you can do is limit your intake – the World Health Organization recommend between 25 and 50 grams a day – and stick to natural sugars as much as possible; skip sodas, skip store-bought dressings and sauces, skip candy, cake and desserts; go for berries and veggies.

Up your fiber intake
Consumption of soluble fiber slows down the speed at which digested food is released into your gut. Know what this means? It means that just like with protein, you’ll stay fuller for longer. Beyond slowing down the process, soluble fiber suppresses hunger hormones and increases the production of satiating hormones, so you feel fuller and are less likely to feel hungry.

Don’t cut fat
Seems a little contradictory right. How can you eat fat to lose it?

First, fatty foods take longer for the body to break down than carbs do, so once again you don’t feel as hungry as you usually would. Second, special types of fats, known as MCTs (), are actually known to increase your metabolism, so that you burn calories faster. Third, your body can actually burn fat for energy rather than carbs. It’s actually the entire premise of the Ketogenic diet (try Lifesum’s keto plan!)

For your workout:

Shot of woman doing the downward-facing dog pose on the beach

Cardio! Getting your heart rate up is one of the keys for successful fat burn. Whether you chose a low-medium intensity run, to isolate fat; or you go for a high-intensity AMRAP Workout, cardio is the key to a trimmer waistline.

Trying to shift your belly fat? Try Lifesum’s Keto plan 

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams