exercise to lose weight

If your goal is to lose belly fat, you’re certainly not alone. For most people, not only is losing belly fat important for how they look and feel, but it’s also important for optimal health as belly fat is particularly harmful and has, for example, been linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, 1 high blood pressure, cancer, and dementia. 2 The question then is how much belly fat can you lose fast?

Is it possible to lose belly fat in a month?

Finding Your Starting Point

To find out if you need to focus on losing belly fat, you’ll want to start by assessing where you are right now. Perhaps the simplest way is to grab a tape measure and wrap it around the circumference of your waist. If you’re a man who measures over 40 inches or a woman who measures over 35 inches, you have what’s called abdominal obesity, and you are at a greater risk for health problems. 3

You can also use BMI (body mass index) to ensure you’re at a healthy level. If your BMI is over 30, you are considered obese. If it’s over 40, you are considered morbidly or extremely obese. 3 However, there are some drawbacks with this measurement as it doesn’t differentiate between lean mass and fat mass, and someone who is muscular may have a BMI indicating they’re overweight or obese when they are, in fact, quite lean. 4

In addition, there are two types of fat that reside around the abdomen: visceral, which surrounds the organs, and subcutaneous, which lies just under the skin. The most harmful type of belly fat is visceral fat as it can increase your risk of numerous diseases.

Even if you aren’t in the danger zone, you may want to say goodbye to your belly fat and shoot for a flat stomach or even six-pack abs. Is it possible to lose belly fat in a month? The answer is absolutely yes. That doesn’t, however, mean it’s easy.

How to Lose Belly Fat Fast

You can’t target your weight-loss results on specific body parts (spot training, for example, is impossible). In other words, doing thousands of crunches will do you less good than getting out for a brisk 30-minute daily walk or run. However, research has shown that there are ways to focus your efforts to lose belly fat, including:

  • Reducing sugar consumption, especially from sweet drinks like sodas and teas, which are detrimental to metabolic health. 5,6 You’ll also want to avoid drinking fruit juice and reach for whole fruit instead.
  • Avoiding unhealthy fats, especially trans fats, as found in fast foods, which can increase inflammation and lead to obesity.
  • Increasing protein consumption (to around 25 to 30 grams per meal), which can reduce cravings and appetite, boost metabolism, and help you eat fewer calories overall to lose weight 7 and belly fat. 8,9
  • Decreasing carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like sugar, white flour, and candies, to help you reduce appetite, lose weight, and lose belly fat. 10
  • Increasing fiber consumption, especially soluble fiber from vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole oats, which helps you feel full for longer and reduces appetite. 11
  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet that’s made up of mostly real, whole foods and a rainbow of vegetables and fruits
  • Drinking less alcohol, as it can not only increase the number of calories you’re consuming but also increase inflammation. 12

Additional Tips

  • Adding weight training and moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise like walking, running, and swimming to your routine to total at least four hours per week. 13,14 If possible, do at least some exercise in the morning before you eat breakfast.
  • Increasing your sleep quality to ensure you’re getting between seven and nine hours of quality sleep per night. 15
  • Decreasing stress as stress can negatively affect metabolic hormones.
  • Getting enough sunlight to produce enough vitamin D without getting sunburned. 16 Low levels of this vitamin are associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, excess weight, and belly fat. 2
  • Incorporating intermittent fasting as many people find it’s easier to follow than traditional dieting. Many people find the 16/8 method the most convenient as you fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window. For example, finish your last meal at 8:00 p.m. and don’t consume any calorie-containing foods or drinks until at least noon the following day. Then eat freely according to your hunger cues during your eight-hour feeding window. 17
  • Use a quality supplement that contains green tea extract, which has been shown to increase fat burning. 18

Remember, however, that if you want to lose belly fat, you’ll have to lose weight from your entire body. Yes, some of those pounds will come from the belly, but you’ll also be losing weight from the rest of your body. So even if you follow the above suggestions, you may be the type of person who loses more weight from your hips, thighs, or back than your belly. But with continued effort, you can slim down your entire body—including losing belly fat.

You’ll also want to set realist goals. How long did it take you to put on belly fat? Chances are pretty good that it’s been a lot longer than a month. So, it could take longer to reach your goals than you hope. Losing belly fat takes practice, persistence, and patience. Focus on progress rather than perfection and stick to your plan of healthier eating and more activity.

How Long Will It Take You to Lose Belly Fat?

While it seems like so little time, a lot can actually happen in a month. Thirty days may not be enough time to completely transform your body—especially if you are in that obese category. However, if you follow the tips above, you can start to build new, healthier habits, and you absolutely can start to lose body fat, including inches—yes, inches—around your waist while improving your strength and fitness.

According to research, people can safely lose between a half pound and two pounds per week, which can add up to two to eight pounds lost per month, six to 24 pounds in three months, and 12 to 48 pounds within six months. And many people find they lose weight even faster when they first begin, especially when they reduce carbohydrate consumption.

People often tout the fast results when switching to a low-carb diet—and people do lose pounds and often inches quickly on this type of diet. It should, however, be noted that a lot of these rapid effects (within the first week or two) are due to water loss rather than fat loss. So, you could see rapid weight loss, but that’s not the same as losing fat. That doesn’t make it any less motivating. Just understand that weight loss and fat loss are not necessarily the same thing. Weight loss can come from water and fat as well as potentially losing muscle or lean mass. Muscle, however, is vital to overall health, strength, a healthy metabolism, and longevity. To prevent muscle loss as you lose fat, it’s important to avoid dropping calories too low, ensuring you’re consuming enough protein, and exercising regularly.

More Facts on Losing Belly Fat

To burn off your belly fat and lose around a pound of fat per week, you’ll need to reduce the number of calories that come in as well as the number of calories that go out. One pound of fat has about 3,500 calories, so a good goal to shoot for is to burn an extra 500 calories per day. This can be easily achieved by eating fewer calories (not necessarily less food as increasing the amount of vegetables you eat can increase volume even as you eat less calories) and incorporating aerobic exercise into your daily life for between 30 and 60 minutes. For an even more efficient workout to burn fat fast, try a 20-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Adding strength training two to four days a week can also help both burn more calories and build more muscle, which burns calories not only while you’re doing it but throughout the day. Plus, the extra muscle helps burn calories even when you’re at rest.

You’ll also want to increase the amount of activity you do throughout the day. This is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT and can be increased by parking farther away and walking in, taking the stairs, standing and moving more during your workday, fidgeting, and finding ways to get more steps in each day.

While it’s also important to eat fewer calories, be careful to not drop calories too low as this can slow your metabolism as well as leading to negative side effects like intense hunger, low energy, depressed moods, hair loss, etc. Women shouldn’t eat less than around 1,200 calories a day, and men shouldn’t eat less than 1,800 calories per day.

Burning Belly Fat is Different For Everyone

Of course, everybody is different. You have different genetics, activity levels, food preferences, and more. Some people may notice less effects in belly fat within 30 days. Others will enjoy greater loss in belly fat. The key is to ensure you’re following a healthy lifestyle that works for you because losing belly fat only to regain it all again next month isn’t the goal. You want to shrink your belly fat now and then keep it off long into the future. And the only way to do that is to transform your lifestyle to exercise more, eat mostly real, whole foods (including more vegetables, protein, and fiber), and moving your body more throughout the day. But with a little effort and practice, the answer to the question “Is it Possible to Lose Belly Fat in a Month?” is absolutely yes!

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References:

  1. Fukuda T, Bouchi R, Takeuchi T, Nakano Y, Murakami M, Minami I, Izumiyama H, Hashimoto K, Yoshimoto T, Ogawa Y. Ratio of visceral‐to‐subcutaneous fat area predicts cardiovascular events in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Diabetes Investigation. 2018 Mar;9(2):396-402.
  2. Whitaker J. How to Lose Belly Fat How to Lose Belly Fat.
  3. Cetin D, Lessig BA, Nasr E. Comprehensive evaluation for obesity: Beyond body mass index. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016 Jun 1;116:376-82.
  4. Rothman KJ. BMI-related errors in the measurement of obesity. International Journal of Obesity. 2008 Aug;32(3):S56-9.
  5. Stanhope KL, Schwarz JM, Keim NL, Griffen SC, Bremer AA, Graham JL, Hatcher B, Cox CL, Dyachenko A, Zhang W, McGahan JP. Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2009 May 1;119(5):1322-34.
  6. Appelhans BM, Bleil ME, Waring ME, Schneider KL, Nackers LM, Busch AM, Whited MC, Pagoto SL. Beverages contribute extra calories to meals and daily energy intake in overweight and obese women. Physiology & Behavior. 2013 Oct 2;122:129-33.

Additional References

  1. Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A, Wycherley TP, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Luscombe-Marsh ND, Woods SC, Mattes RD. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 Jun 1;101(6):1320S-9S.
  2. Loenneke JP, Wilson JM, Manninen AH, Wray ME, Barnes JT, Pujol TJ. Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2012 Dec;9(1):5.
  3. Halkjær J, Tjønneland A, Thomsen BL, Overvad K, Sørensen TI. Intake of macronutrients as predictors of 5-y changes in waist circumference. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006 Oct 1;84(4):789-97.
  4. Gower BA, Goss AM. A lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet reduces abdominal and intermuscular fat and increases insulin sensitivity in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition. 2015 Jan 1;145(1):177S-83S.
  5. Hairston KG, Vitolins MZ, Norris JM, Anderson AM, Hanley AJ, Wagenknecht LE. Lifestyle factors and 5‐year abdominal fat accumulation in a minority cohort: The IRAS family study. Obesity. 2012 Feb;20(2):421-7.
  6. Traversy G, Chaput JP. Alcohol consumption and obesity: An update. Current Obesity Reports. 2015 Mar 1;4(1):122-30.
  7. Vissers D, Hens W, Taeymans J, Baeyens JP, Poortmans J, Van Gaal L. The effect of exercise on visceral adipose tissue in overweight adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS One. 2013;8(2).
  8. Hunter GR, Brock DW, Byrne NM, Chandler‐Laney PC, Del Corral P, Gower BA. Exercise training prevents regain of visceral fat for 1 year following weight loss. Obesity. 2010 Apr;18(4):690-5.
  9. St-Onge MP. The role of sleep duration in the regulation of energy balance: Effects on energy intakes and expenditure. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2013 Jan 15;9(01):73-80.
  10. Fleury N, Geldenhuys S, Gorman S. Sun exposure and its effects on human health: Mechanisms through which sun exposure could reduce the risk of developing obesity and cardiometabolic dysfunction. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016 Oct;13(10):999.
  11. Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: A review of human findings. Translational Research. 2014 Oct 1;164(4):302-11.
  12. Chantre P, Lairon D. Recent findings of green tea extract AR25 (Exolise) and its activity for the treatment of obesity. Phytomedicine. 2002 Jan 1;9(1):3-8.

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