How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Belly Fat? You want to lose belly fat fast and reach your desired weight, but you don’t want to starve yourself and end up having no energy. What you can do is to eat the right food and control your portions. You need to eat natural fats instead of the fatty foods that are found in the fast food restaurants. You should also avoid sugar and starch because they will only make you gain weight faster.
The Truth About Belly Fat
Surprise: Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs.
That’s normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat doesn’t.
Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.
It’s that deeper fat — called “visceral” fat — that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.
Even thin people can have too much belly fat. It’s more about how active you are than your pants size.
Deep Belly Fat
You need some visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs.
But if you hHow Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Belly Fatave too much of it, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
The fat doesn’t just sit there. It’s an active part of your body, making “lots of nasty substances,” says Kristen Hairston, MD, assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
If you gain too much weight, your body starts to store your fat in unusual places.
With increasing obesity, you have people whose regular areas to store fat are so full that the fat is deposited into the organs and around the heart, says Carol Shively, PhD, professor of pathology-comparative medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
How Much Belly Fat Do You Have?
The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there’s a much simpler, low-cost way to check.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you’re standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health’s sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you’re a woman and less than 40 inches if you’re a man.
Having a “pear shape” — bigger hips and thighs — is considered safer than an “apple shape,” which describes a wider waistline.
“What we’re really pointing to with the apple versus pear,” Hairston says, “is that, if you have more abdominal fat, it’s probably an indicator that you have more visceral fat.”
How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Belly Fat?
If you struggle with belly fat, it’s a good idea to shed the extra pounds. Weight accumulation around the midsection increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Eating healthier foods and cutting back on calories promotes belly fat loss. Eating the right foods will help you get the necessary nutrition without feeling hungry.
Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than your body needs. The excess energy is stored as fat, which causes belly fat. The amount of calories you need varies based on your gender, age and activity level. Women’s calorie needs are generally less than men’s. Women ages 19 to 30 need about 2,000 to 2,200 daily calories with moderate activity, according to the American Heart Association. Women ages 31 to 50 need about 2,000 daily calories. As you reach age 50, your calorie needs decline to 1,800 daily. To lose belly fat, reduce your calorie intake slightly below these levels, depending on your age. Once you reach your fat loss goal, resume the recommended calorie intake to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than your body needs.
- To lose belly fat, reduce your calorie intake slightly below these levels, depending on your age.
Maximizing Calorie Intake
Lose belly fat by selecting foods that are low calorie and leave you feeling satisfied. For example, fruits and vegetables such as melon, berries, apples, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower are good choices. Whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta are a few more choices. Select lean sources of protein, such as fresh water fish and chicken without the skin. Also, eat low-fat dairy sources, such as skim milk and cottage cheese.
- Lose belly fat by selecting foods that are low calorie and leave you feeling satisfied.
- Select lean sources of protein, such as fresh water fish and chicken without the skin.
Belly Fat Foods
When planning your calorie intake, also consume foods that promote midsection weight loss. For example, foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or flaxseed, improve your metabolism, according to “Fitness” magazine. Eat about an ounce of almonds daily. This food is high in magnesium, which aids in energy production and building lean muscle mass. Almonds also keep blood sugar levels stable, preventing overeating.
- When planning your calorie intake, also consume foods that promote midsection weight loss.
- For example, foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or flaxseed, improve your metabolism, according to “Fitness” magazine.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid high-calorie snack foods, such as cookies and chips. Also, avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. Select beverages such as water or unsweetened tea instead of soda and juice. Calories in high-sugar beverages add up significantly over the course of the week. When eating fats, stick to monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oil and avocados.
- Avoid high-calorie snack foods, such as cookies and chips.
8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life
Maintaining a trim midsection does more than make you look great—it can help you live longer. Larger waistlines are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Losing weight, especially belly fat, also improves blood vessel functioning and also improves sleep quality.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline; more importantly, it will help reduce the dangerous layer of visceral fat, a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see but that heightens health risks, says Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. , director of Clinical and Research Physiology at Johns Hopkins.
Here’s how to whittle down where it matters most.
- Try curbing carbs instead of fats. When Johns Hopkins researchers compared the effects on the heart of losing weight through a low-carbohydrate diet versus a low-fat diet for six months—each containing the same amount of calories—those on a low-carb diet lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet—28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds. An extra benefit of the low-carb diet is that it produced a higher quality of weight loss, Stewart says. With weight loss, fat is reduced, but there is also often a loss of lean tissue (muscle), which is not desirable. On both diets, there was a loss of about 2 to 3 pounds of good lean tissue along with the fat, which means that the fat loss percentage was much higher on the low-carb diet.
- Think eating plan, not diet. Ultimately, you need to pick a healthy eating plan you can stick to, Stewart says. The benefit of a low-carb approach is that it simply involves learning better food choices—no calorie-counting is necessary. In general, a low-carb way of eating shifts your intake away from problem foods—those high in carbs and sugar and without much fiber, like bread, bagels and sodas—and toward high-fiber or high-protein choices, like vegetables, beans and healthy meats.
- Keep moving. 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.The amount of exercise you need for weight loss depends on your goals. For most people, this can mean 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise nearly every day.
- Lift weights. Adding even moderate strength training to aerobic exercise helps build lean muscle mass, which causes you to burn more calories throughout the entire day, both at rest and during exercise.
- Become a label reader. Compare and contrast brands. Some yogurts, for example, boast that they’re low in fat, but they’re higher in carbs and added sugars than others, Stewart says. Foods like gravy, mayonnaise, sauces and salad dressings often contain high amounts of fat and lots of calories.
- Move away from processed foods. The ingredients in packaged goods and snack foods are often heavy on trans fats, added sugar and added salt or sodium—three things that make it difficult to lose weight.
- Focus on the way your clothes fit more than reading a scale. As you add muscle mass and lose fat, the reading on your bathroom scale may not change much, but your pants will be looser. That’s a better mark of progress. Measured around, your waistline should be less than 35 inches if you’re a woman or less than 40 inches if you’re a man to reduce heart and diabetes risks.
- Hang out with health-focused friends. Research shows that you’re more apt to eat better and exercise more if your friends and family are doing the same.
4 Steps for Beating Belly Fat
There are four keys to controlling belly fat: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management.
1. Exercise: Vigorous exercise trims all your fat, including visceral fat.
Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Walking counts, as long as it’s brisk enough that you work up a sweat and breathe harder, with your heart rate faster than usual.
To get the same results in half the time, step up your pace and get vigorous exercise — like jogging or walking. You’d need to do that for 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week.
Jog, if you’re already fit, or walk briskly at an incline on a treadmill if you’re not ready for jogging. Vigorous workouts on stationary bikes and elliptical or rowing machines are also effective, says Duke researcher Cris Slentz, PhD.
Moderate activity — raising your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week — also helps. It slows down how much visceral fat you gain. But to torch visceral fat, your workouts may need to be stepped up.
“Rake leaves, walk, garden, go to Zumba, play soccer with your kids. It doesn’t have to be in the gym,” Hairston says.
If you are not active now, it’s a good idea to check with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program.
2. Diet: There is no magic diet for belly fat. But when you lose weight on any diet, belly fat usually goes first.
Getting enough fiber can help. Hairston’s research shows that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day — without any other diet changes — build up less visceral fat over time than others. That’s as simple as eating two small apples, a cup of green peas, or a half-cup of pinto beans.
“Even if you kept everything else the same but switched to a higher-fiber bread, you might be able to better maintain your weight over time,” Hairston says.
3. Sleep: Getting the right amount of shut-eye helps. In one study, people who got 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night gained less visceral fat over 5 years compared to those who slept 5 or fewer hours per night or 8 or more hours per night. Sleep may not have been the only thing that mattered — but it was part of the picture.
4. Stress: Everyone has stress. How you handle it matters. The best things you can do include relaxing with friends and family, meditating, exercising to blow off steam, and getting counseling. That leaves you healthier and better prepared to make good choices for yourself.
“If you could only afford the time to do one of these things,” Shively says, “exercise probably has the most immediate benefits, because it gets at both obesity and stress.”