We've covered this before, but it's still the question we see most often; how do you burn belly fat? How to burn lower belly fat? What are the best exercises to target lower belly fat? How can I lose my love handles? There are many variations of the question, but the answers are all actually pretty similar.
Here are the best ways to reduce belly fat - or any stubborn body fat - and likely improve your health in the process. (Spoiler: it takes hard work and a balanced approach; there are no "quick fixes" regardless of what you might hear.)
Adopt a truly well-rounded workout program: Let's be clear - you can't spot reduce fat. You can't spot reduce fat from anywhere on the body - this applies to arm fat, lower back fat, lower belly fat, thigh fat, etc. No matter where the fat is, you're not going to be able to direct the results of your expenditure or consumption towards any particular area of your body.
This, along with the abundance of overall health benefits, is a great reason to adopt a smart, well-rounded workout program that addresses all of the muscle groups in the body (upper, lower, and core) and includes strength training, various forms of cardio (particularly HIIT), and stretching/mobility workouts (typically weaved into our warm up and cool downs, these exercises are what allow you to keep working out safely).
The best workouts for losing belly fat tend to be the same kind that help develop and support a healthy, strong body; ditch the shortcuts and overly focused workouts and look at the whole picture - it's better for "results" and it's better for your wellbeing. Don't waste your time with hundreds of reps of core exercises. Core strength is important, but crunches and/or core exercises are among the slowest possible ways to burn belly fat, lose weight, or tone.
Eat for good health: A nutrient dense, plant-based diet is best for health, and it's also helpful for keeping your body lean. Enjoy a diet that is based around minimally processed, whole foods and your health and your waist will thank you. Related: Healthy Recipes + a sample healthy grocery shopping list & how to eat clean on a budget + the Fitness Blender Meal Plan
Cut out the junk: This seems redundant to the point above, but deserves a second mention. Heavily processed foods tend to be loaded with sodium (among with other items you may be better off without). Cutting out empty calorie foods - foods which provide caloric content but are low on nutrients - is a good way to get stubborn body fat to start responding to your diet and exercise habits. Additionally, reducing your sodium intake can be a way to encourage your body to let go of water retention or bloat, which may be contributing to the feeling of an overly soft midsection.
Drink lots of water: Many of us are chronically dehydrated. The amount of water each of us needs to drink for optimal health varies widely - even on an individual, daily basis - but a general rule of thumb is that your urine should be very light yellow or almost clear. Many things (vitamins, medication, health conditions, etc) can effect this, so it's always best to talk to your doctor about what might work best for your specific health.
Watch your posture: Stand up straight! Stand up nice and tall; keep your shoulders back, your core pulled tight and your head up. A lot of us spend a lot of time on the computer, which often leads to us rounding our shoulders and sort of caving in over ourselves. Be mindful of your posture and it can instantly improve the way your entire body looks - not to mention it's better for your health to try and avoid poor posture.
Don't undervalue rest and/or sleep: Some people can end up actually working too hard, sabotaging their own progress, maybe even making themselves more prone to sickness or injury. Make sure that you're taking at least 1-2 rest days each week and that your training sessions are not running too long. Related: Signs of Overtraining You should also try to make sure that you're getting enough sleep - try to get 7-8 hours a night.
Tame your stress levels: I know it's easier said than done, and I wince at even putting this on the list and making you feel like you're being lectured to, but I feel it hast to be said. There are a lot of things that we can't change in life, but we can adapt and handle them better. Carve out a little time for yourself in the day and try to fill it with something that you enjoy and that you find relaxing. Yoga, stretching, writing, reading, meditating - whatever it is, try to treat yourself to at least a little something that settles your mind when you're feeling really stressed out. Stress can wreak havoc on health - not just on appearance or the storing of fat - and it should not be taken lightly.
Keep your goals in check: You should be working out and eating healthily so that you can have a better life - it should not take over your entire life. Having six pack abs or a toned-looking stomach does not necessarily mean you're fit. Not all of us are meant to have low enough body fat to have an incredibly toned stomach - and some people may actually find that their health may begin to suffer if they get their body fat down that low. My main point is; fitness looks different on each of us; don't compare yourself to others, and don't ever put appearance related goals higher on the priority list than your health.
Why are so many people still confused about this? I would not doubt that a lot of it comes down to the large number of trainers and online influencers that are still perpetuating bad information. A lot of times it feels like misinformation is really much easier to come by than good information. Be a smart consumer, and make sure that you are not trusting your health to someone who knows very little about health/fitness/nutrition. Related: Top 10 Signs of a Bad Personal Trainer
Have you ever made changes in your diet and exercise habits that made a significant change in your body fat? What worked for you?