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.
In my experience, most patients consider weight loss drugs or surgery only as a last resort. “I want to lose weight naturally,” they say. Once we screen for (and treat) any contributing medical problems that could be causing weight gain (low thyroid function, polycystic ovarian syndrome, prediabetes, among others), or psychological issues (bulimia, binge-eating disorder, depression, anxiety), I encourage a diet-and-lifestyle approach for many reasons, among them my own personal experience.
There’s a large spectrum of where people can fall on a vegetarian diet: For example, vegans consume no animal products, whereas ovo-lacto vegetarians eat both dairy and eggs. The eating style may help with weight loss, suggests a review published in August 2017 in Nutrients, but some vegans and vegetarians may become deficient in specific nutrients, such as calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, according to an article published in December 2017 in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. (23,24)
^ McMillan-Price, J.; Petocz, P.; Atkinson, F.; O'neill, K.; Samman, S.; Steinbeck, K.; Caterson, I.; Brand-Miller, Janette Cecile (2006). Written at Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. "Comparison of 4 Diets of Varying Glycemic Load on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in Overweight and Obese Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial" (PDF). Archives of Internal Medicine. USA (published 24 July 2006). 166 (14): 1466–75. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.14.1466. PMID 16864756.
This becomes even more complicated when you consider the variability of the foods we eat. A piece of grass-fed beef usually has less fat by weight than the same cut from a conventionally raised cow. If it has less fat by weight, it will have more protein. For the same 8-ounce piece of meat, it would have less fat and more protein, and fewer total calories. How much less? You can’t be sure, unless you actually test the meat. But then you wouldn’t be able to eat it, so you’d need to get another cut of beef that wouldn’t be exactly the same, so you wouldn’t know the calorie value of that piece of meat either.
Leah Campbell is a writer and editor living in Anchorage, Alaska. She’s a single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter. Leah is also the author of the book “Single Infertile Female” and has written extensively on the topics of infertility, adoption, and parenting. You can connect with Leah via Facebook, her website, and Twitter.
About: Shannon’s a fit girl, but her mission in life is to get even fitter — and motivate others to join her along the way. She’s also a full-time marketing executive, but her true passion is bringing together and inspiring them to reach their goals. You’ll find her posts are full of positivity, motivation, practical tips for exercising (without killing yourself) and even fun fashion bits. If the sun was shining through a blog, it would be shining through Shannon’s.
Let’s pause here for a moment. If you were truly going to gain an extra pound of fat by eating 3500 calories more than you burn, you’d only need to eat 116.66 calories per day more than you burn in a 30-day month to gain a pound of fat. That’s 38.88 calories per meal if you eat three meals per day. Even if you weighed and measured every bite of food you put in your mouth, you’d still never be able to manage your calorie intake accurately enough because the whole idea of the 3500 calories and the calorie value of the macronutrients are based on so many assumptions and rounding of numbers!
About: Mindy doesn’t just blog about weight loss, it’s actually her job to help people lose weight. She’s a busy, Washington, D.C.-based one-on-one weight loss coach, and (luckily for us), spends some of her spare time blogging about it too. Her blog is great in that it clearly comes from an experienced professional, but it’s also fun to read and features Mindy’s quirky personal touch, just what the doctor ordered for people as they work to drop those extra pounds.
What the diet guru says: According to David Zinczenko, author of The 8-hour Diet, eating all your meals within a set window is the key to burning fat. ‘By carving out an eight-hour window in which to eat to your heart's content, you'll burn your body's fat stores effortlessly. The science is actually simple: for several years, researchers have been producing remarkable weight loss results in people using "intermittent fasting". In this case, fasting is about eating whatever you want, but staying within a sensible eight-hour window. This gives your body the chance to burn away your fat stores for the energy it needs.’
I let myself indulge. But only on occasion, that way it feels special. Like a treat! You have to allow yourself a little indulgent – that’s what helped me ultimately change my relationship with food. It’s okay if you have a day where you go ham — it happens. Just get yourself back on track and stop feeling so guilty. One meal, one day does not make or break your body — doing it over and over will, though.
Justine McCabe’s weight loss transformation story began in early 2015 after her husband unexpectedly and tragically committed suicide. Weighing 313 pounds at the time, his death shook her awake and made her realize she had to make a lot of changes. By taking control of her health, she chose to live. Justine documented her weight loss transformation in 365 days of selfies and continues to share her journey on her blog where she has lost 126 pounds, and counting!
Monica Olivas is a holistic health coach and certified running coach. And as the blog name implies, she loves to run and eat! Running helped her shed 20 pounds, and she’s since competed in 50 half-marathons and 30 marathons. Run Eat Repeat has giveaways for runners, tips for improving distance, and all kinds of healthy, delicious recipe ideas to fuel your next run. Visit the blog.