If you’re reading this post, you probably have some flab–a little extra around the waist, or perhaps too much hanging around the arms. Excess fat and skin, or more affectionately called “flab” can be a source of embarrassment and make you want to wear baggy clothing, or even worse, cause your confidence to drop.
Never fear! All hope is not lost.
Today we’ll explore some effective ways to lose the belly fat and tone up the underarms. It won’t necessarily be easy or quick–there is no silver bullet or magic pill. It will take some work, but it is possible.
As always, the first place to start is with what you’re eating. Experiential evidence increasingly demonstrates a real food or whole food diet is by far superior to a low-fat diet or the standard American diet when it comes to weight control and health outcomes. What this includes is fresh and lightly cooked vegetables (potatoes are not a vegetable), meat (but not processed meats like sandwich or deli meats), legumes, starchy tubers and squash, fruit, healthy naturally-occurring fats, and occasional non-gluten grains. A real food diet does not include packaged foods, additives, food-like products, preservatives, wheat, sugar, etc.
The bulk (pun intended) of the diet should come from vegetables, balanced with healthy fats, and proteins. Particularly in the case of reducing belly fat, the goal is to reduce carbohydrate consumption below 100g per day, and ideally below 50g per day. The source of those carbohydrates should primarily be vegetables, squash or starchy tubers, and minimal fruit. Fruit and vegetable juicing doesn’t cut it (literally, it won’t cut through the flab). I can’t emphasize this enough, to get rid of belly flab, you must reduce carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates from refined (or fiber-less) sources gets converted very quickly to glucose, which causes an insulin secretion, and since the body can’t use that much glucose at once that sugar gets converted to and stored as belly fat.
While I hate to talk about calories in versus calories out because I believe once you’re eating real food and exercising, your calories consumption will naturally come under control, it is necessary to mention. Even with a real food diet, if you’re eating excess amount of calories for your activity levels, you’re not going to be cutting much weight. In order to lose belly or arm flab, you have to start by dropping some weight. That weight comes off when you ditch the sugar, the grains, the processed and packaged food, and the calorie rich drinks, when you reduce carbohydrate consumption, and you get calorie intake down.
To summarize: 1. Eat real food–this will make everything else easier. 2. Get calories under control–this is where weight loss starts. 3. Reduce carbohydrate consumption–this is the first step to losing belly fat.
There are two types of exercise to use to reduce flab–one is slimming, the other is toning. But first, let me say, there is no such thing as spot-reducing when it comes to losing flab. You can tighten up in certain places (to a certain extent) or you can lose fat all over, but you can’t target certain body parts for fat loss (much to my chagrin). :/
So, the slimming exercise: it does not involve long runs, hours on the elliptical, or extensive walks. But it does involve some intensity. What I’m talking about is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Study after study proves this is the fastest, most efficient way to not only improve cardiovascular capacity, but to burn fat with exercise. You will work out very intense for as short as 10-20 seconds or up to a minute, then rest for some duration. The cycle repeats: intense activity, followed by rest, for between 15-30 minutes.
To do HIIT training, look up Tabata for timing, steal some of Shaun T’s moves, and download the app “Interval Timer.” You can burn fat for free in the privacy, comfort, and convenience of your own home. Bam! (Here’s a secret, if I’m doing interval sprints at 100%, my entire workout may last less than 8 minutes! So that’s another, even more efficient option if you can sprint.)
Next, the toning exercise. While I think you’ll be happy with your results if you do HIIT 2-4 times per week, you might need to focus in on your specific flab areas, and that’s where strength training is useful–because it tones and tightens everything in that area. Strength training can be done purely using body weight exercises–think planks, push-ups, wall-sits, squats, lunges, tricep dips, bear crawls, etc. Or it can be done using free weights. I recommend against machines because you’ll get a lot more efficient results if you use dumbbells or barbells than if you use machines.
With free weights your own body provides the stabilizing and controlling force, meaning more muscles are at work. By contrast, machines take all that away causing bulkiness in targeted areas, instead of all over toning. So, to tone up the belly flab, planks are where its at: high plank, forearm plank, side plank, reverse plank. Squats can also be useful, too, because you need to hold your belly in tight to stabilize your torso. For arms, think push-ups, tricep dips, and planks.
So far, we’ve got the nutrition and HIIT helping us lose fat, and the strength training to tone and shape our former flabby areas, now the final component: stress reduction. Here’s a dirty little secret you probably don’t want to hear–even with reducing the carbohydrates and doing all the HIIT exercises, if you’re stressed out, you probably still have a spare tire hanging around the middle. Stress will keep that belly fat on no matter how well you do on the other stuff. Here’s how that happens: when you get stressed, your body secretes adrenaline and cortisol, which causes the body to release glucose from the muscles and liver. The pancreas reacts by secreting insulin, which goes to work putting that glucose back into belly fat stores.
In order to lose the last bit of belly flab and have truly lean, defined abs, you must get better at managing stress. Better yet, avoid stressful thoughts and situations altogether. Make sure you get enough sleep. Try meditation, yoga, walking, deep breathing, enjoying a cup of tea, and anything else that helps you calm down.
Those are absolutely the fundamentals to getting rid of flab. It is a bit more nuanced than the oft-repeated “eat less, exercise more.” I will add one more tool that will make all of this easier: Belight Tea. Recently a loyal customer sent me an email,
“I can always see a difference when I don’t drink Belight for a few days… especially around my middle. It helps me keep on track.”
So there you go, Belight Tea can help with the belly flab and making the right nutrition choices.
Leave a comment below and let us know if you’ve used this approach to reduce flab, and what has worked best for you.