The Truth and Tips on Losing Belly Fat

Woman Hands Make Heart Shape On Stomach
One of the most common reader questions that we get here at Fit Bottomed Mamas is “How do I get rid of my belly fat postpartum?” Today, Sara Dean is coming to the rescue! Sara is a fitness pro and runs Fit Healthy Moms, so she knows a thing or two about getting moms back into fighting shape. Read on for her tips — she takes the mystery out of how to get rid of excess belly fat! 

One of my favorite stories about baby belly fat (oddly, I have many stories about baby belly fat…) comes from an encounter a few years ago. A 31-year-old mom came in to meet with me about joining my boot camp. She sheepishly said to me, “I really need to lose my baby weight. My stomach is so jiggly. I’m just sick of it.” I replied with, “Congratulations, how old is your baby?” She looked down, obviously uncomfortable. “9…years…old.”

That’s when it happened. My personal-training mission, which had been all about getting average people in awesome shape, took a turn. I had a new mission. Save mamas from their own bellies.

The reason this is such a passionate topic for me is because of all the misinformation out there. Every mom I work with says she’s tried multiple tricks and tactics to shed her baby belly. When I ask about said “tricks” and “tactics,” I’m shocked by the misinformation so many moms have picked up along their weight-loss journeys. Shockingly, some of it even comes from doctors.

I’m here to tell you to breathe a sigh of relief. I’m here to give you the answers. You can stop guessing when it comes to diets (low-fat vs. low-carb vs. low-sugar vs. low-glycemic vs. paleo, huh?!) and exercise (elliptical vs. running vs. yoga vs. free weights?).

5 Truths on Losing Belly Fat

1. The food you put in your mouth. I wish I could tell you to eat cheese and bread and sip wine all day. Really, I do, because I would love to join you in that! But here’s the truth: the size of your belly—large, small, flat, bloated—is 80 percent determined by the food you put in your mouth. Therefore, you have no choice but to choose wisely. I don’t recommend crazy diets. I don’t recommend meal plans where you have to eliminate a whole food group.

My moms get flat belly results by focusing on clean eating 80 percent of the time. That means a diet consisting primarily of lean proteins, fruits and veggies—REAL FOOD—not processed and packaged “food.” There may be a few whole grains in there, too (we’ll get to that in a minute). The other 20 percent of the time, you can indulge a bit. A bit. It’s important to note that 20 percent of the time equals two cheat meals a week, not two cheat days a week , a very important distinction.

2. Water and hydration. If you’re a “normal” mom, you run around all day without giving a second thought to how much water you are drinking. If I told you that even slight dehydration can slow down your metabolism by 3 percent, would you drink more water? Yes, dehydration slows your metabolism! Water is essential for other reasons, too. It helps you shed bloat (yes, the mush in your belly after you eat salty or processed food). It also keeps you full, so you’re way less likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks/treats mid-day. In fact moms who fall off the water wagon (I know, it happens) notice their appetite increases immediately. The scale also stops dropping.

You should be consuming half your body weight in water every day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should have 75 ounces of water a day. Initially, yes, you will pee. A lot. It’s okay. It gets better and your belly gets flatter, so it’s happy peeing.

3. Learn the truth about grains. Like I said, you don’t need to eliminate entire food groups to lose belly fat. But there is one that could be greatly reduced—grains. Our dependence on grains is out of convenience and comfort. They are really not necessary. That said, I know many people really, truly enjoy grains. My mamas who see the most loss of belly fat are the ones who reduce their grain intake and choose their grains very carefully.

Switching to whole wheat is not enough. Whole wheat is not necessarily good for you. Yes, it has a bit more nutrition than white grains, but it still causes water retention and inflammation for most people. I recommend slowly, over time, switching over to Volume Eating, which is low-grain way of eating that provides you with plenty of carbs. This is one of the fastest ways to lose belly fat.

4. Do the right kind of cardio. When it comes to burning belly fat, there is the right cardio and then all other cardio. The right cardio is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is where you have spurts of high intensity (lasting from 10 seconds to 3 minutes) followed by a rest phase (typically lasting from 10 seconds to a minute, but sometimes longer). This kind of cardio can be done in 20 to 30 minutes and it stimulates your metabolism so that you are burning more calories for the next 24 to 48 hours. This kind of cardio is also the only kind of cardio proven to reduce belly fat. For moms who do a lot of steady-state cardio (30 to 60 minutes of medium-intensity cardio) this means you can switch to less cardio and burn more calories. Genius! Here is one of my favorite HIIT workouts for burning belly fat.

5. Lift. This is probably the most commonly missed gem in women’s weight-loss. Strength training, even if it’s just your own body weight, is essential for burning fat. The most effective way to burn more fat at rest is to build more lean muscle mass on your body. I don’t mean huge freaky muscles, just some nice lean muscle. This can be acquired through lifting weight two to three times a week. Oh, and don’t be a sissy; lift HEAVY. Please. Light dumbbells are a waste of your time, completely.

That said, be smart. I don’t want you to get hurt. So, 5- to 8-pound dumbbells may be a great starting point, but once you can do more than 10 to 12 reps on an exercise, BUMP UP THAT WEIGHT, SISTER! It will make you stronger and leaner, not beefier. You have my word. If you are scared of bulking vs. toning, watch this video.

If you take just a couple of these tips and put them into action with some consistency, you will see a change in your belly. If you put them all into action, you are a rock star mama, and you will see results quickly. These are some of the top tactics we use in our 6 Week Pregnancy Weight Loss. The moms who complete this program lose 10 to 23 pounds and up to 6 inches of belly fat in six weeks. So, you can see these are powerful tactics to help any mom become a hot, flat-bellied mama!

Sara Dean is the founder of Fit Healthy Moms, an international online community. Sara’s passion is helping moms lose baby weight and burn baby belly fat. Sara launched Fit Healthy Moms to provide moms with the necessary information about postpartum weight-loss. Moms all over the world are currently using her downloadable postpartum weight loss program, 6 Week Pregnancy Weight Loss.

Comments

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

28 Comments

  1. Wow! Such a great post. This will really help people who wants to have a sexy body. Thanks for sharing this to us and keep posting!

  2. Learn to pay attention to your body’s posture and alignment feet, navel, ribs and shoulders when walking can help you solve this problem is to decrease your overall body fat. Plus, you’re
    more likely to gain body fat, and inhibit fat accumulation in
    2, 343 men and women. Also, it might be worth teaming a balanced
    diet and daily exercise will reverse these symptoms.

  3. Sorry, but lots of studies show that the idea that increased muscle mass in women burns more calories or changes your metabolism is a total myth. They found that like 4 pounds more muscle mass burned a tiny bit of extra calories. Weight lifting is great for you, but that’s not why…and I wouldn’t take health advice from anyone who trots out tired old advice like that.

  4. ” 80 percent determined by the food you put in your mouth” this is really true. No matter who hard you trainings are, you cannot achieve flat stomach is you do not look after what you eat. I didn’t used to care about my diet, and I didn’t see any good results. Nowadays, as you suggest, I eat as less processed food as possible I got rid of the “usual” foods such as bread, soda etc. I’m not only feel myself better, but I’ve lost a lot weight. Great article!

  5. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis.

    It will always be helpful to read content from other authors and use a little something from
    other websites.

  6. Great thoughts— I am still waiting for the trainer who writes a piece on things that affect postpartum moms BESIDES food and diet. Don’t get me wrong, your writing is kind and well intentioned but it took me very strict, whole food intake, working with a postpartum trainer twice a week, doing yoga twice a week and then walking, running, or cross training on the off days before I realized that THIS WASN’T WORKING…and how was that possible because I was so doing everything right!?!
    When all that is spoken about is diet and exercise, it makes moms who DO that (I know there are many who do not, and really need some encouraging reminders of the basics!) and who do not loose weight feel even worse about themselves.
    There is SOOOOOO much more involved in the physiology of a postpartum (meaning the two years after giving birth and longer for those who breastfeed for longer) woman. Estrogen dominance, intake of xenoestrogen (found in many “healthy” food options, not to mention non organic produce and meat as well as a million other sources), hormonal imbalance that is or affects Serotonin production directly related to weight gain and loss- and the HUGE factor that pretty much every postpartum mom suffers from due to being physically and emotionally taxed, Adrenal Fatigue. These things are all very real and also very rarely addressed by trainers or even doctors. In my case, after extensive research, I started to lose weight after I stopped working out hard- I was over-working my already work out adrenals! I still walk a lot, eat whole and fermented foods, do yoga, and some weight training but realistically, for many (unfortunately many more than are given the credit) we need more assessment (I finally got a dr. who listened to me and had me undergo adrenal and hormonal tests) and THEN we can tell them how to loose the belly fat! I know this article was written for the masses, and it was written well. I just wish us mamas (especially those of us really interested in fitness and healthy whole eating) would support one another by going a step farther and delving into the research that has been done on these issues. As it turns out, one mom’s diet and exercise routine might work wonders for them while for another is a recipe for more weight gain and deeper exhaustion.

  7. I agree, this was a really good, informative post. I especially agree with points #4 and 5. Simply pair your lifting + HIIT with *sensible* changes to your diet and lifestyle and you’ll have great, lasting weight loss results. That’s the basis of any truly successful weight loss strategy. In fact, check out the following article that does a fantastic job of explaining the key factors in an effective, long-term weight loss plan: fatfreeme.net/big5

  8. I am a 75 yr. old great grandma and I go to water aerobics 4 times a week, but still cannot get rid of my belly fat. I need
    good menus to start eating right and start lifting weight. Thanks for the article. I found it very informative.

  9. There was just a study out out that intense interval training is the LEAST effective for belly fat.!!

  10. I can identify with the mom who did everything right and still could not lose the weight. After my first baby was about a year and a half, I tried the low carb thing but I was always hungry and never lost anything. so I stopped that, tried to just eat moderately and healthy, and was running 3-5 miles 3 times per week and weight lifting, and could not seem to lose an ounce of belly fat or any pounds. I was getting more and more frustrated. I was injuring my ankles from all the running. Finally, I said forget this, I’m just going to walk. I dropped five pounds that week and kept losing it, including belly fat. A brisk walk, 40 minutes every other day, and on the off days I would do about ten minutes a day with five pound weights, combining it with squats. I remembered this trick when I had my second baby, and I also added lots of healthy fats and nuts to my diet. I lost 35 pounds in 4 months and was very lean and had good muscle tone. I had my third baby almost 18 months ago and so far I’ve not been able to start a regular exercise routine; I am just beginning. My struggle this time is to stay consistent between being a mom of 3 boys and working an unpredictable high stress job. I also find that on the days where I splurge and eat a small piece of candy or a handful of chips, I then binge all day. I am suddenly incredibly hungry, with no self control. On the days where I make sure to pack healthy food with me, including homemade olive oil dressing and salad, I have better control over giving in to that piece of candy (which turns into several, which turns into incessant snacking until I go to bed). I often wonder if it has anything to with blood sugar levels. The other thing it could be is that there is high fructose corn syrup in many desserts, which is very addictive and I believe truly messes up your body and your metabolism. I am starting to keep a small jar of raw honey at my desk at work, and I take a spoonful of this when I am craving sweets. So far, it seems to be doing the trick to alleviate those cravings and prevent me from overeating snacks and desserts.

  11. I agree with A. I have also been putting in 2 hour sessions every single day for over 2 years now. An hour for cardio and one hour for weights and stretching and other pliometric? Exercises…. My arms are much larger, debts and biceps are muscular looking ….thighs are also larger….also muscle. Still have the jiggly fat 17 yrs on since childbirth!!! I have always worked out but perhaps never watched my food. However, despite watching carefully my food intake, I am extremely well toned EXCEPT my abdominal pooch is still there! Turns out I am hypothyroid, but not taking medication, severely iron deficient and some other issues. Still, not an excuse so I put in my 2 hours and enjoy the workouts… Don’t care most times until I see a stick thin woman eat perhaps entire animals at a sitting, which unfortunately all women in my part of the world look like!! Worse is when they tell me I should eat less to lose my pooch! An important point to note is also that really short torsoed women like myself cannot ever put on even a minute amount or it shows! Squishing in a stomach and intestines into a smaller area does not allow for any, however minute, bit of fat. As a mom with 2 daughters, one of whom eats well and is supermodel thin with a fantastic figure to match and another who eats super carefully but is cursed with my body type, I think it is disheartening to read and feel that the flat ab can be achieved and the general assumption is that you are not trying hard enough if you don’t!

  12. Can this advice be promoted to younger seniors? I’m just 65 and have noticed the fat ratio in my body is much larger. Plus I seem to be hungry ALL the time! I eat very little dairy (drink Organic almond milk), have a protein shake in the morning and eat lightly throughout the day. No processed food at all. I know I’m not drinking 70 oz. Of water a day. I do wall push ups when it’s raining here (Florida) and we get a lot of rain these days! HELP!!!!

  13. Thanks for your nice post. You are completely right there. Depending only on cardio type exercise is not a good Idea if one wants to lose fat. I tried that and failed.
    Cardio not only reduce fat but also lean muscles. Lean muscles are important to increase metabolism. Which consequently results higher calorie burning.
    In my beginning stage, I used to do only cardio for a long time. Progression was very slow. Later when I start lifting with cardio I got the desired results. Mixing up these two types of workout is the best way to fight with extra weights.
    Also, HIIT is the best cardio type workout that has real quick impact on fats. 🙂

  14. I am 30 years old (will be 31 in just a couple months) and have my first child, a beautiful baby girl who will soon be 8 months old. I am at my max weight and am nit happy with myself. I do not expect to be my skinny self before baby but I want to feel better about myself, confident and happy with myself now. I would like to lose 15 pounds. I never had an issue with belly weight (a pouch but just a little one) until now. Between my belly and my fat *** I am not feeling too great about myself and want my daughter to learn to love herself by example and live a healthy lifestyle. I read your information and now I need to fit it into my life and get results that I am happy with. What workouts/exercises do I do? What are good meal ideas and healthy food choices that I can buy in my local grocery store? I am a single Mom with very little time for myself and sadly, eat what I can, when I can. If you have any advice, inspirational quotes/sayings, facts about women after having a baby and how we are different than pre-baby, anything to help me get started.. I would really appreciate it. Thanks!

  15. Such an important fact about doing the right cardio. I tell my friends that all the time and they just laugh at me. I do HIT for 10 minutes and sweat more than my friends who go on the bike for 45 min, haha.

  16. Not really a comment as much as looking for further advice. So, I have been doing all of what you said for 10 years. I’ve been a workout-aholic for even longer but didn’t start to eat super well until 10 years ago. After baby two, who is 17 months, by body decided it just wants to be fat. I’ve never had this before! I think this is when surgery is the only option?

  17. Great tips! And I definitely concur as a fellow “fit bottomed mama” that has gone through the belly fat battle multiple times throughout my life – both from pregnancy and simply from letting myself go for periods of time. Thank you.