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.