How to lose stomach fat post pregnancy is one of the most common questions I am asked. And of course it is something that 99% of women losing pregnancy weight have problems with.
Our tummy area is the area where the excess weight we gained in pregnancy can be the hardest to move and it is often the last place to go when we are losing pregnancy weight and it can be the part of a mums body which causes the most frustration.
So below I have broken all you need to know down and hope this gives you the best advice on how to lose stomach fat after the birth of your baby.
The facts on stomach fat
There are two types of fat which are found around your stomach area: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat (this means “under the skin”) is the fat you can see and grab, while visceral fat lies further inside your body and surrounds the vital organs in the stomach area.
Too much visceral fat is what forces the stomach outwards and is what leads to your stomach sticking out.
Although most of us are very self-conscious about the (subcutaneous) fat they can see, research shows that the visceral fat – in people of any size – could be the bigger threat to our health.
Why we gain fat around the stomach
- Pregnancy: We need the fat around our tummy for our skin to stretch and for the baby bump to be cushioned
- Hormones: The hormone oestrogen causes fat to be stored around the hips, bum and thighs. As oestrogen levels reduce during pregnancy, women also begin to store fat around their tummy to prepare for breastfeeding. You can read more about the oestrogen.
- Stress: When we experience chronic stress, the body produces a huge amount of the stress hormone – cortisol. Too much cortisol increase the storage of fat around the stomach area.
- Genetic makeup: Each person is programmed to store fat in different areas and amounts in the body – and some store the fat around the tummy area
- Eating habits: Diets high in junk and processed food are more likely to store as fat around the stomach. Also, consuming too much sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sugary drinks, energy drinks and alcohol, increases appetite, leading to over eating and weight gain around the stomach area.
How to lose stomach fat
- Breastfeed. Breastfeeding can really help you lose stomach fat as it can help your uterus go back to its normal size more quickly.
- Eat healthy foods. If you are filling your body with more and more fatty and processed foods each day you won’t see your stomach fat decrease. By eating a diet rich in protein, wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and nutrients then your body will function better and eliminate toxins and fat.
- Reduce your alcohol consumption. Alcohol, especially sweet fizzy based drinks and beer make it nearly impossible to lose stomach fat and puts extra stress on your liver to clear out the toxins. This extra pressure on your liver can make it very hard to build muscle which is key to losing belly fat.
- Exercise your whole body. Sadly there is no such thing as ‘fat spot reduction’ and we can’t tell our body to simply lose fat from a specific area i.e. the belly. The key is to exercise your whole body and as you do your body will seek out excess fat stores that will be used to fuel your exercise session.
- Strength Training. Spending hours doing cardio exercises will only get you so far when it comes losing belly fat. The real secret is to add a few strength-training exercises in to your routine. The most effective way to lose belly fat is to build lean muscle in its place. Muscle gets very hungry when exercised and the more you work them the more they seeks out fat stores all over your body to fuel it. Try and include major muscle group exercises into your routine to see your belly fat disappear – such as squats which work the bum and thighs.
- Keep yourself Motivated. If you want to lose stomach fat you will need to stay motivated for longer than a few days. We all have times when we want to give up, but it’s important to push though the hard times because the end goal is worth the effort. It’s important to keep track of your progress as this will remind you of how much you’ve achieved.
The best ways to burn body fat
1. Your muscles must be challenged during workouts
To burn fat, you need to push your body hard enough to create a stimulus for physical change and improvement. This does not mean you have to push yourself as hard as possible all the time, but you should feel like you have done something at the end of your workout and break out a sweat.
Action: Make your exercise challenging without being too difficult and always allow your body enough time to recover between workouts.
2. Work the larger muscle groups
Exercises that focus on the larger muscles burn more calories. Fat burning does not happen without calorie burning, so exercises that burn more calories are technically better fat burning exercises. For example, a push up uses a lot of upper body pushing muscles, especially the chest, shoulder, triceps and core. Compare that to a bicep curl, which is a popular upper body exercise but it only works the biceps. As a result, a challenging set of push ups burns many more calories than a challenging set of bicep curls and is therefore a better fat burning exercise. For a cardio example, you could compare regular walking to power walking. Both activities are similar, but power walking is more challenging and requires stronger contractions, so it works your leg muscles more than regular walking. Therefore, it is also more efficient at fat burning.
Action: Focus on exercises for your larger muscle groups for faster results, but keep things in perspective. Even though exercising large muscle groups are more efficient, it does not mean you should never perform exercises for smaller muscle groups. It is always important to work all your muscles equally to ensure balance within the body and prevent injuries.
3. Work the core
Strengthening your core is excellent for your overall body strength and posture.