6 Best Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat: It’s Time to Get up and Move 

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Best exercises to reduce belly fat
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Always dreaming that under all that belly fat is a six-pack waiting to show itself? We feel you. Are you determined to burn your belly fat and fit back into your best clothes again? Then, let’s get started. Here are the 6 best exercises to reduce belly fat and help you look and feel your best.

Contents:
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    What is Belly Fat?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Other Ways to Effectively Manage Belly Fat?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Belly Fat?

The fat accumulated around your abdomen is called belly fat. In general, having a healthy amount of fat in your belly insulates your organs and serves to protect your body from physical trauma. 

However, having an excess amount of belly fat can also lead to a higher risk of chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease.

There are two types of belly fat:

  • Subcutaneous fat: It is a soft kind of fat found under your skin, between the skin and muscles. It is generally considered harmless compared to visceral belly fat.
  • Visceral fat: It is located in the abdominal cavity and surrounds the internal organs like the liver, kidney, and pancreas. Visceral fat is hormonally active and in excess amounts, can pose severe health complications.

Myth: This Food or That Drink Can “Melt” Your Belly Fat!

Fact: A big NO! There is no magic diet for belly fat and no specific food or drink can help you “melt” belly fat. To lose belly fat, you need to lose weight. Eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are ways to maintain your weight and beat belly fat.

Many factors can affect your weight, including your genes, age, gender, and lifestyle. It is also evident that with age, people may lose their muscle mass, while fat increases in their bodies. This can be tackled effectively with a balanced diet and exercise. 

If you consume more calories through food than you burn by activity, you are likely to gain weight, which can settle prominently in your belly region as excess fat. You can manage this by consuming limited calories and burning the excess calories through proper exercise, which may help reduce the storage of calories in the form of fat. 

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Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat

If you want to lose belly fat, weight loss exercises are what you should opt for. To lose belly fat, you have to lose weight through exercise because targeted fat loss from a specific region of your body, also called spot reduction, is not possible. 

Muscle cells cannot directly utilise the fat contained in fat cells. Fat needs to be broken down before it can enter the bloodstream. Thus, the fat that your muscles use during exercise can come from any part of the body, and not just from the part being exercised. 

This is why sit-ups and crunches as exercises for belly fat reduction are not very effective. Sit-ups and crunches are not very effective for burning calories as well, so they may not be able to help with weight loss and belly fat reduction just on their own.

Exercises that involve your whole body, when done consistently, will speed up your metabolism and help burn calories and fat. Also, combining aerobic exercise and resistance training has been shown to be more effective for weight loss than either one of them alone. 

Exercise may help you manage your weight and reduce belly fat, but never overdo it in hopes of quick results. It takes time for your body to adapt from a sedentary lifestyle to being more physically active. And if you can avoid injury by starting slowly, you can be physically active on a regular basis. 

Start slow and gain the momentum you need to achieve your goal of losing weight and belly fat. If you have any health condition, consult your doctor prior to starting a new activity.

Let’s look at the contribution of each exercise to reducing belly fat.

Walking

If you are bored of going to gyms, brisk walking can be a fun way to burn your belly fat. It can also be an easy beginner belly fat exercise. Walking is a form of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Brisk walking increases your heart rate and breathing rate and helps your body pump more oxygen and blood to your muscles. This helps you burn fat and build muscle, both of which are important for weight loss. 

Since it is a low to moderate-intensity exercise, it is important that you walk for at least 30 to 45 minutes every day to lose weight. In the beginning, your body may burn the stored carbohydrates and eventually, with regular exercise, it will start burning the stored fat in your body.

Running

Runningis one of the best types of exercise for belly fat since it is one of the most effective ways to lose overall body weight. It involves different muscles working together with maximum potential to burn calories and help lose weight. 

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as running decreases appetite by changing the levels of hormones that control hunger. You can plan your diet in such a way that you consume fewer calories and try to burn more calories with physical activities such as running. 

You can initially start running for 30 minutes, 3 to 4 days a week. Make sure to warm up and stretch for 5 minutes before your workout. This improves blood circulation to the muscles and helps prepare your body for the run. Gradually decrease your speed of running in the last 5 minutes, and continue walking, which will help you to cool down.

Cycling

Cycling is a great way to keep your thigh muscles active and keep your heart pumping. It increases your heart rate and the blood flow to your muscles. An increased flow of oxygen to your muscles helps your body burn more calories and lose excess fat, thus, aiding in weight loss, including from the belly region. 

Cycling may initially make you feel tired and burnt out. However, over time, it helps in increasing your stamina and reducing fatigue. 

For weight loss and belly fat reduction, you can aim to cycle for at least 60 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Steady moderate cycling for 60 minutes helps you burn about 300 calories. By increasing your intensity, you can burn more calories within the same period of time. 

Squatting

Belly fat can be stubborn and hard to lose but not with squatting. Squats are an exercise that can simultaneously help you build muscle, burn calories, and strengthen your joints. There are several variations of squats, all of which target the muscles in your core, hips, thighs, and calves. 

Squats also strengthen your knees and ankles, which can help prevent joint injuries. Include at least 45 to 50 squats a day into your workout routine and combine it with aerobic exercise for a toned lower body, sustainable weight loss, and belly fat reduction.

Burpees

Burpees are effective exercises to reduce belly fat. A burpee is a bodyweight exercise that involves a squat, a push-up, and a stretch. It is a complex exercise that gives you the benefits of cardio and strength training. Burpees engage the muscles in your core, hips, thighs, calves, shoulders, and chest. 

Burpees may seem a bit daunting to beginners, but with enough practice, you can reap the benefits of this full-body workout. Start with 10 to 15 burpees a day, and slowly increase the number of reps as you progress in your fitness journey. 

High Knees

High knees can be very effective as a belly fat reduction exercise. A high knee is a high-energy move that gets your heart pumping and activates your lower body and core muscles.

High knees can be done as an aerobic exercise or as part of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to be effective in burning fat and building muscle. 

You should do a minimum of four sets of 50 high knees on each leg to burn calories. The higher you bring your knees, and the faster you do the step, the better the impact. Do not do high knees immediately after a meal or after drinking water.

What are the Other Ways to Effectively Manage Belly Fat?

Along with exercise, you can effectively manage belly fat by following a few tips.

1. Avoid sugary foods, soda, fruit juices, and energy drinks. Beverages and foods rich in sugar can increase your weight and thus belly fat. You can stick to drinking unsweetened tea/coffee and eating a diet rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetablesfruits, seeds, and nuts.

2. Limit your alcohol consumption. Drink in moderation as more than two drinks per day can lead to weight gain and increased belly fat.

3. Avoid fried foods that contain trans fat. Trans fat increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) and decreases high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) and may lead to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease.

4. Try to eat high-protein food items. Include chicken, egg, beans, lentils, etc in your diet. The protein in the food delays digestion and helps keep you full for longer. This prevents overeating and helps maintain your body weight.

5. Incorporate more fibre-rich food in your meals. Fibre can keep you satiated for a long time, prevent overeating, and help with losing weight. 

6. Manage your stress. The stress hormone cortisol may lead to an increase in belly fat. Practice yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques to lead a stress-free life with a healthy weight. 

7. Get adequate sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for your health. Many studies have linked inadequate sleep with weight gain, which may include an increase in abdominal fat.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • The fat accumulated around your abdomen is called belly fat. Some amount of belly fat is normal and necessary, but excessive belly fat is a sign of weight gain. Having an excess amount of belly fat can lead to an increased risk of chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease.
  • To lose belly fat, you need to lose weight. This can be managed with a balanced diet and exercise. Monitoring your calorie intake and burning more calories than you consume with physical activity can help prevent the storage of calories in the form of fat.
  • Exercises like walking, running, cycling, squatting, burpees, and high knees are known to reduce weight and thus belly fat effectively.
  • Along with exercise, you can effectively reduce belly fat by having a balanced diet which contains fewer carbohydrates, and more fibre and protein. Avoid having processed, fried or sugary food and limit alcohol intake. Manage your stress and get enough sleep.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading nutritionists and dieticians to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order healthy treats, weighing scales, fitness bands, and more! We also have a Weight Management Program which provides 360º care. Start your weight management journey with Phable. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Sit-ups can help tone your abdominal muscles but cannot burn belly fat. During sit-ups or any exercise, it is difficult to reduce fat from a specific area in the body as the muscle cells cannot directly utilise the fat contained in those cells. Once the stored calories are utilised from the muscle cells, then the body utilises the stored fat. Thus, this fat that your muscles use during exercise can come from any part of the body, and not just from the part being exercised.

Yes, walking can help with weight loss and thus belly fat reduction. Walking is a form of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Brisk walking can increase your heart rate and breathing rate and help your body pump more oxygen and blood to your muscles. This helps you burn fat and build muscle, both of which are important for weight loss and thus belly fat loss. 

The few first signs of weight loss are your clothes fitting better and your body measurements changing. You may notice that your muscles are more defined, you feel better in your body, and are not so tired all the time.

There are two stages for weight loss and thus belly fat reduction. In the first stage (4 to 6 weeks), you may observe rapid weight loss and change in physical appearance, which is due to the utilisation of stored up carbs, protein, and water from your body. In the second stage (beyond 6 weeks), the weight loss becomes slower as your body starts losing fat.

When you diet or exercise, there is a calorie deficit and your body utilises stored fat to produce energy. The released energy due to fat breakdown aids in the functioning of your body and in maintaining your body temperature. The byproducts of fat breakdown leave your body as water through sweat and urine and as carbon dioxide through your lungs. 

Walking, running, cycling, squatting, and high knees are some of the best exercises for overall weight loss and thus belly fat reduction.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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