Maybe you had a little too much summer fun or you enjoyed a few too many cocktails (repeatedly) during the dreary winter months. Or perhaps the belly has just been expanding over the past couple of years. Whatever the occasion or time-frame, you might find yourself looking to lose that beer belly right about now.
Three main components come into play when you decide to get rid of your beer belly: diet, exercise, and other fitness options. But, with a little extra work on your part and some adherence to a few simple rules, you can find your inner six-pack and learn how to get rid of a beer belly.
How to Get Rid of Your Beer Belly
Step 1: Diet
When it comes to getting rid of the fat around your belly, it’s (fortunately or unfortunately) the same method as getting rid of fat anywhere else on your body. First, you have to clean up your diet and be consistent with eating healthy foods for the long term.
Here are some pointers:
Monitor your caloric intake—remember, a pound of fat is equivalent to ~3,500 calories. So, to lose a pound of body fat, you need to burn off an extra 3,500 calories beyond what your body needs to maintain its current weight. You can accomplish this through dieting, exercising, or the best of both worlds, enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle consisting of nutritious foods, resistance training, and cardiovascular exercise.
Eat whole, natural foods—the less refined sugars, fats, chemicals, and preservatives you get from processed foods, the better. Why? Because your body has to use extra energy to process the bad stuff and excrete it as waste. Plus, processed foods with high fats, refined sugars, and simple carbs will give you a sugar high and then a big crash, leaving you lethargic, so you have less energy to move more.
Studies also show that processed foods can alter the microbes in your gut, making it more difficult to digest foods and assimilate nutrients. This also affects your immune system and can leave you with chronic inflammation along with low energy levels.
Instead, opt for fresh, whole, natural foods, and whenever possible, choose organic or even raw. This will help keep your immune system running at its peak and let your body focus on losing the body fat instead of getting rid of the toxins.
Don’t eat foods that make you bloat—this may seem obvious, but even healthy foods can leave you feeling bloated. For example, certain vegetables like onions, cauliflower, and broccoli (especially when eaten raw) can cause you to bloat. Other culprits include wheat, milk-based foods, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages.
Stay hydrated—interestingly, when your body gets plenty of water, it releases excess water easily. Conversely, when you’re dehydrated, your body will hoard water and cause you to look and feel bloated.
Step 2: Exercise
Targeting the abdominals with some resistance training will help you get rid of your beer belly too. Not only does weightlifting burn lots of calories, but it helps you build muscle, which burns extra calories 24/7.
Which exercises tone up the abs? Well, it turns out that weightlifting, in general, helps bring out that six-pack because you have to use your core to stabilize yourself during most movements. That said, there are still some exercises you can do to directly target the abs and help you get rid of that beer belly.
1. Plank—this might be the overall most effective abdominal exercise ever created. Start on all fours on a mat. Get down onto your elbows so your forearms are on the ground with your elbows lined up underneath your shoulders. Kick your feet out behind you so your legs are straight and you’re up on your toes. Keep your back straight (your butt in line with the rest of your body) and maintain this position for 30 seconds. Try to build up to longer and longer holds over time. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
2. Mountain Climbers—these will torch your core. Start with your arms straight and your palms on the floor, directly under your shoulders. Your legs should be straight out behind you and start up on your toes. Bring your right knee up to your chest quickly and then back down to the starting position. Next, bring your left knee up to your chest quickly and then back down to the starting position. Continue to alternate quickly in this fashion for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
3. V-Ups—these will tire you out in no time. Start by lying on the ground with your legs straight and your arms straight along your sides. Simultaneously lift your straight legs, straight arms, and upper body into the air until your body forms a V shape. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions and repeat the set 3 times.
As V-ups are such a challenging exercise, as your abs are getting stronger, you can also choose to do the exercise with bent knees.
4. Stability Ball Crunches—grab a large, well-inflated stability ball and sit on the edge of it. Place your hands lightly behind your head and lean back until your mid-back is touching the ball. Your feet can be up against a wall or surface or flat on the floor. Using your abdominals, bring your torso up and forward into a crunch. Squeeze hard at the top of the movement and then return to the start. Repeat 15 times. Do 3 sets.
5. Standing Russian Barbell Twist—stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Grab a barbell and place one end of it on the floor about a foot in front of your feet. Grab the other end with both hands and rotate it to the right, keeping your body facing forward and bracing with your core. Stop and rotate the barbell in front of your body and all the way over to the left. Repeat the sequence 5 times on each side. Do 3 sets.
Step 3: Lifestyle
Get your hormones checked—maybe, just maybe, your beer belly really isn’t about diet, exercise, or beer. Instead, it could be that your hormones are out of whack. When hormones aren’t at normal levels, it can cause your body to store fat and even to store it in places it normally wouldn’t, like your belly. Once you get your hormone levels optimized, you may find that belly fat is easier to shed.
Manage your stress—when you get stressed out, your body releases hormones to help combat that stress. But, there is a downside to this great system. The stress hormone cortisol also allows your body to store fat more easily. Keeping cortisol levels down can go a long way toward helping your body lose fat, let go of water, and have the energy to fight fat, not stress.
Keep doing your cardio—bottom line is that cardio burns calories. To lose body fat, you’ll have to be in a caloric deficit most of the time, so don’t skimp on those aerobic sessions. Coupled with your resistance training and smart dieting, you have a solid formula for losing that keg and replacing it with a six-pack.