How to lose inches off your waist
Losing fat from your waist will require a combination of a good diet and an effective exercise plan.
Fat in the abdominal area, also known as belly fat, can be very harmful to your health and you should aim to get rid of it.
Much of this fat is visceral fat, which is different from subcutaneous fat, the type found underneath the surface of your skin. Visceral fat is found much deeper beneath the skin and is wrapped around major organs, including the kidneys, pancreas and liver.
A large waist and protruding belly indicate that you are storing visceral fat. A waist measurement larger than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is known as abdominal obesity, and this can have a negative impact on ones health.
Fat is generally stored all around your body and it is impossible to target one specific location to get rid of it (also known as spot reduction). However as you begin to lose fat from your body, you will notice that your waist is getting narrower.
In this article, I would like to share some tips to do this as effectively as possible.
Stay in a calorie deficit
Calorie requirements vary from person to person and are dependent on age, gender, height, weight and activity levels. You can estimate your calorie requirements using the calculator below:
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 30 year old lady who weighs 85 kg, is 150 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week will require approximately 2300 calories to maintain her weight, 1800 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight fast.
Consuming fewer calories than what you normally burn is known as a calorie deficit and this forces your body to use its fat stores as a source of energy.
The larger the deficit, the faster your rate of weight loss will be. It is important to note however that you need to consume a minimum amount of calories in order to remain healthy. Consuming too few calories can bring about problems of its own.
So how do you create a healthy calorie deficit? Here are a few ways that you can begin to do so:
Replace sugary drinks with water
A lot of people don’t realise it, but sugar-sweetened beverages tend to be very high in calories. This includes sodas, fruit juices and store bought coffees. A can of cola has roughly 140 calories. Water on the other hand has 0.
The calories that you get from these beverages are also considered to be ’empty’, because they provide you with very little nutritional value and only high amounts of sugar. Much of this sugar is in the form of fructose, and studies have shown that consuming excessive amounts can lead to the increased accumulation of belly fat.
Also, liquid calories are not registered as well by the brain as those from solid food. What this means is that eating solid food will make you feel more full than if you were to get the same number of calories from a sugary drink. Because the liquid calories aren’t registered well, they can lead to overeating.
Simply cutting down on the number of sweetened beverages that you drink and replacing them for water can have a huge effect on your waist. If you swapped a daily can of cola with water, you would consume 4000+ fewer calories in a month, which equates to a significant amount of fat. Numerous studies have shown that increasing water intake helps with weight loss.
Eat more protein & fiber and fewer refined carbohydrates
Protein keeps you filling full for long and studies have shown that increasing its intake assists with weight loss. This is because it reduces cravings and calorie consumption, whilst boosting metabolism slightly.
For example, this study found that increasing protein intake to 30% of total calories resulted in up to 441 fewer calories being consumed per day. This study found that quality protein intake is inversely related to abdominal fat. And another study also had similar results.
It is suggested that you aim for your total protein intake to be 25 – 30% of total calories. Foods that have high quality protein include eggs, legumes, seafood and meat. If you aren’t able to get enough protein from food, you can use supplements such as whey or hemp protein powders to increase your overall intake.
Fiber also helps with weight loss. For example, this study found that 14 extra grams of fiber per day was associated with a 10% decrease in calorie intake, and weight loss of 1.9 kg over 3.8 months. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains.
At the same time, you should reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars, as they have been positively associated with weight gain and belly fat. This means cutting down on white rice, pasta & bread and other processed foods. Also aim to replace unhealthy snacks like cakes and candy for healthier options such as avocados and Greek yogurt. Numerous studies such as this and this have shown that reducing carb intake is an effective way to lose weight.
To summarize, you should eat plenty of fresh vegetables & fruits, enough high quality protein and healthy fats (e.g. avocados, fatty fish and nuts) whilst cutting back on refined carbs. Also try to cook with coconut oil; studies have found that it can help to reduce belly fat slightly.
Use a calorie monitoring tool
It isn’t always easy to estimate the number of calories that we are eating. This is because foods vary greatly in the number of calories that they have. For example, 1 cup of almonds has 529 calories, whereas 1 cup of spinach has only 7!
Granted, the almonds will fill you up much more than the spinach, but using your stomach as the judge for calorie intake is not always the most accurate option.
Luckily, there are lots of quick ways to calculate your daily calorie intake. A favourite method of mine is to use the app myfitnesspal.
The app has a huge database of foods from which it can extract information. All you have to do is enter all of the food that you have eaten throughout the day and it will tell you how many calories you have consumed.
Once you have done this three or four times, you will get a rough idea of the type and amount of food you should be eating, in order to stay in a calorie deficit.
Exercise more often
The second part of the puzzle is to exercise more often. However this doesn’t mean that you should only do crunches and nothing else; as we mentioned earlier on, spot reduction doesn’t work.
And another study found that exercise prevented regain of visceral fat for 1 year, after participants had lost weight.
If you don’t exercise already, you can start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity at which you work out. Begin by trying to go for a 15 – 30 minute walk and once you feel comfortable doing so, increase your walking pace.
If you do already exercise regularly, you should try out high intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves short bursts of intense activity, followed by longer periods of the same activity at a more comfortable pace.
For example, you could sprint all out for 15 seconds and then jog for 45 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 15 – 20 minutes. HIIT has been shown to be very effective at burning fat.
It is also important to include a little bit of resistance training. This study found that individuals who participated in both aerobic and resistance training had a larger decrease in waist circumference when compared to individuals who participated in only one type of training.
Resistance training will build muscle and ensure that your core will have much more of a “toned” look when you do end up losing fat around your waist. Effective exercises include squats, weighted rows, planks, leg lifts and hip thrusts. These will all work on your abs, giving them more definition.
Losing inches off your waist might take some time so try not to get discouraged if you don’t see results sooner than you had hoped. Your body burns fat from all over and it is impossible to target fat loss from one specific area. Provided that you eat well and exercise often, you will eventually see changes when you look in the mirror.