Do you ever feel like your entire body changes except your belly??
I used to make the joke that my body was like chocolate lava cake.
Pretty solid on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside lol.
My problem areas always were/are my lower abs and lower back.
I want to tell you why you may be a little soft in the middle and what to do about it.
Some of the belly problem is in the genes.
However, I first want to mention that our fat distribution, and also where we tend to lose fat more easily vs. more stubbornly, is largely genetic.
Also, you cannot spot reduce.
Those two caveats aside, I was able to make some changes personally that helped me not look so skinny fat.
And, we’ve also been able to achieve the same results for our clients who come to us and mention that they feel like even when the scale goes down … their belly fat doesn’t.
There are certain things we need to look at it when it comes to belly fat in particular.
First, you need to have muscle!
How would you best describe the exact physique you want? Lean? Toned? Athletic? Strong? Fit?
All of those adjectives require muscle.
Keep in mind, muscle is really freakin’ hard to build! It’s a slooooow grind. Even slower than fat loss.
So, please don’t act like you’re going to turn into the incredible hulk overnight.
It just doesn’t work that way.
If you feel like you’re “skinny fat”, which essentially means you are losing weight but body composition isn’t improving, it’s likely that you need some muscle.
What are some of the requirements for building muscle?
Well for starters, you need to eat ENOUGH.
Chronically under eating is a great way to keep belly fat hanging around.
Your body isn’t going to get rid of that protective layer if it perceives a consistent threat. And, always eating low calorie is a chronic stress.
Not to mention we have more cortisol receptors in that area so you may even look like you’re gaining weight in your belly due to water retention and bloating from stress.
Second, you need enough protein.
Research shows that 0.7 g/lb. of body weight is the minimum amount of protein needed to maintain or build muscle. That means a 200 lb. individual would need at least 140 g of protein per day.
You can go up to 1 g/lb. of body weight, which may have some additional benefits like less hunger, more calories burned through the digestive process, etc.
Bottom line … you need enough calories AND enough protein.
Can exercise help the belly bulge?
In terms of exercise, don’t do what I did and try to cardio your way to a lean physique.
If you love to do cardio, that’s great! There are plenty of health benefits to cardio.
But, if you want to avoid looking skinny fat … then you need resistance training in the mix.
Why? Because cardio makes us more efficient with calories. Strength training makes us inefficient with calories.
Meaning that the more cardio I do, the less calories I burn doing cardio and the less muscle my body needs (because if I’m not using it, then why keep it?).
Plus, I will not burn as many calories at rest because muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat.
Strength training, on the other hand, might burn less calories per session, but it requires a lengthy recovery process that also burns calories. And, having more muscle means burning more calories at rest.
Essentially, you are building your metabolism when you eat and train to build or maintain muscle.
Your belly benefits by avoiding these common mistakes.
Most people make all 3 mistakes … they under eat for too long, they don’t eat enough protein, and they do too much cardio/not enough resistance training.
More advanced individuals typically get in enough protein but not enough calories.
Then, there’s the stress side of things where you can be checking the boxes … enough calories, enough protein, and consistently strength training but you still feel soft in the middle.
Likely because you are under too much stress. Which can be from any source or a combination of multiple stressors.
That’s why recovery and restorative activities are super important.
Here’s the belly fat blasting plan …
The blueprint for getting leaner, more toned, more fit, more athletic, etc. …
Eating enough protein and calories to support your metabolism and muscle mass.
Strength train to build your metabolism and burn more calories at rest.
Use low intensity activities like walking to help with recovery.
Go through short periods of losing fat while maintaining muscle (this should be done on as many calories as possible).
Take diet breaks or refeed days to prevent metabolic adaptations.
Listen to biofeedback like hunger, cravings, mood, energy, sleep, stress, digestion, performance, and recovery to know when the fat loss phase has run its course.
Restore homeostasis and continue to support your metabolism while enjoying life and maintaining your results.
Rinse and repeat.
It’s pretty simple ;).
A personal nutrition and fitness coach makes the process easier!
Of course, it makes things a whole lot easier to have expert guidance, support, and accountability through the process.
Having a coach that knows your situation intimately and can tell you EXACTLY what’s working and what needs to be adjusted is invaluable.
It’s why I never do this alone. I always have someone in my corner.
This is just one part of what we do for our clients in our 6 month, 1:1 coaching program.
We’ve turned many a body from that soft center to lean and athletic. But, more importantly, we’re able to do it in the most enjoyable and sustainable way possible while also dramatically improving their relationship with food and offloading a ton of mental stress.
It’s pretty damn effective if I may say so myself. Anyway, if you’re interested, just shoot me a PM on Facebook.
Let’s have a chat to see if you’re a fit for the program. If you are, I can extend an invite and get you enrolled within a day or two.