Knowing how to lose belly fat in a safe and sustainable way can be one of the trickest items to tackle on the journey to a healthier lifestyle—especially as we face middle age.
As we get older, we lose small amounts of muscle every year and this slows down our metabolism which can make losing weight even harder. Falling estrogen levels during the menopause also means that our bodies tend to reshape—with fat redistributing from the bum and thighs to the stomach area.
Luckily, there are ways you can lose belly fat fast but still in a totally safe and healthy way. As well as following a belly fat diet plan, you'll also need to increase your daily movement and exercise regularly.
Whether you lace up a pair of the best running shoes for women or invest in the best women's walking shoes, embarking on a new journey into fitness for women over 50 is key when it comes to losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way. This is true at any point in life, but especially during or after the menopause. Making fitness as much a part of your lifestyle as healthy eating is vital.
With the help of experts and a dash of science, we bring you the ultimate guide to how to lose belly fat, including a one-month diet plan to reduce belly fat from our expert nutritionist and top tips for making fitness a part of your every day.
How to lose belly fat
1. Kick-start your metabolism with Red Bush tea
Who doesn't love a cup of tea? But, when it comes to losing belly fat, it's time to swap out your usual English Breakfast in favor of naturally caffeine-free Red Bush. Not only can it do wonders for your waistline, but it's great for your overall health too.
"A recent research review (opens in new tab) by Dr. Tim Bond and myself found that Red Bush contains a compound called aspalathin which in laboratory studies, has been shown to reduce fat, increase fat metabolism and block fat cell formation," explains Dr Emma Derbyshire, a nutritionist from the Tea Advisory Panel.
"The same new research also found antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits from drinking red bush tea as well as immune function and blood glucose benefits. As a result, Red Bush tea is not only good for weight loss needs but also for our general health and wellness."
2. Boost fat burning with CurraNZ
Another day, another exciting superfood supplement to add to your diet. Cue—CurraNZ, a blackcurrant supplement that could help you burn more belly fat.
"Research (opens in new tab) has found that New Zealand blackcurrant supplement, CurraNZ can boost fat burning during exercise, with some data suggesting it can increase the base rate of fat burning at rest, too," explains sports nutritionist Kate Shilland.
The research also found the supplement to be more effective in those who had a higher BMI, and overall found participants increased fat burning by 17%-21% while brisk walking for 30 minutes over the course of the 14 days they took the supplement.
3. Cut down on starchy carbs
While carbs play an important role in providing your body with enough energy and the ability to store energy, too many starchy carbohydrates can make getting rid of belly fat much harder.
"Belly fat is the most stubborn of areas, hormones play a part but so does your intake of starchy carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes, or starchy foods like pizza," says Kay Illingworth, creator of The Diet Plate (the very first portion control plate). "To lose belly fat, starchy carbohydrates need to be limited to a small portion around 90 - 125 grams a day as shown on the Diet Plate section."
You shouldn't eliminate starchy carbs from your diet altogether in a bid to lose weight, but by being more mindful of the food you're eating and its nutritional value you can still eat well and lose weight.
And, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a bowl of your favorite pasta, you just have to embrace the mantra of everything in moderation!
4. Add avocados to your diet
Creamy and filling, there are so many reasons to love the humble avocado and they are one of the best superfoods for weight loss. And now we've just learned that munching on it could get us one step closer to toned-up abs—yes really!
"While some foods can be beneficial for weight loss in general, avocados are particularly beneficial in shifting belly fat," says David Wiener, Training Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics. "Avocados contain high levels of monosaturated fat which can help to slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, helping to reduce blood sugar levels, which in turn helps the body to break down fat. Research shows that foods which decrease the blood sugar level force the body to burn fat in order to release energy."
5. Ditch the booze
You might not realize it, but a night out with lots of alcoholic drinks could be seriously impacting your plans to lose belly fat.
"Alcoholic drinks are often referred to as empty calories. This means they provide your body with a lot of calories but contain very little nutrients," says nutritionist and author Christine Bailey. "Additionally when alcohol is consumed, it’s burned first as a fuel source before your body uses anything else. This includes glucose from carbohydrates or lipids from fats. The result? Excess glucose and lipids end up as fat on the body particularly around the tummy." In fact, in a study (opens in new tab) of more than 2,000 people, frequent alcohol consumption was associated with more belly fat.
Instead of indulging in alcohol every time you go out, why not try going alcohol-free during your belly fat diet and swap your usual tipple for an alcohol-free plant-based liquor and mixer? Or serve sparkling water mixed with elderflower cordial in a glass flute for that 'prosecco effect'?
6. Introduce targeted exercise
While reassessing your diet is important when it comes to how to lose weight, regular exercise and daily movement are key for weight loss. Whether you take a gym class, start running from couch to 5k, or challenge yourself with at-home workouts, introducing targeted exercise into your routine will help you lose belly fat.
Strength training is as important for fat loss as cardio-based workouts. The best bodyweight exercises or resistance band workouts can help you tone up and lose belly fat from the comfort of your own home.
Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist & E-RYT Yoga/Barre Instructor Kristina Carman suggests leg raises as one of the best exercises to lose belly fat.
- Lay on your back with your palms placed below your hips
- Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle
- Slowly lower your legs toward the floor then pull them back up to center (try not to drop them down, aiming for about a 45-degree angle)
- Repeat 10-15 times for 3 rounds
For those who enjoy a cardio workout, Maximuscle ambassador and personal trainer, Dan Lambert, suggests embracing exercise acronyms to win your battle with belly fat. "EMOM stands for ‘every minute on the minute’ and is a brilliant tool for installing accountability into your home workouts," he explains.
"Perform a set of reps of an exercise as fast as you can, every minute, on the minute (some people choose larger sets or multiple exercises and go every 2-3 minutes). Your rest is the remaining time before the next beep, so it pays to work quickly!"
On a 20-minute running clock complete the following on the minute every minute:
- 5 x push ups
- 5 x mountain climbers (on each side)
- 5 x burpees
- 5 x reverse lunges (each leg)
7. Get your cortisol under control
"If we're talking about losing belly fat, then we need to talk about cortisol, as it is one of the most mismanaged aspects of our body through modern diets and lifestyle," says personal trainer James Griffiths.
"Cortisol plays a big part in our blood sugar by elevating the levels in order for us to deal with stressful situations. But what goes up, must come down, so if our blood sugar goes up via cortisol, eventually it’s going to back down and this yo-yo effect makes us crave sweet foods."
To take back charge of your cortisol levels, you can:
- Eat every three hours to help maintain your blood sugar
- Establish good sleep hygiene and get your eight hours a night. Hours before midnight are more valuable than those after, so a 10.30 pm bedtime is ideal with a bedtime routine full of relaxing activities such as a warm bath or sleep-guided meditations
- Eat a high-GI (Glycaemic Index) carb, such as a banana, within 15 minutes of a workout
How to lose belly fat in a month
If you want to know how to lose belly fat in a month, our expert nutritionist Angela Dowden is here to help! Her easy-to-follow four-week belly fat diet plan will allow you to shed excess weight fast, in a safe and healthy way.
With ideas for what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this one-month diet plan to reduce belly fat will set you up with the basics to help you hit your health goals.
As well as swapping your usual meals for the options below, remember to stay active, too. Even just a brisk walk every day will do wonders for your physical and mental health. Or, if you feel like taking this up a notch you can try the popular Nordic walking technique or break up your week with a range of walking workouts.
What is the one month diet plan to reduce belly fat?
- This diet has low-GI (glycaemic index) foods to stabilize blood sugar and target stomach fat
- It’s calorie-controlled yet packed with filling and nutritious foods
- The plan is rich in high-fiber whole grains and monounsaturated fats to help lose fat
- It includes protein at every meal to help curb your appetite and prevent muscle loss
How does the one month diet plan to reduce belly fat work?
- Choose one breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, varying your choices
- Drink an extra glass of semi-skimmed milk or plant milk alternative (calcium-fortified) in addition to any already mentioned in the meals
- Snacks aren’t included in this plan, so try to space out your meals. If you need a snack, have a few prawns, two celery sticks spread with a little light soft cheese or an apple
Breakfast ideas to reduce belly fat
1. Two poached eggs on steamed spinach with 1tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
2. Porridge made with 40g oats and 250ml skimmed milk, topped with raspberries.
3. One slice of wholegrain toast, spread thinly with 1tbsp tahini or peanut butter. 2 satsumas.
4. 200g baked beans on 1 slice of wholegrain toast.
5. One boiled egg and 1 slice of wholemeal toast spread with a light scraping of butter and Marmite. Half a 540g can grapefruit in fruit juice.
Lunch ideas to reduce belly fat
1. 300g lentil soup with 1 slice of wholemeal bread spread with 30g light soft cheese and tomato. Small banana.
2. Two slices of wholemeal bread filled with 2tsp reduced-fat mayo, 75g tuna in brine, and as much salad as you can pack in. 100g 0% Greek yogurt and a slice of cantaloupe melon.
3. A medium jacket potato topped with 1 boiled egg, mashed, mixed with 2tsp reduced-fat mayo and cress. Serve with salad.
4. One wholemeal wrap filled with ¼ mashed medium avocado, 1 small grilled skinless chicken breast, diced, and lots of tomato and rocket.
5. 85g reduced-fat houmous served with 1 toasted wholemeal pitta, cut in strips, and cherry tomatoes. 100g 0% Greek yogurt and raspberries
Dinner ideas to reduce belly fat
1. Stir-fry 3tbsp canned chickpeas in 1tsp oil and add 150g straight-to-wok noodles and 100g prawns. Wilt in half a bag of rocket and add soy sauce to taste. A bowl of strawberries with one squirt of light aerosol cream.
2. Grill a white fish steak wrapped in a slice of Parma ham and serve with 200g ready-made sweet potato mash and broccoli. Bowl of fresh fruit salad and 3 squares of 70% cocoa dark chocolate.
3. Fry ½ courgette, ½ red onion, and ½ red pepper in 1tsp oil. Pour over 2 beaten eggs whisked with 1tbsp skimmed milk and cook until set. Top with 2tbsp grated Cheddar and grill until the cheese is melted. Serve with lots of salad dressed with 1tbsp balsamic vinaigrette.
4. Serve 3 slices of roast chicken with 2 homemade roast potatoes, a pile of vegetables and gravy made from granules. 1 apple.
Dr Emma Derbyshire, a nutritionist from the Tea Advisory Panel (opens in new tab), Kay Illingworth, creator of The Diet Plate (the very first portion control plate), David Wiener, Training Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics (opens in new tab), nutritionist and author Christine Bailey (opens in new tab), Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist & E-RYT Yoga/Barre Instructor Kristina Carman, Maximuscle (opens in new tab) ambassador and personal trainer, Dan Lambert, and personal trainer James Griffiths for their time and expertise.
Ciara was the former digital health editor at womanandhome.com, covering all things health & wellbeing from fitness to sleep to relationships. She's always on the lookout for new health trends, innovative fitness gadgets and must-read wellness books.
Originally from Ireland, Ciara moved to London to study journalism. After graduation, Ciara started her career at Goodhousekeeping.com. Ciara qualified as a meditation teacher with the British School of Meditation in 2020, and outside of her day-to-day now runs her own meditation school called Finding Quiet. She is all about bettering that mind-body connection but believes wellness looks different to everyone.
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