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The Simple Science of Losing Belly Fat…For Good

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If you’re struggling to lose belly fat and want to know why, and what to do to finally get a tight, toned stomach, then you want to read this article.

 

I have good news for you:

Losing belly fat is much simpler than you probably think.

As you’ll see, all you have to do is make slight changes to your diet and exercise routine, and your belly fat will disappear.

And if you want to lose the gut as quickly as possible, there are a couple “bonus strategies” you can use as well.

So, now that I’ve whetted your appetite, let’s dive in, starting with why the hell belly fat can be so hard to lose…

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Why Belly Fat is Hard to Lose

No, you’re not imagining things.

Belly fat is harder to lose than fat in other areas of your body.

That’s why you’ve probably noticed that when you diet to lose weight, your upper body is first to shrink while your belly remains more or less the same.

To understand why this is, we need to review how your body actually “burns” fat.

“Burning fat” is really a two-part process:

  1. Releasing energy from fat stores into the blood (lipolysis).
  2. Cells taking those molecules in and utilizing them (oxidation).

This first step, lipolysis, is triggered by chemicals known as “catecholamines,” which include adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Once these chemicals are in your blood, they attach to “receptors” on fat cells (that work much like a lock and key), which causes them to release some of their energy stores (free fatty acids).

These fatty acids are then used as fuel (burned or “oxidized”) by various types of cells in the body, including muscle cells. In fact, well-trained muscle is particularly good at oxidizing fats, which is why it’s easier to lose fat when you have a good amount of muscle.

Now, here’s where we get to the difference between areas of the body where fat stores seem to be “stubborn,” like the belly, versus other areas of the body where fat melts away easily.

The primary difference between “stubborn” belly fat and “regular” fat is it contains a high amount of fat cells with catecholamine receptors that blunt lipolysis.

You see, fat cells have two basic types of catecholamine receptors: alpha and beta receptors.

The physiology gets pretty complicated, but the long story short is beta-receptors accelerate lipolysis and alpha-receptors hinder it.

What this means is fat cells that have more beta-receptors than alpha-receptors are relatively easy to mobilize (they respond favorably to catecholamines), whereas fat cells that have more alpha-receptors than beta are not (they don’t respond favorably to them).

This is the basic problem with belly fat, and all other forms of “stubborn fat“–the ratio between beta- and alpha-receptors is heavily weighted toward alpha, which means that catecholamines can’t trigger lipolysis as easily.

Thus, when you’re losing fat, you see immediate reductions in fat cells with a large number of beta-receptors, but little change in fat cells with a large number of alpha-receptors.

For most of us, this means rapid fat reduction in places like our arms, shoulders, chest, face, and legs, and slower reductions in our stomachs, hips, lower back, and thighs, which have high concentrations of stubborn fat cells.

So, if that’s the science of belly fat, how do we get rid of it?

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally

how to lose belly fat naturally

Belly fat may be stubborn…but it’s not completely immune to the fat-burning effects of catecholamines.

What that means is when you gradually reduce your overall body fat percentage, you will lose belly fat…it’ll just be slower than you’d like.

Just to make this clear…

Your primary goal when you want to lose belly fat is to simply reduce your body fat percentage.

The bottom line is if you’re a guy over 10% body fat or a girl over 20%, you’re going to have a fair amount of belly fat to lose if you want to have skin-tight abs. That look requires 7 to 8% body fat in men and 17 to 18% in women. There’s just no way around it.

And that’s why you don’t necessarily need to do anything special to lose belly fat.

Maintain a moderately aggressive calorie deficit, balance your macronutrient intake, use weightlifting to preserve (and even build) muscle while you lose fat, and you’ll eventually have that washboard stomach.

That said, there are a few things you can do with exercise and supplementation to help your body better mobilize stubborn fat cells and thus lose belly fat faster.

By way of example, here are results from a cut of mine. I started around 10% body fat and was holding a noticeable amount of fat in my obliques and lower abs:

lose-belly-fat

And after following my advice for about 8 weeks, here’s how I looked at 6 to 7% body fat:

belly-fat-loss

As you can see, a large amount of the weight I lost was belly fat.

And here’s how I did it…

6 Strategies for Losing Belly Fat Faster

exercises to lose belly fat

You can’t “target” belly fat (or any other fat) for elimination, but you can do a handful of things that will both accelerate total fat loss and help “force” stubborn fat cells to mobilize.

By using the six strategies given below, your weight and waist will shrink faster.

How much faster depends on many things, but I’ve worked with thousands of people and I can confidently say that combining these strategies with a proper diet and training routine can speed up fat loss by 30 to 50%.

That is, if you can lose about 1 pound of fat per week through diet and exercise alone, you can lose 1.3 to 1.5 pounds per week with the strategies outlined in this article.

It’s hard to quantify how much more stubborn belly fat you can lose with my advice, but I can say that it will be noticeably faster if you follow it than if you don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let’s get to the “belly fat loss tips.”

1. Fasted Training

losing love handles

People usually think “fasted training” means “training on an empty stomach,” but it has little to do with how empty or full your stomach feels.

Fasted training means training in a “fasted state,” and this has to do with insulin levels in your blood.

When you eat food, it gets broken down into various molecules that your cells can use, and these molecules are released into your blood. Insulin is released as well, and its job is to shuttle these nutrients into cells for absorption and processing.

Depending on how much food you eat, your plasma (blood) insulin levels remain elevated for several hours (anywhere from 3 to 6+ hours).

This is relevant to fat loss because insulin blocks lipolysis.

That is, when your body is in a “fed” state and insulin levels are elevated, it’s busy absorbing nutrients and little to no fat burning occurs.

Your body enters a “fasted” state when it has finished absorbing all nutrients from the food you’ve eaten and insulin levels return to their normal, low “baseline” levels.

This is why feeling like you have an “empty stomach” doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re in a fasted state (an empty feeling stomach doesn’t mean your insulin levels have returned to baseline).

Now, when you exercise in a fasted state, fat loss is accelerated (and weighlifting in a fasted state is particularly effective in this regard).

Research also shows that fasted training increases blood flow to the abdominal region, which further helps burn belly fat away (the better the blood flow to a region, the more catecholamines can reach it).

The easiest way to work fasted training into your routine is to work out first thing in the morning, before you eat breakfast. This has an added benefit, as well: fasting for longer than 6 hours significantly increases your body’s ability to burn fat.

There is a downside to fasted training, however: when you exercise in a fasted state, muscle breakdown is increased.

This is bad simply because too much muscle breakdown impairs total muscle growth over time.

Fortunately, you can prevent this with proper supplementation.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I want you to know that the supplements I recommend in this article are not just what I personally use but they are from my supplement line, LEGION.

As you probably know, the supplement industry is notorious for its lies and shenanigans. The truth is the majority of the supplements you see in the magazines and on the shelves aren’t going to help you reach your goals faster.

That’s why I decided to create the products I myself have always wanted: science-based formulations, clinically effective dosages of all ingredients, no fillers or unnecessary junk, and natural sweetening and flavoring.

You can learn more about LEGION and my goal to change the supplement industry for the better here.

And if you like what you see and decide to support my work…you’re awesome. 🙂 It’s because of people like you that I get to spend my time writing articles like this that help others get into the best shape of their lives.

HMB and Muscle Preservation

exercises to lose belly fat

The supplement β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (also known as HMB) is a substance formed when your body metabolizes the amino acid leucine, which is an amino acid that directly stimulates protein synthesis.

HMB is often sold as a muscle-building aid but the research purported to demonstrate these benefits is shaky at best, hindered most by design flaws. Thus, I’m not comfortable making any claims about muscle growth.

There is one benefit of HMB that’s well established, however: it’s an extremely effective anti-catabolic agent.

That is, it’s very good at preventing muscle breakdown, which means you will recover faster from your workouts and experience less muscle soreness (and the free acid form shows the most promise in this regard).

It also has no effect whatsoever on insulin levels, which means it can’t break your fasted state.

This makes HMB perfect for use with fasted training.

Its powerful anti-catabolic effects and non-existent insulin effects means you reap all the fat loss benefits of training fasted without any of the problems relating to muscle loss or insulin secretion.

It’s also worth noting that HMB is superior to leucine in suppressing muscle breakdown because it’s more anti-catabolic than its “parent” amino acid.

This means it’s also more effective than branched-chain amino acid supplements because they rely on leucine for their anti-catabolic effects (isoleucine and valine are very weak in this regard).

In terms of which specific HMB supplement I recommend, I’ve included a clinically effective dosage in every serving of my pre-workout fat burner FORGE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORGE is a fat burner made specifically for use with fasted training and it contains clinically effective dosages of HMB plus…

  • Yohimbine. Research shows that yohimbine enables your body to reduce fat stores faster, and it’s particularly useful as you get leaner and are battling with stubborn fat holdouts.
  • Citicoline. CDP-choline (also known as citicoline) is a chemical that occurs naturally in the brain that increases levels of another chemical called phosphatidylcholine, which is vital for brain function.

Research shows that supplementation with CDP-choline improves attentional focus, and I included this in FORGE because most people find fasted training more mentally draining than fed training and CDP-choline can help counteract this.

The bottom line is FORGE helps you lose fat–and “stubborn” fat in particular–faster, preserve muscle, and maintain training intensity and mental sharpness.

forge-bottle1

2. High-Intensity Interval Cardio (HIIT)

how to lose belly fat fast

High-intensity interval training is a simple exercise protocol that can be applied to many types of cardio, such as running, biking, swimming, or rowing.

The basic idea is you alternate between periods of (almost) all-out intensity and low-intensity recovery.

During your high-intensity bouts, you push yourself almost as hard as you can, and during your low-intensity periods, you catch your breath in preparation for the next sprint.

Now, why do I recommend this specific style of cardio over the more traditional low-intensity type of cardio that many people do?

Well, several studies such as those conducted by Laval UniversityEast Tennessee State UniversityBaylor College of Medicine, and the University of New South Wales have conclusively proven that shorter sessions of high-intensity cardio result in greater fat loss over time than longer, low-intensity sessions.

In fact, a study conducted by The University of Western Ontario showed that doing just 4 to 6 30-second sprints burns more fat over time than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking (one of the staples of “bodybuilding cardio”).

Furthermore, keeping your cardio sessions shorter means you better preserve your muscle and strength, which is vitally important when it comes to building a physique.

Now, chances are you’ve heard these things before but still have several important questions, such as…

  • How “intense” do the high-intensity intervals need to be in terms of exertion and length?
  • How “restful” and long should the rest periods be?
  • How long should the workouts be?
  • How frequently should you do HIIT workouts?

Basically: what actually qualifies as a HIIT workout and how do you get the most out of this type of training?

Read this article to find out.

3. Heavy Compound Weightlifting

how to lose belly fat for men

If research clearly shows that weightlifting is an effective way to accelerate fat loss, why is it generally associated with “bulking up” and not “slimming down”?

Well, weightlifting isn’t a popular way to lose weight, and for good reason:

It’s a bad way to lose weight…but a fantastic way to speed up fat loss and preserve muscle.

A study conducted by scientists at Duke University illustrates my point perfectly.

Researchers recruited 196 men and women ranging from 18 to 70 years old and split them into three groups:

1. Resistance training

These volunteers exercised three days per week and did 24 sets per workout using resistance machines. Each workout lasted about an hour.

2. Aerobic training

These volunteers jogged 3 days per week at a moderate intensity for about 45 minutes per session.

3. Resistance and aerobic training

These volunteers did both of the routines above, putting their total weekly exercise time just over 5 hours.

After eight months, guess which group lost the most weight?

Number two–the aerobic training group…the only group that lost muscle as well.

And guess who lost the most fat and gained muscle?

That’s right–group number three.

These findings are in line with several other studies as well, and the picture is clear:

If you want to lose fat faster and preserve or even build muscle, you want to do both weightlifting and cardio.

What kind of weightlifting should you be doing, you wonder?

Well, the best type of weightlifting for weight loss would do two things:

  1. Effectively preserve or build muscle.
  2. Burn a lot of energy.

And the type of weightlifting program that best meets both targets is one that emphasizes heavy, compound weightlifting.

By “heavy,” I mean handling weights that are 70%+ of your one-rep max (and ideally closer to 80 to 85%).

This isn’t only best for building muscle–it’s great for burning fat, too.

A study published by Greek sports scientists found that men that trained with heavy weights (80 to 85% of their one-rep max) increased their metabolic rates over the following three days, burning hundreds more calories than the men that trained with lighter weights (45 to 65% of their 1RM).

Similar effects have been seen in other studies as well.

And by “compound weightlifting,” I mean focusing on the big movements like thesquat, deadlift, and bench and overhead press.

We don’t really need science to tell us that squatting burns more energy than biceps curling, but research has confirmed that exercises that involve large muscle groups burn more energy–both during and after training–than exercises that involve smaller ones.

So hit the weights and hit them hard if you want to “supercharge your metabolism” and maybe even build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

If you’d like some guidance on actual workouts to do, check out this article.

4. Caffeine

As weight loss boils down to energy consumed vs. energy expended, caffeine helps you lose fat by increasing your body’s daily energy expenditure.

Caffeine also improves strengthmuscle endurance, and anaerobic performance, and also reverses the “morning weakness” experienced by many weightlifters.

Part of maximizing the fat loss benefits of caffeine is preventing your body from building up too much of a tolerance, however. The best way to do this is to limit intake, of course.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Before training, supplement with 3 – 6 mg caffeine per kg of body weight. If you’re not sure of your caffeine sensitivity, start with 3 mg/kg and work up from there.
  2. Keep your daily. intake at or below 6 mg per kg of body weight. Don’t have 6 mg/kg before training and then drink a couple of coffees throughout the day.
  3. Do 1 – 2 low-caffeine days per week, and 1 no-caffeine day per week. A low day should be half your normal intake, and a no day means less than 50 mg of caffeine (you can have a cup or two of tea, but no coffee, caffeine pills, etc.).

Personally I get my caffeine from my pre-workout PULSE, which contains a dehydrated and concentrated form of caffeine (caffeine anhydrous) shown to be more effective for improving performance than what is naturally found in beverages like coffee.

PULSE also contains clinically effective dosages of 5 other ingredients scientifically proven to improve workout performance:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  • No artificial food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.legion-pulse

5. Yohimbine

I mentioned yohimbine earlier, which is a substance found in the Pausinystalia yohimbe plant, and that it helps the body “tap into” fat stores.

(Not a very technical explanation, I know–if you want to know exactly how it works, check out this article of mine on how to lose stubborn fat.)

Yohimbine accelerates weight loss, but only works if you’re training in a fasted state. Elevated insulin levels negate yohimbine’s effects.

I’ve cut both with and without fasted training and yohimbine and I can say with absolutely certainty that with is noticeably faster. So much so that I think the biggest benefits of fasted training are that it lets you use yohimbine and it makes the other supplements discussed in this article more effective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By itself, fasted training will make a slight difference in how quickly you lose fat. Combined with these supplements, however, it’s quite dramatic.

In terms of dosages, research has shown that .2 mg/kg of body weight is sufficient for fat loss purposes, and that ingesting it prior to exercise is particularly effective.

Some people get overly jittery from yohimbine, so I recommend you start with .1 mg/kg of body weight to assess tolerance. If you feel fine, then increase to the clinically effective dosage of .2 mg/kg.

Furthermore, yohimbine can raise blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, I don’t recommend you use it.

In terms of which specific yohimbine supplement I recommend, you’re probably not surprised that I’ve included a clinically effective dosage in my pre-workout fat burner FORGE.

forge-bottle1

6. PHOENIX Fat Burner

PHOENIX’s caffeine-free formulation is quite a bit different than FORGE’s and is actually made to be “stacked” with it (taken together).

PHOENIX helps you burn fat in three different ways:

  • It dramatically increases metabolic speed.
  • It amplifies the power of fat-burning chemicals produced by your body.
  • It increases the feeling of fullness from food.

It accomplishes this through clinically effective dosages of several ingredients, including…

Through these mechanisms, naringin also works synergistically with synephrine and hesperidin to further accelerate the basal metabolic rate.

Research has shown that supplementation with forskolin accelerates fat loss and increases testosterone levels.

  • And more…

The bottom line is if you want to lose fat faster without pumping yourself full of stimulants or other potentially harmful chemicals…then you want to try PHOENIX.phoenix-bottle

The Ultimate Belly Fat Loss Routine

how to lose love handles

Before I sign off, I want to quickly show you how to put these strategies together to make a powerful belly fat loss regimen.

This is exactly what I do when I’m cutting and it works like a charm.

If you want to lose fat as quickly as possible without sacrificing your health or sanity, lift weights 4 to 5 times per week for 45 to 60 minutes per session, and do 3 to 4 20 to 25-minute HIIT cardio workouts.

Here’s how my training and supplementation break down…

Before Weightlifting (6:45 AM)

I wake up, drink some water, and get ready to go to the gym to lift. It’s about a 15-minute drive, so before leaving, I take the following:

2 servings of FORGE

1 serving of PHOENIX

1 scoop of PULSE

I then go lift for 45-60 minutes and my post-workout meal of about 40 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbohydrate is the first of the day.

Lunch (12 PM)

My lunch is light–a salad with chicken and balsamic vinegar for dressing. The reason for this is I want my insulin levels to be at baseline by about 5:30 PM for my fasted cardio.

If I were to eat a larger lunch, like let’s say 40 grams of protein, 60 grams of carbohydrate, and 20 grams of fat, my insulin levels would likely still be elevated come 5:30.

I don’t take any fat loss supplements at lunch.

Before Cardio (5:30 PM)

About 15 minutes before doing my fasted cardio, I take the following:

2 servings of FORGE

1 serving of PHOENIX

1 scoop of PULSE

I then do 25 minutes of HIIT cardio on the upright or recumbent bike and eat dinner after, which contains about 40 grams of protein and anywhere from 50 to 100 grams of carbs.

That’s it. Rinse and repeat and voila, I can get as lean as I want.

The Bottom Line on How to Lose Belly Fat

exercise plan lose belly fat

I know I’m repeating myself, but this really is the key takeaway of this article:

No matter how stubborn your belly fat might be, if you simply focus on continuing to reduce your body fat percentage, you will get rid of it.

Accordingly, you must ensure that you get your diet and training set up correctly.

No amount of “tricks,” pills, and powders can help if you’re making “newbie” weight loss mistakes or exercising too little or too much.

That said, when your diet and workouts are on point, you can use the strategies given above to speed the entire process up.

Give it a go and let me know how it goes!

 

What’s your take on “stubborn” belly fat? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

If you're a guy, check out Bigger Leaner Stronger, and if you're a girl, Thinner Leaner Stronger is for you.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE USED MY BOOKS TO BUILD THEIR BEST BODIES EVER. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

If you want a "paint-by-numbers," step-by-step blueprint for building a muscular, lean, strong body...faster than you ever thought possible...then you want to check out my bestselling books.

Here's a little sneak peek of what you'll learn inside...

  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
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Bigger Leaner Stronger

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Thinner Leaner Stronger

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