Most mornings I check my social media like so many of us in this technology driven world. This morning was no different I wake up, get dressed, prepare my porridge and iced coffee and send a few emails before having a browse through social media.
It was almost immediately that I came across one of many videos/blog posts promising to give the BIG SECRET, the best exercises to burn belly fat....
I'm sorry to say if you came to this post pumped to see which exercises are going to get a hold of that stubborn tummy area you've battled with for years, dowse it with lighter fluid (figuratively speaking) and miraculously burn it away.....
This is not that post, HOWEVER it will hopefully give you a better understanding of what it is, why it's there and how you can better achieve your goals.
Cue the busting of a fitness myth that refuses to die!
First of all lets start with the basics...What is body fat?
Body fat is essentially your body's secondary energy store, the first energy store is the food we eat, our body will turn this to glycogen and burn that for an immediate energy source. If we consume more calories that we burn off, that glycogen will be put to one side and stored in the energy bank. If you continue to eat more calories than you burn off, all that extra energy will be stored into what I like to think of as an energy savings account and that savings account turns to body fat when left to build up over time.
Like your savings account, the more you fill it up, the bigger it grows. However, unlike your bank balance, body fat can't appear, or disappear overnight.
It's also good to mention that as a healthy functioning human, you do need a certain amount of body fat, our 'essential fats'; around 10-12% for women and 3-4% for men (based on people aged 18-25 years old). Women need a higher level of essential fats due to hormone production, this can be negatively affected by extremely high, or extremely low levels of body fat, causing things like irregular periods and fertility issues.
Do ab exercises burn belly fat?
Sorry it's the cold hard truth, you can do crunches till the cows come home, but it will not make you wake up the next day with no belly fat. Unfortunately 'spot reduction', when it comes to body fat, is not possible. You have to decrease your total body fat percentage and increase muscle mass to get a more toned appearance, you can work on specific areas to build more muscle and this over time may alter the body fat distribution. But it isn't something you can zone in on and choose where to lose fat.
So what good are ab crunches then? Once you have reduced your belly fat (we will cover how to do this below...so keep reading!) the exercises you generally see on these mythical 'belly fat burning' how to videos will help to define and build on the external abdominal muscles (the six pack area).
What should I do to burn my belly fat?
If you've heard it once you've heard it a thousand times, abs really are made in the kitchen. As we previously mentioned if you are trying to reduce overall body fat and lose weight, you will need a caloric deficit - to be burning more calories than you consume. Aggressive deficits are not necessary, it can be reduced gradually at 10-20% less than your total daily caloric burn. This is also the most effective way to have sustainable fat loss.
The partner in crime to your nutrition is of course exercise!
What exercises should I be doing?
There's no right or wrong when it comes to exercise, but there are more and less efficient ways to assist you in your quest to burning belly fat.
Utilise your biggest muscles and make them work for you! because big muscles burn more calories when worked and a higher caloric burn means you are more likely to use that secondary energy store - body fat (provided there's a deficit)
- Learn some compound movements (this is better done with a trainer than with your friend who thinks they know what they're doing. Better to be safe than injured!), these exercises will not only improve your overall strength, but they burn a heck of a lot of calories even after your workout!
- Get a training plan, having structure to your workouts and being consistent with them is so important!
- Set yourself a goal date, having that focus whether it be a holiday, graduation, birthday... whatever! Give yourself a real reason to get it done!
- Leave your cardio till last, if you use all your energy for cardio at the start of your workout, you will have less to really push your muscles in your strength training and compound movements. Doing cardio last means your body will be more likely to burn body fat for the cardio instead.
- BE CONSISTENT, with training, nutrition, self love, ALL OF IT!
- Remember you can only ever look like yourself. Don't strive to look like your favourite fitness model, because only they can have that body and yours is just as beautiful! But do strive to treat it well and be the healthiest and fittest YOU can be!
We hope you've enjoyed our myth busting, let us know what you think!
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