Raise your hand if you want to get a flatter tummy naturally. You don’t want to start another diet, do another cleanse, or take a fat burner pill.
I remember the days when I was skinny but I had a belly bulge that wouldn’t go away. I thought I was eating healthy and I was sure that I wasn’t bloated but why is this belly not going anywhere?
At the time I didn’t want to wear a bikini or any tops that would show my mid-section. For me it was embarrassing that I was a young woman who was carrying around belly fat. I wanted a flatter stomach so I could feel sexy and attractive.
The size of my belly was my #1 excuse for not attending networking events and going out to meet new people. As long as I had a belly I lacked body confidence. Who knew how many opportunities I missed to meet new friends?!
After struggling with this issue and finally getting my flat tummy naturally without buying anything from the GNC store or the vitamin store this is what I learned.
Here are my lessons learned on how to finally get a flatter tummy fast and naturally.
Avoid The Diet Trap – You Will Fail
According to Boston Medical Center about 45 million Americans go on a diet every year. Dieting is the first line solution that people turn towards when they want to lose the tummy and spend $33 billion dollars on weight loss products doing so.
Don’t get me wrong, diets work and they work well so you see results because otherwise it wouldn’t be a billion dollar industry.
But the goal is to get people to maintain their weight loss in the long run which is where diets fail miserably. Diets have a high relapse rate and people jump from diet to diet simply because they are too restrictive and they cannot see themselves eating this way the rest of their life.
Most people get results from dieting pretty quickly because they are cutting back on what they eat – sugar, carbs, processed foods etc – all of which are high in calories.
But can you sustain this eating pattern of never eating carbs again? Or never going out to eat because the food is processed?
Probably not. I know I couldn’t.
We have this mentality that we have to eat less when we want a flatter tummy. This is true because have to burn more energy than we take in to lose the fat but most dieters take it too far. They go on the other end of the extreme and go big on their calorie restriction.
This is the first lesson I learned,
EATING A TOO LOW CALORIE DIET
This one mistake at the beginning of every diet is how they fail – they’re hungry all the time! A low calorie diet will make you feel like a failure because you cannot stick with the diet long enough to see results.
When you randomly choose to only eat a certain amount of calories (like eating 1200 calories because that’s the popular number) without taking into your body’s metabolism into account your body fights back to ramp up your hunger cues.
You'll find yourself salivating for foods you don't normally eat and also feel more tired and have a lot less energy every day. There are plenty of reasons why a low calorie diet will sabotage your flat tummy plans.
You want a flat tummy fast but you also want to be able to maintain your results. Starting on a low calorie diet is NOT the way to do it.
Start with a sustainable eating plan that will make you feel satisfied and nourished after every meal. If what you're doing now for an eating plan is not what you'd be doing six months from now then that's a sign that it's not sustainable.
Get off your diet and find another way. You should not be on an eating plan where you feel like it's a huge sacrifice in a diminished life quality in order to get a flat tummy.
Check out how to lose weight without counting calories for tips you can start implementing RIGHT NOW that will help you eat fewer calories with ease.
If you are 100% committed to getting a flatter tummy fast then follow the 3 steps below to fast track your way there,
- Figure out your TDEE. Google for a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories you’re burning right now. This one is my favorite calculator because it does the caloric deficit for you. You just need to figure out how quickly you want to slim down.
- Track your calories. You can use an app like My Fitness Pal, Noom, or LoseIt
- Set your macros. Aim for eating 1 gram of protein per bodyweight (lb). So if you’re 145 lbs set a goal to eat 145 g of protein per day. Then divide whatever remaining calories between fat and carbs however you choose.
Your Exercise Choice Matters
After spending years in the fitness industry most women who exercise fall into two camps,
Camp #1 – The social, group class ladies (the ClassPass ladies, Barry Bootcamp fanatics, Orange Theory lovers etc.)
Camp #2 – The women who love lifting iron (the powerlifting competition chicks, the everyday weightlifter, and the Instafamous women on IG)
If you're observant you will find that women in these two camps have very different body types. This is a clue as to show you how your body will turn out if you do that type of exercise.
For example, it's like the marathon runner versus the sprinter,
Look at the differences in the tightness and muscle development of their bodies. Most women are afraid of getting bulky and hit the cardio machines instead which is a mistake when you're trying to lose fat.
I made the same mistake too and only did cardio because it was the only type of exercise that I knew how without hurting myself.
Like most women I started with machines at the gym because I was too intimated by the free weights. Looking back and knowing what I know now using machines was a big mistake that stopped me from seeing results sooner.
The second lesson I learned,
DON’T SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME ON CARDIO MACHINES
I get it. In order to lose fat and get a flat tummy you must be burning more calories or eating less to lose fat and maybe you’re afraid of getting hurt with weights like I was.
But there is a negative side to doing too much cardio.
Cardio in excess lowers your metabolism because you're wasting away your muscles on the machine. Not only that but who wants to spend hours at the gym when you're already busy enough as it is?!
If I understood this from the very beginning I would have gotten results much sooner.
So what happens if you really love cardio but you don't want to lose muscle mass while doing it? Let's make that switch to HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio instead.
There are several benefits to doing HIIT cardio but it's mainly time because it provides the same types of benefits as a long cardio workout but in a shorter period of time like in 10-15 minutes.
If you're a beginner you don’t need any equipment just use your bodyweight,
The key to maximize the benefits of a HIIT workout is to is to push yourself at a level of about a 7 or 8 on a rate of perceived exertion chart.
Lifting Weights Matters When You Want A Flatter Tummy
When I first started weightlifting I felt like a fraud. I struggled with getting up the nerve to hit the weights and felt like an imposter waiting in line and taking up the machines.
You know that feeling of like everyone is looking at you and giving you the side-eye? That’s how I felt. My worst fear was someone approaching me at the gym for having bad form or doing something wrong and being judged for it.
Fast forward years later lifting weights helped me to shed almost 10% bodyfat that cardio and healthy eating just couldn't touch.
Reflecting back on the wasted time I spent in the gym this was the next lesson I learned,
FOLLOW A GOOD BASIC STRENGTH TRAINING PLAN
When you're reducing the amount of calories you're eating your body goes into super efficiency energy burning mode. It’s trying to maximize its function with fewer calories.
Your body is smart and very adaptable. It’ll find a way to make up for the lost energy that you're not feeding in multiple ways,
- Getting you to sit more
- Crank up the sensitivity of your nose for food
- Burn up lean muscle mass that you’re not using
The goal is to never having to tap into your own fat stores. Your body will not preserve lean muscle mass unless you use it. Especially on a low calorie diet your body will keep the bare minimum muscle mass that it needs to function.
If you're not on a strength training plan while eating fewer calories then guess what?
You'll lose weight but end up with more bodyfat. Now who wants that?!
Get on a well-designed strength training plan and it will help give you more tone and definition as you’re transitioning to a flatter tummy.
Skip strength training and you'll end up to be an exact lighter version of yourself with more bodyfat.
Don't know where to start with a lifting routine? Start with the basics and work on the learning the fundamental movements. These are important, core movements that focus on multiple muscle groups, burn the most calories, and build a stronger, leaner you.
How To Feel Full While Eating Fewer Calories
One of the concepts I absolutely hate about dieting is that you have to eat less and cut back. There is only ONE THING you must be eating less of to lose fat and that is calories not food.
Of course you must be eating fewer calories than your body needs in order to start losing bodyfat. This principle called eating in caloric deficit MUST be followed no matter what you're eating.
But what you eat is up to you as long as you're in a caloric deficit.
Sure you can go for that milkshake, your favorite nut butter, or donuts. You'll find yourself starving by eating that because those foods contain a lot of calories but it won’t keep you satisfied throughout the entire day.
So how do you get to eat MORE food and still be able to lose fat?
By eating food that is less processed and actually that looks like food. Everything you eat has calories and different amount of calories but not all calories are the same.
Eating a skittles worth of calories in chicken breasts will fill you up faster and make you stay fuller longer than a bag of rainbows.
And how many bananas do you have to eat to get the same amount of calories in one bag of Skittles? 5X more bananas.
By eating whole unprocessed, healthier foods is how you can EAT MORE food and still lose fat. I was certainly eating fewer calories when I wanted a flatter tummy but I was eating the wrong kinds of foods which is why I couldn’t stick with diets for more than a few days. I was hungry!
The lesson I learned was to EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN IN EVERY MEAL.
You want to eat at least a palm full of protein or 25 grams to 30 grams of protein per meal.
It’s not only about switching your diet to eating salads, quinoa, and whole wheat toast you must be eating a sufficient amount of protein as well.
Protein helps keep you full, slows down your digestion, and preserves muscle mass. Not eating enough means hunger which leads to snacking and extra calories will cause you to stall and stop losing fat.
There are many sources of protein but animal sources are considered the best quality because they are considered a complete protein – they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs.
If you're vegetarian, check out Top 5 Vegetables Highest in Protein for non-animal options.
In this post I just told you the classic mistakes I made to achieve a flatter tummy fast which took me longer than I wanted.
To summarize those 4 classic mistakes here they are,
- Instead of chasing low calorie diets find a way to eat sustainably for you and your lifestyle
- Instead of spending hours on the cardio machine switch it to HIIT workouts
- Instead of only just changing your diet get on a basic strength training plan to expedite results
- Instead of only focusing on eating healthy make sure you’re eating enough protein
If you want to dive deeper and go beyond just getting a flatter tummy fast you should also read my Ultimate Guide To Go From Skinny Fat To Fit.
In this guide you’ll learn,
- Why you're struggling to lose the stubborn fat no matter how much you exercise or diet
- What to do when you've hit a weight-loss plateau and 3 simple tips to start burning fat again
- Should you focus on losing fat or building muscle first plus answers to 10 other questions about going from skinny fat to fit