Something that A LOT of skinny fat women struggle with losing their belly fat. If you’re trying to lose the stubborn belly fat then keep reading.
You’ve done the dieting. You’re eating mostly healthy maybe a small piece of chocolate once a week nothing too indulgent. You’re moving and exercising multiple days a week from aerobic classes to power yoga to intense boot camp classes you’re doing it all. And yet the belly fat does not budge.
Looking naked in the mirror you may have loose fat all over your stomach or just excess body fat sitting right in the middle.
How do you deal with this stubborn belly fat that doesn’t go away even though you feel like you’re doing everything right? This is what I’m going to cover in this article.
What Is Considered Skinny Fat?
There is a difference between women who are fat versus women who are skinny fat. Both types of women have a high percentage of body fat of at least 25% and above but a woman who is skinny fat doesn’t look the part.
In fact, if you’re skinny fat you probably have people complimenting your body saying you’re not fat you look great in clothes! But you feel different once the clothes are off. You see a bulge here and there or you’re able to grab your tummy pooch and you don’t like it.
And internally if you are skinny fat you’re putting yourself at risk for diseases that are normally associated with women who are overweight and obese population even if you don’t look it. How’s that for confusion?
You’re considered skinny fat if you have a normal body mass index (BMI) but have a high body fat percentage of usually 30% or above.
To figure out both your BMI and body fat use the resources to figure it out,
- Calculate your BMI use this calculator by the National Institute of Health.
To get your body fat measured there are several different methods but the most commonly used ones are below,
- Bodyfat calipers – use this guide to get an accurate measurement. The accuracy of this method is highly dependent on the user and being consistent with measuring the exact same area every time.
- DEXA scan – these scan are pretty popular and can be found in stand alone facilities and in hospitals as well.
I do not recommend you use handheld devices or your bathroom scale with digital fat measurement capabilities. The reason being that they are highly variable based on your hydration level and their measurements can deviate by up to 5%. If DEXA scans are not convenient for you then do calipers.
Another option is to measure your waist at the height of your navel not your narrowest part of your waist. As your body changes the narrowest part of your waist will shift so that you’re not measuring consistently at the same place every time. Using your navel as a reference point helps to make sure you’re taking measurements in the same place.
Is Your Belly Fat For Real?
We’ve been living with our belly for as far as we can remember that it’s become normal for us and hard to get rid of. You know that diet is important when it comes to losing belly fat so you’ve switched to a healthier diet and started exercising. But even a healthy diet can cause belly fat. Let me explain.
Everyone has bacteria in their guts and our guts are unique to you, your diet, your genetics, and your environment. Unfortunately certain foods even healthy foods can cause the bacteria to be extremely happy and when that happens they produce a lot of gas that causes our belly to expand.
Maybe the only times we notice our bellies is after a meal or at the end of the day and we gripe that this stubborn belly fat isn’t going anywhere. What about at the beginning of the day?
Do you know notice that your belly size grows towards the end even if you haven’t eaten that much all day? That is a sign of bloat.
(example of a bloated belly. Credit to Tiffany Brien)
You get bloat when the foods you’re eating are not properly digested by your stomach acids. When the food arrives at your small intestine the bacteria helps you out to further digest your food. By doing so they produce gas that causes your stomach to expand. Certain foods can cause more gas and others cause less but that can vary from person to person.
You can see if your diet is heavy in foods called FODMAPS that can cause excess bloating and gas by reading High and Low FODMAP Diet Foods To Eat.
Here is how you can figure out whether you’re sensitive to FODMAP foods,
- Every morning at the same time take a measurement of your waist at navel height and scale weight.
(measure waist at navel NOT at the narrowest part of your waist as shown in image)
- Record everything you eat and drink. You can either do a food diary with pen and paper or notepad on your food or use an app like My Fitness Pal to record your diet.
- At the end of the day repeat your measurements. Do this for at least a week and even better for two weeks.
Looking back comparing your measurements and diet you can start to see a trend and see how your diet impacts your waist measurements.
If your ‘stubborn belly fat’ is caused by bloat you can easily solve it through changing your diet. When you avoid foods that cause bloat and add a digestive enzyme supplement to your diet I’ve seen clients lose inches in a few weeks without changing how much they eat or their exercise routine.
3 Steps Plan To Eliminate Your Skinny Fat Belly
The belly is often the very last place women lose fat and it’s frustrating! Almost 100% of my clients have some request to lose inches around their waist or to lose their belly, and just have a flatter stomach. By following this plan below you will also lose inches yourself.
Step 1 – Know Your Maintenance Calories
There are plenty of calorie calculators online that will tell you how many calories your body needs to maintain your weight with all the exercise you’re doing. This calculation is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).
Using these types of calculators comes with a couple of drawbacks,
- None are 100% accurate. The science of figuring out your metabolism is not 100% accurate because your body doesn’t exist in a closed box. At best it is a close enough estimate using different equations to predict your calorie burn. To figure out your exact number would require a few weeks of accurately tracking your eating and taking measurements every week. This way you can get as close to possible in knowing the exact calories your body needs and go from there versus relying on a calculator.
- It is based on your inputs. If your weight, height, activity level etc is off so will the calorie prediction. Also most calculators are more accurate for women who are below 30% bodyfat. When your bodyfat exceeds 30% the calculations become increasingly inaccurate. If you are above 30% bodyfat use the equation below instead and the appropriate activity multiplier,
(formula borrowed from The Women’s Book by Lyle McDonald)
(multiplier chart to calculate TDEE for maintenance calories)
Now that you have a good idea of how many calories your body burns every day when you exercise (TDEE) let’s move on to showing you how to adjust the calories so that you lose your belly fat.
Step 2 – Take A Cut From Your Maintenance Calories
Losing your belly fat means that you MUST be eating fewer calories than your body needs consistently over a period of time. We call this eating in a caloric deficit.
The key word here is CONSISTENTLY. Every week your calorie average must be in a deficit otherwise you won’t see any results.
There are different percentages of deficits you can take but to maintain and do it consistently over the long term I recommend starting out with a minimum of 15% deficit. Small deficits like this are easy to start with, you won’t get too hungry, it’s easy to maintain, and preserves lean muscle mass.
However, if your body fat is higher than 25% than a 15% deficit is going to be slow and you won’t notice many changes. In this case, I would do a maximum deficit of 25%.
For example if you find out that you need to eat 2000 calories to maintain your weight while exercising 3 times a week then below are your calories to lose your belly based on the different deficits,
Remember that it’s better to start with a small deficit and increase it if you want faster progress versus the other way around. You want to see progress and you want to be consistently at a deficit to lose your belly fat.
Step 3 – What To Eat On Your Diet
There’s a lot of information on foods that will prevent, burn, and eliminate belly fat. What they all have in common is that the foods are unprocessed, whole foods. Foods in its most natural state are optimal for your health and for fat loss.
Now what do I mean by unprocessed whole foods? These foods fall into the following guidelines,
- They do not have a nutrition label on them. A nutrition label means that they can be possibly processed and the ingredients have gone through multiple stages for the final product.
- They don’t have an expiration date. An expiration date means that the food has preservatives to prevent them from going bad and other additives to preserve their flavors and enhance coloring.
- The foods are in their natural state. This means that they are ready to eat after being picked from the farm. For instance, vegetables and fruits and pasture raised animals versus buying frozen foods.
Because it’s almost impossible for you to eat only unprocessed foods and we like to indulge in unhealthy foods I recommend following an 80/20 rule. Get 80% of your calories from healthy, unprocessed, natural foods, and 20% of your calories from your favorite foods.
When you’re on a caloric deficit you may feel deprived and it can suck for a long time before you finally eliminate your belly forever. By following the 80/20 rule with eating it will help you to increase adherence so that you stick with your caloric deficit long enough to see results.
The 80/20 rule for a 2000 caloric deficit diet means that 1600 of your calories come from healthy, unprocessed foods and 400 calories from your favorite foods.
Now what about macros like protein, fat, and carbs? Your macro ratios come in second priority after getting your calories right.
When it comes to body recomposition – where you change your fat and lean muscle mass – there is a hierarchy of priorities. Get them in the wrong order and you will get frustrated, not see results, and be overly stressed. Below is the hierarchy of priorities when it comes to body recomposition with calories being MOST IMPORTANT and supplements being LEAST IMPORTANT,
(pyramid of importance for body recomposition)
You will see that it’s important to get your calories straight first. If your numbers are off it doesn’t matter what macro ratios – protein, fat, carbs – you’re eating you won’t see results. You will lose belly fat when you’re eating in a caloric deficit no matter the macro ratio.
For optimal results it’s best to eat a sufficient amount of protein starting at 0.8 g/lb of body weight. If you’re not sure what this means and how to calculate all of this I wrote a 70 page Ultimate Guide that you can check out or download that will explain all the details to you.
Eating at a caloric deficit and a sufficient amount of protein is the 2 most important numbers to get straight. Fat and carbs can be varied based on your eating preferences. Their ratios don’t matter as much.
There has been multiple studies done where protein has remained the same but the fat and carbs differ to see if one macro affects fat loss more. Scientists have pulled these studies together to do a comparison and have found that you when you compare fat loss in a high/low fat diet and a high/low carb diet there isn’t any significant differences.
So there you have it. Follow these 3-steps to finally get rid of that belly fat.