Belly fat is hard to lose because it contains more fat cells (the beta cells) than anywhere else. Our bodies have two types of fat cells; alpha and beta. Alpha cells respond easily to lipolysis (fat burning processes) while beta cells don’t. And that is why you will lose weight faster elsewhere and struggle with your tummy. The beta fat cells are also abundant on women’s thigh and hip areas.
Kick start the fat burn
Besides the diet, which you absolutely have to tweak with more proteins and complex carbs and fewer refined carbs, you will need some movement. Here are a few things to do:
1. Practise the uddiyana bandha when working out. This is a principle borrowed from yoga where you gently pull your belly in towards your spine as you exhale. Do this when doing your planks and sit-ups. This activates your deepest ab muscles (the transverse abdominis.) As you go about your everyday activities, hold your belly in. Practise doing that often to strengthen and tighten your core.
2. Lift heavier. Using 1kg weights won’t do much for your core. Do bicep curls with 4kg weights and you will feel your abs automatically contract to steady your body.
3. Vary your running terrain. When charting your running range, include a few steep areas. When you run fast up a hilly terrain, you have to incorporate arm movement for more support. This makes your core work harder.
4. Do sprints. Gather as much momentum as possible for 20 seconds, rest for 20 seconds and repeat four times. Do this in three sets in one training session. If you live near a hill, sprint up and jog leisurely downhill.
5. Do planks. These target the major abdominal muscles (rectus and transverse abdominis) and the erector spinae, a back muscle. Side planks are even more effective as they also work your obliques (the muscles on your side that you need to work to rid the love handles). Hold your abs tight for maximum effect.