Four Essential Steps for Losing Your Belly Fat

April 17, 2013 4:05 pm Last Updated: May 29, 2016 5:34 pm

Follow these four steps to banish that extra layer of fat around your waist so you can increase your energy, gain more confidence, and show off your flat abs.

The goal of following this routine is to:
• Burn fat and build muscle
• Improve metabolism
• Reduce stress
• Increase your energy

STEP ONE: Breathe. It does a body good.

The first step to losing your muffin top is so simple: breathe deeply. If you cannot breathe properly, it will be harder (if not impossible) to get your belly flat and strong.

There is a muscle that wraps around your waist like a belt. It is a deep abdominal muscle called the transverse abdominus (TVA). It is responsible for holding in your guts (literally), supporting your spine, and flattening your belly. Without a strong TVA, you can easily injure your back and develop a poor posture.

To find your TVA, start with belly breathing.

As you inhale, expand your belly out as if it were a balloon puffing up with air. Try to leave your chest muscles out of it.

As you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine. Exhale until all the air is pushed out of your body. At the end of the exhalation, you should feel a tightening of the muscles in your abdomen.

Once you find this breath, try these exercises:

The Elevator.
Inhale to expand belly out, exhale a little bit to draw navel in slightly, then slightly more on the next little exhale. Each time you slightly draw your navel back, imagine an elevator descending down six floors toward your spine, drawing back one flight at a time, and pausing at each floor for a moment before reaching the bottom floor. Do 10 repetitions and three sets everyday.

Belly Breathing on All Fours
Kneel on all fours. Keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Keep your spine in a neutral position.

1. Inhale and expand your belly toward the floor (activating your diaphragm).
2. Hold your breath and draw your navel to your spine, pushing all of your organs out of the way (activating your TVA).
3. Lift your pelvic floor (the muscles that stop you from going to the bathroom).
4. Exhale forcefully as you continue to draw your navel in without rounding your back.
Repeat 6 to 10 times.

An added bonus for breathing well:

Stress throws the body into a flight or fight state of being. The nervous system gets riled up, and the body releases a hormone called cortisol. When cortisol is released, metabolism slows down. We then become much more susceptible to gaining weight in our midsection.

Breathing deeply has a relaxing effect on the body. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a high stress state of being while breathing deeply. This is because breathing deeply and slowly calms the nervous system down. When the nervous system is calm, cortisol levels will go down, and metabolism will begin to behave normally.

STEP TWO: Burn more fat in 12 minutes than in a 40 -minute jog

Now that you have started to recondition your core, it is time to boost your metabolic function!

The good news is that losing your gut does not require hours of dedicated gym time. In fact, I do NOT recommend that. Spending too many hours working out is not healthy, contrary to popular belief. It will age you faster and potentially cause chronic pain from physical overuse.

To get the best results for fat loss, you’ll want to keep your cardio routine short, yet intense. Your routine should only take you 12 to 20 minutes to complete.

This suggested routine will not only help you spend less time doing cardio, but you will burn three times as much fat in 20 minutes as you would jogging for 40 minutes.

Getting Started: Burst Training

Warm up by walking for five minutes. As you walk, center yourself. Feel your head in line with your shoulders, and your shoulders in line with your hips. Imagine a pole running through the center of your body. All the muscles around the pole should gently hug it and keep the pole straight.

Take long strides with each step forward, striking through your heel first. Gently keep your navel drawn in throughout the exercise, and breathe through your nose whenever possible.

Start running after the five-minute mark. Keep your stride long and your heel striking the ground first. Run; don’t jog, for the next 60 seconds. As you run, notice your pelvic floor lifting, your inner thighs working, your glutes firing up, and your abs engaging. Keep your arms loose and relaxed. Imagine holding butterflies in between your gently formed fists as you run. Your run should be difficult enough to make you feel as though you couldn’t last at that pace for longer than 60 seconds.

Walk after completing your first sprint, walk slowly. Stand tall as you walk. Catch your breath. Let your heart rate slow down. Once the breath and heart rate come back to normal, sprint again for another 60 seconds.

Repeat running bursts four to six times.

You may follow this routine on a bike, elliptical, or in the pool as long as each 60-second burst makes you feel winded.

Enjoy burning fat for the rest of your day… not to mention enjoying more energy and a better mood.

STEP THREE: Lift, baby, lift!

Losing belly fat takes more than just breathing and running. You must build muscle! So lift, baby, lift! And I am not talking those wimpy three-pound dumbbells—really challenge yourself. In order for your weight lifting routine to seriously boost your metabolic function, you must lift heavy, and lift using whole body exercises like squats and presses.

Sample Routine:
Front load squats with 10- to 30-lb dumbbells for 12 to 15 repetitions.
Go right into dumbbell shoulder presses for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Repeat this superset one to three times.
Rest for one minute.
Ball curls 12 to 15 repetitions.
Pushups 10 to 12 times
Repeat this superset one to three times.
Rest for one minute.
Front plank for 30 to 60 seconds.
Side plank for 30 to 60 seconds.
Repeat this superset one to three times.
Pair with burst training or alternated between the two routines every other day.
Be sure to learn proper form. This should only take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

STEP FOUR: Food Choices

Belly bloat is often caused by food sensitivities. Food sensitivities are determined by how you feel after eating a particular food. If you feel better when you do not eat a certain food and worse if you do, then you are sensitive to that food.

Symptoms to food sensitivities can manifest as indigestion, bloating, and physical pain, or “brain fog.” If you suffer from these symptoms regularly, consider cleansing your system for three weeks with an elimination diet.

Do this by removing the top five foods that cause inflammation. They are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and eggs.

After three weeks, reintroduce one food back in every four days. Pay attention to any adverse reactions as you add these foods back in. Eat them several times in two to three days. If you have a reaction right away, no need to keep eating it.

If you do not feel that you have a problem with food sensitivities, then, to lose your belly, you must start to eat a whole and real foods-based diet. Too much sugar, additives, and processed foods will lead to mood swings, uncontrollable cravings, weight gain, and belly fat. Start enjoying real food that tastes good.

Finally, eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are satisfied, not full. Drink plenty of water. Eat foods that give you energy, and avoid foods that zap your energy.

Before you know it, you will look and feel good.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves or spending hours at the gym. Her website is