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How Long Does It Take to Lose Belly Fat?
Everything You Should Know

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: July 15, 2021

As a personal trainer, many clients ask me for help because they want to lose belly fat.

Yes, those stubborn love handles around your waist circumference won’t always go away, even with a healthy and stringent weight loss diet.

And the most frustrating thing for many people is that losing fat around the belly is a very slow process.

But how long does it take, and are there ways to speed things up?

Let’s take a look at how we approach visceral fat with clients.

How Quickly Can You Burn Fat?

Woman resting from exhaustion during exercise

The good news is that with the right calorie-deficit diet and exercise routine, you can start to lose belly fat within a couple of days.

And here’s what that would look like.

If you change your food intake to a 500-calorie deficit per day, your body will be forced to make up 500 calories from stored body fat.

That’s a simple way to look at it, but you also need to be careful not to take in too few calories.

But it doesn’t take a scientist to calculate the overall weight loss.

With nine calories per gram of fat, that could mean as much as 500 / 9 = 55 grams or 1.5 ounces of fat per day [1].

Now, that means the fat from all over your body, and it might be a bit slower to target the belly. But there are benefits from lowering your overall BMI.

More on that shortly.

Now, if you wanted to take it one step further, you could invest in a quick and pain-free DXA scan [2] that will tell you exactly how much fat your body contains.

That will also indicate what your excess subcutaneous fat is, and as a result, you’ll be able to roughly calculate how long to stick with a calorie deficit diet to achieve your weight loss goals based on your starting weight.

And with a second scan a few months later, you’ll have real data on your fat loss progress which doesn’t factor in the loss of water weight which otherwise would be misleading.

Let’s take a look at how you achieve sustainable weight loss, especially for visceral fat.

How Can You Speed Up Losing Belly Fat?

Here are the three things we go through with clients to help them lose weight and target visceral fat.

1. Diet

Meal prep diet in a Tupperware

Let me say this right upfront.

You can't out-train bad dieting habits. If you have bad eating patterns and habits, and let those hunger hormones take over, no amount of running or strength training will remove a few ounces, let alone five pounds of fat.

No matter how much you work out at the gym or how many miles you run, if you eat too much, you won’t avoid weight gain. You might slow it down, but it won’t go away.

What you need is a healthy and well-balanced diet with net-negative calories that avoids refined carbs.

That means no more white bread, pasta, and those highly processed breakfast cereals that have about as much nutritious value as the boxes they come in.

The good news is that you can approach this with an app like Noom that will tell you many factors of what’s in the food you’re eating. This app also makes some suggestions for what things you should be cutting out.

This alone will have a significant impact on your waist measurement in a matter of weeks.

“What you eat matters more than how you work it off, but fitness will push you past plateaus and help you achieve your ultimate goals.” - Alexandria Gomez, Writer at WomensHealthMag.com.

2. Exercise

Woman stretching on a yoga mat

Here’s where most people make a mistake. They start walking or running on a daily basis and then do the same thing over and over again.

What happens here is that your metabolism gets used to the activity and prepares for it with blood sugar and glycogen.

The result is that dreaded weight loss plateau where nothing seems to shift the visceral fat.

Instead, pick three or four different exercises like running, high-intensity interval training, plyometrics, and rowing.

Then, switch these around to different days every week for a unique weight loss program.

This constant shifting around of when and how hard you exercise has a much more effective impact on your metabolism, forcing it to target fat cells, including visceral fat, and could lead to losing a pound of fat or more a month.

It’ll feel great when your clothes start to fit differently.

3. Supplements

Supplements stacked on each other

Once you’ve fixed your diet and workouts, you can add a fat-burning supplement to help speed the weight loss up a bit.

These supplements can be very effective in helping you lose weight, even in situations where nothing seems to work.

You can also add a pre-workout supplement to help you train just a bit harder before fatigue sets in.

These are not just good for building lean muscle mass but for visceral fat loss as well and can improve both men’s and women’s health.

Then, switch these around to different days every week for a unique weight loss program.

This constant shifting around of when and how hard you exercise has a much more effective impact on your metabolism, forcing it to target fat cells, including visceral fat, and could lead to losing a pound of fat or more a month.

It’ll feel great when your clothes start to fit differently.

Why Is Belly Fat Particularly Bad For Your Health?

Measuring a round belly with a measuring tape

Belly fat is medically referred to as visceral fat due to its location in the abdominal area. Its proximity to major veins that feed the liver makes excess body weight around your belly quite dangerous.

Now, carrying around extra body weight can have an impact on your back, but the health issues can be a lot more serious.

Excessive visceral fat can slowly release into the liver, where it’s transformed into cholesterol that enters the bloodstream.

It increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, which further impacts the amount of visceral fat you store.

It’s like a vicious circle.

Next, your body could develop insulin resistance which further plays tricks on your blood sugar levels and can ultimately lead to diabetes. You may already know that diabetes is also a major barrier to losing weight.

And that’s why everyone should target belly fat loss as part of their exercise program.

FAQs

How Long Does It Take For Your Body to Start Burning Fat?

It takes about 45 minutes of aerobic exercise for your body to start to burn fat. At that stage, blood glucose and glycogen reserves will run low, and the only way your body can continue to fuel itself is by resorting to stored subcutaneous fat, including visceral fat.

What Type Of Exercise Burns the Most Fat?

High-intensity circuit training is the exercise that tends to burn the most fat. It uses up all the easily available energy reserves quickly so that your metabolism is forced into boosting energy levels with fat.

Have You Figured Out How To Speed Up Weight Loss?

Your waist circumference is entirely dependent on healthy eating and exercising regularly. That means reducing how much you eat as well as cutting out any added sugar intake.

If you burn more calories than your body takes in, you will target those fat reserves leading to weight loss and many health benefits.

And this negative caloric burn effect can kick in within a few days and will last for months if you stay motivated and focus on your progress.

Take a closer look at your diet and exercise plan, and let us know in the comments how long it’s been taking you to lose fat.


References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4182-fat-and-calories
  2. https://health.ucdavis.edu/sportsmedicine/resources/dxa-info.html

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