8 Tips How To Lose Belly Fat Without Losing Weight

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 15, 2024
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Not everyone with the goal of losing belly fat wants to get to an overall lighter and slimmer body.

As a personal trainer, I often deal with clients who want to shed fat around their belly and bulk up at the same time.

This combination of weight loss from fat and building lean muscle is difficult to achieve.

That’s why I teamed up with a few colleagues and a dietitian to research scientific papers and see what kind of diet and exercise routine you’d need for such a goal.

Quick Summary

  • To lose belly fat without losing weight anywhere entails being keen on your training techniques, and your calorie intake.
  • Getting your macros right, lifting weights, stretching, and increasing HIIT workouts are the best ways of losing abdominal fat.
  • According to research from the Havard School of Public Health, to get a flat stomach, you need to get into a calorie deficit; consuming fewer calories than your body burns in a day.
  • I've observed that a combination of high-intensity interval training and proper hydration works wonders for shedding abdominal fat while keeping the scales steady.

How Do You Lose Belly Fat And Maintain Weight?

Woman measuring her waist

You can lose belly fat without losing weight elsewhere by paying careful attention to your calorie intake and the types of training routines you do.

Losing fat to achieve a flat stomach will require you to eat fewer calories than you burn in a day, as shown in studies by the Havard School of Public Health [1].

For extreme weight loss efforts, that would mean achieving a calorie deficit of 20% or more. The problem is that such a calorie reduction will impact your body weight in other areas, including muscle mass.

Additionally, studies published by the National Library of Medicine also show that the right type of exercise can reduce the risks of muscle wasting [2].

The above are the main tips for losing belly fat while maintaining weight. Now let's get into the details.

8 Tips For Losing Only Abdominal Fat

Woman measuring her waist

These are the tips that should help you lose belly fat without affecting muscle mass.

1. Pay Attention To Your Calories

From my experience working with clients, I've seen firsthand that diet plays a crucial role in losing belly fat. In fact, I'd agree with many dietitians and nutritionists who say that at least 70% of your efforts should focus on diet.

So, losing weight around your belly will require a healthy diet with a calorie deficit. Just don’t push it to extremes. Start with a 10% deficit to avoid impacting your muscles.

That said, it's also essential to consider the psychological aspects of this journey, like setting realistic goals and managing body image perceptions, which can significantly influence your success in achieving targeted belly fat loss.

2. Get Your Macros Right

Losing weight is also about counting calories from protein, fat, and carbs. The more simple and refined carbs you eat, the more stomach fat you’ll likely gain. 

In line with what studies by Human Kinesics suggest about cutting out sugar and increasing protein intake, I've guided numerous clients through this dietary shift [3].

One particular client, who initially struggled with sugar cravings, saw a remarkable change in their belly fat composition once they increased their protein intake and reduced sugar.

3. Start Lifting Weights

You might think that to lose belly fat effectively, you need to do an intensive abs workout on a daily basis. However, research published by the National Institutes of Health suggests that focusing more on ab exercises won’t help [4].

I recall a client who was dedicated to daily ab workouts but saw little change until we incorporated full-body strength training into their routine.

“Another benefit of muscle, it is significantly more vascular [better blood supply] than body fat and will cause you to burn more calories at rest than body fat.”

- Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD at WebMD.com

4. Don’t Forget Stretching

A woman stretching on a yoga mat

First of all, stretching can have a significant impact on your stress hormone levels, and those could have a big impact on your weight, as per a 2014 study available in the National Library of Medicine [5].

I've observed the impact of stress on weight in my clients. One client, in particular, struggled with high-stress levels, and despite a good diet and exercise routine, their belly fat remained stubborn. Once we introduced stress-reduction practices, like mindfulness, we saw a notable improvement in their abdominal fat reduction.

In addition, stretching can also improve your range of motion which would help you perform better during workouts.

5. Turn Down The Cardio

While cardio is great for fat loss, you need to balance it carefully with your strength training. You’ll need to do some cardio like running to reduce belly fat and get a flat stomach, but don't let it take over your weekly training plan.

6. Turn Up The HIIT

In my experience, doing high-intensity interval training for losing weight is one of the best ways for consistently losing weight consistently. The great thing about HIIT is that you can combine resistance training and cardio to remove stomach fat and boost your muscle growth.

7. Control Water Retention

One of the main reasons that people experience water retention is excessive sodium intake and a lack of hydration.

Not drinking enough can cause the body to retain water and store it, as per Everyday Health [6].

Ensuring proper hydration is not just about reducing water retention; it also boosts metabolism and aids in efficient calorie burning, which is vital for reducing belly fat.

8. Get Adequate Sleep

Based on my experience, sleep quality is a game-changer in managing belly fat.

That's because poor sleep patterns have been linked to hormonal imbalances that increase fat accumulation in the abdominal area.

As an experienced personal trainer, I recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep combined with a calorie-deficit diet and intense training for optimal fat-burning effects.

FAQs

Should You Only Do Ab Exercises For A Flat Stomach?

No, you shouldn’t only do ab exercise for a flat stomach. While this can help strengthen your core, it won’t help to burn enough fat to reveal a flat and sculpted stomach.

Can You Have A Curvy Figure And Flat Stomach?

Yes, you can have a curvy figure and a flat stomach. It will require doing a combination of cardio to lose fat reserves and some strength training to tone the muscles for a curvy appearance.

Take A Planned Approach To Managing Your Body Weight

To achieve only belly fat loss and avoid losing curves and toned muscles, you have to take the approach of not cutting out too many calories and doing more resistance training.

The other thing you can do is boost your fat metabolism with some natural supplements. We have tested dozens of these to find the ones that work best:

They still require a strict diet and workout routine, but you could find that you’ll get more consistent results for your body composition.


References:

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/diets-weight-loss-carbohydrate-protein-fat/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5161655/
  3. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/32/1/article-p49.xml
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21804427/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25127084/
  6. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/weight/how-recognize-reduce-water-retention-edema/
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