Burn Belly Fat

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne (Atkins Nutritionist)

Burn belly fat: Many people want to lose weight in their middle section but many people find that their belly is where the fat tends to be hardest to lose. You perform abdominal exercises until you drop and yet nothing seems to work

Before you read this article, it is important that you realise that you can 'spot reduce' or lose bodyfat from just one certain area, such as the belly. However, it's not impossible to lose bodyfat from your belly! We can help you to achieve your weight loss goals to lose excess body fat, especially abdominal fat.

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Types of abdominal fat and health risks

There are actually two types of fat and both types of fat are present in every human being. Health risks occur when you have too much excess bodyfat.

Subcutaneous fat

This type of fat is located directly under the skin, above your abs. This fat is the type that most people want to reduce and can be frustrating for people to lose.

Visceral fat

This type of fat is around your organs and is therefore the most dangerous form of fat. This fat is also called 'belly fat' as it's the white fat that’s stored in your abdomen and around all of your major organs, such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, and heart. 

Several studies show that excess body fat is associated with high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and some other diseases.

Visceral fat burning?

But how do you burn this (potentially) dangerous visceral fat? When you start to burn fat, you automatically burn this fat however the tips that read in this article can help you to absolutely incinerate for visceral fat!

Now you know the health risks and differences in visceral fat and subcutaneous fat, it is time to explain the difference in fat loss between men and women.

burn belly fat: difference in men and women

When it comes to abdominal, and other body fat, there are some important differences between men and women. We'll explain in more detail:

When do you have too much belly fat?

A healthy weight is often calculated using BMI alone, which is based on the relationship between height and weight. However, this isn't the best way to determine whether someone has too much belly fat. A better way to determine whether you have too much belly fat is by measuring waist circumference. Men can generally have a large waist circumference than women before being considered unhealthy.

Here are the general guidelines about abdominal circumference:

  • Women have too much belly fat with a waist circumference of 80 centimeters or more.
  • Men have too much belly fat with a waist circumference of 94 centimeters or more.


Another way to measure results if by having your body fat percentage taken. Women naturally have a higher percentage of bodyfat than men.

Use the following guidelines when measuring your fat percentage:

  • Women have too much belly fat with a fat content of 32% or more.
  • Men have too much belly fat with a fat content of 26% or more.


How do you get a toned stomach?

A healthy body fat and waist circumference is definitely a step in the right direction. Eventually, though, many people want to aim for a toned stomach.

But what percentage of body fat do you need to have a flat stomach?

  • Women generally can achieve a toned stomach with a body fat content of 22% or lower.
  • Men can generally achieve a toned stomach with a fat percentage of 17% or lower.

Where is abdominal fat stored?

The fat, or the abdominal circumference, of a healthy man or woman differs. This is partly because abdominal fat and body fat is stored in different places in men and women:

  • Men store fat primarily in the abdomen. Excess belly fat in men is often referred to as a "beer belly".
  • Women tend to store fat on the hips and thighs. Excess fat can result in women having "love handles"

What should you do to burn belly fat?


Now that you know what types of abdominal fat there are, what are the health risks? Plus now you know that there are essential differences between men and women, you can get started losing weight from your belly.

1. First, get busy!

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule means that your body structure is often determined by 80% diet/nutrition and 20% by sport and exercise.

Do you do lots of sports or exercise yet hardly pay attention to your diet? If so then you'll see a lack of results around the abdominal area or anywhere on your body. If you do abdominal exercises, you may gain some muscle but still find it hard to lose weight

So how do you lose this fat?

2. Eat less sugar and carbs!

The main cause of developing belly fat and other body fat is eating too many carbohydrates. When you eat a high carb diet, your body burns the carbs for energy and excess gluclose is directly stored as body fat. If you reduce your carb intake your body goes your (belly) fat reserves to get energy. The process by which your body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fat is called ketosis.

But one carbohydrate is not the same as another, so we explain the different types of carbohydrates briefly for you:

Broadly speaking, there are two types of carbohydrates: The simple carbohydrates, also called fast burning carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates, also called slow burning carbohydrates. Read more about the differences between simple and complex carbohydrates.

In order to lose weight in your belly, and weight loss in general, its essential that you avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates as much as possible. Simple carbohydrates are mainly found in the following foods:

  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Soft drinks
  • Juices
  • Sugar (candy, cake, pastries, etc.)
  • Pasta
  • potatoes

Healthy, complex carbohydrates are found in the following foods:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Nuts
  • Quinoa
  • Seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Oatmeal
  • Avocado

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Now you're probably wondering how you can add complex carbs to your meals and we can help!

Breakfast: Bowl of Atkins muesli with Greek yogurt

Snack: Atkins bar of your choice

Lunch: Chicken Cobb Salad

Snack: Atkins Shake

Dinner: Stuffed peppers with turkey mince, onion and garlic. 

Find even more inspiration with low carb recipes.

Would you like to learn more about what foods we recommend? Read our article about our favourite low-carb foods.


3. Eat more protein

Protein has always been an important part of the Atkins lifestyle. There are so many health benefits of protein.

Eating enough protein stops hungry as it's slow digesting. Research has shown that eating protein decreases cravings by as much as 60%! So eating more protein can help to get rid of excess (belly) fat.

Furthermore, from another study, conducted in Denmark, it showed that the risk of abdominal fat significantly decreases as you eat more protein.

This means that eating protein, both directly and indirectly, has a positive impact on burning belly fat!

Get protein mostly from the following sources:

  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Beef
  • Poultry: chicken, turkey, etc.
  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, etc.
  • Tofu
  • Beans and legumes

burn belly fat

4. Eat more healthy fats

Fats? Yes, fat! At Atkins, we all know that eating fat is not the culprit in the weight loss battle and we hear about diets which banish fat. It is it is essential that you choose the right fats, high in omega 3 fatty acids.

These fats have the following health benefits:

  • Filling fats! By eating healthy fats you are less hungry and therefore you burn fat;
  • Fats stimulate fat burning;
  • Fats reduce cortisol in your body and that has a positive effect on (long-term) stress. See also Tip 6 above!

To get enough healthy fat, we recommend you eat the following food:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Butter
  • Avocado
  • Nuts

5. Eat more fibre

Fibre is not only very important in digestion. They also make sure, like proteins, that you're less likely to eat again. Each day provides an extra 14 grams of fibre make you about 10% eat less. And again ensures you about four months on average 2 kilos fall off. Please note that 14 grams is on top of your normal fibre intake.

The recommended fibre intake is 30 grams per day.

Soluble fibre can mainly be found in:

  • Vegetables such as chicory, broccoli and leeks
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Fruit: Limit to one piece per day, due to the sugar content

Insoluble fibre is mainly found in:

  • Whole grain products like whole wheat and rye bread
  • Linseed
  • Nuts

It is important to have a good mix of soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet. Both have their own health benefits.

Would you immediately start to lose weight belly? Download our free weekly menus including delicious low-carb recipes!

6. Avoid (long-term) stress

Experiencing prolonged stress plays an important role in the development of abdominal fat. Research from Yale University has shown that cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, plays an important role in the accumulation of abdominal fat. This hormone increases especially when you are experiencing a lot of stress, little sleep and / or unhealthy eating.

All these things may sound easier said than done but it doesn't have to be hard, often three steps are linked: 

  • Having a high sugar diet can affect your sleep so you feel more stressed. Sounds logical right?
  • Eat fewer carbohydrates! Curious about how many carbohydrates are in a particular food? Use a carbohydrate counter, such as ours;
    Avoid sugary products and eat only one piece of fruit per day. Even natural sugar is sugar. Keep your intake to one fruit only if you want to burn body fat.
  • With a low-carbohydrate and low-sugar lifestyle you calculate with dips example after your lunch or dinner and stabilize your blood sugar. Fluctuating blood sugar is one of the causes of poor sleep.
  • Eat low sugar and refined carbs is step one for a good night's sleep.
  • Try also to sleep at least eight hours each night. Reading for half an hour before bed may help you to relax

    Other tips to reduce stress:
  • Create a to-do list
  • Stop multitasking;
  • Schedule free time in your calendar;
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol;
  • Just play a board game and put away your smartphone or games console and switch of the television

    Try these tips and you will notice that you start to feel a lot calmer. Ultimately, this helps to reduce your cortisol level and this will show on your waist line!

To summarise:


How to burn belly fat?

  1.  Make sure your diet is balanced
  2. Eat less sugar and carbohydrates;
  3. Eat more protein
  4. Eat more fat;
  5. Eat more fibre
  6. Avoid prolonged stress.

If you follow these six steps, then you'll naturally burn more belly fat. And perhaps most importantly you will feel fitter, healthier and more energetic!