Combine Healthy Eating With Tummy Toning Exercises

2 women exercising

If you are like many of our readers here you are keen to lose your tummy fat, tone your thighs and trim down the fat on your arms and bottom.

Fortunately the same exercises and diet rules will help all of these. There are really just 3 things that you need to do to lose fat from any part of your body:

  • You need to change your diet
  • You need to get more active in your daily routines
  • You need to get stronger and fitter

Without exception everyone that you see around you that is overweight has got into that situation for one simple reason – they have eaten more food than they need. There are some medical conditions and medications which mean that people are likely to have a larger appetite, but the general rule is that overweight people eat too much, you included!

If anyone says “I have tried every type of exercise there is and not lost weight” it is for 2 reasons that they failed to lose weight:

  1. Their fitness levels prevented them from exercising at a high enough intensity to make a huge difference to their metabolic rate.
  2. They did not change their diet to help with their weight loss, instead making the classic mistake of thinking that exercising means you do not need to diet.

Likewise, whenever anyone says “I have tried every diet under the sun and cannot lose weight“, the lack of weight loss is generally due to this:

  1. They did not follow the diet correctly, and usually cheated along the way. Many people say they are following a diet, and then eat foods that are banned on the diet with the excuse – “well, I cannot believe this is unhealthy”. Classic examples are people continuing to eat bread and high GI vegetables when on an induction phase of a low carbohydrate diet, or people drinking copious amounts of fruit juices and smoothies even though they have been told not too by their dietician, because those drinks are “healthy”.
  2. They do the diet reasonably well, but make no other changed to their lifestyle, and do no exercise.

Researchers have shown that diet and exercise must be done together for weight loss plans to work. Diet without exercise and exercise without diet both lead to failure.

Tummy Toning Diet and Exercise Plan for Women

If you wish to lose your tummy fat, then follow these rules. Please note that “spot reduction”, that is reduction of fat from one body part, is not possible. So knowing how to lose tummy fat is actually knowing how to lose weight, as the only way to lose tummy fat is to reduce your overall fat content. Whether you are very overweight, or if you just have a stubborn layer of fat left to shift before you can display a set of six pack abs, these tips should solve your problems.

Before we continue, please note that performing hundreds of abdominal exercises everyday does not help to reduce fat. Crunches and sit ups alone, although intensive on the stomach, will not shift fat – and building bigger abdominals could actually make your stomach look bigger if it is still covered in a layer of fat.

Why are we focussing on tummy fat? Two reasons – to show off our abs, and also to be healthy. Modern thought concerning weight issues is that simply measuring body mass index does not provide a good indicator of health. Size of waist circumference is a better measure of health. Even a small amount of fat carried in the abdominal region is unhealthy.

For many people losing tummy fat and getting a toned stomach is the most important goal of any fitness and weight loss regime. So today we shall look at ways to tone your stomach, sculpt your abs and burn off tummy fat.

There are 3 elements to achieving a well toned and flat stomach:

  • Diet – Diet is the most important factor. What we eat determines how much energy we have, how much fat we accumulate and how healthy we are. It also determines the speed at which you build muscle and helps to control hunger and speed up metabolism. Some people say that diet accounts for 80% of weight loss.
  • Exercise – Exercise is also vital to weight loss and tummy toning. But alone it will not be enough, which is why diet is so important. Also, without exercise. diet will fail. Exercise burns fat and also increases metabolism as a result of building more muscle.
  • Sleep – This is something that is so often overlooked. Sleep affects weight. Not only does lack of sleep lead to hormonal imbalance that affects appetite, it also leads to binge eating and inactivity which lower metabolism.

So, how do we lose weight and lose tummy fat by following the rules above?

The Tummy Diet Plan

This is simple: Eat less and cut out sugar.

There really is little more to it than that. But, most people fail to understand what sugar is. Sugar is not just the white stuff that you have in a jar for coffee and tea. Sugar is present in all carbohydrates, and “healthy” vegetables and fruits are not immune to the presence of sugar.

Why do you need to eat less sugar?

Sugar is energy in its pure state. There is nothing useful other than the energy. As soon as we have consumed too much energy we start storing excess energy as FAT. So if your fitness instructor, dietician, weight loss plan etc. say that you cannot drink fruit juice or eat carrots, it is because this plan is getting you to reduce your sugar intake.

The reason for cutting out highly nutritious juices and some vegetables is because the diet plan will be getting you to consume more healthy protein sources and healthy fats which help to strengthen your body and suppress your appetite. If you follow the diet but then drink a fruit smoothie and add a few extra vegetables to your plate you will go over your daily calorie allowance, and you will not lose weight. So if you go on a diet, follow it to the T. No excuses.

Other common mistakes people make when “dieting” are drinking energy drinks or energy bars. These are great for professional athletes or extremely fit and strong people that are used to working out a lot. People that drink protein shakes are also keeping a close eye on the rest of their diet. If you are on a diet plan and it does not say “drink the protein shake that your friend is drinking in the gym” then do not drink one! Just because a friend or colleague says it will help you does not mean it will. It will only help you if you are doing everything else that they are doing.

So, diet rules are: Eat less food, cut out sugar. Drink water instead of everything else.

Cut Sugar and Saturated Fat

After exercising, the most important rule for losing tummy fat is to stop eating junk food. Although, some nutritionists say that junk food can be eaten in moderation, it often leads to excess with little effort. Do not take the risk. From now on junk food in any form should not be allowed into your home.

So no more takeaways, no more double whoppers with cheese, no more cookies, sweets, candy, soda or other sugar laden snacks. It is also important to cut back on processed meats – so say no to hot dogs, sausages, salami and other forms of processed meat. These meats are high in saturated fats.

Eat The Right Carbohydrates

Not all carbs are equal. Refined flours and the foods that they create, such as white bread, pasta, donuts, cakes and biscuits should be avoided. They can cause bloatedness, poor digestion, and lead to accumulation of fat. “Good carbs”, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, should be eaten instead.

A diet that takes most of its carbs from fruits and vegetables, as opposed to flours, is healthier. Slow release carbs are also beneficial, such as oats, brown rice, some pulses and sweet potato. Ideally granary or wholemeal bread should be eaten instead of white bread, and biscuits and cakes should be avoided.

Consuming too much carbohydrate can bump up your insulin level, which can slow down your metabolism. Your body cannot metabolize too much carbohydrate at once because the body doesn’t need so much energy at once. The excess sugar will just turn into tummy fat.

Much research has shown that adopting the Atkins Nutritional Approach, i.e. a high fat/protein diet, is the way ahead. Avoiding carbohydrates increases fat burning metabolism (lipolysis), which helps to reduce stomach fat.

Stop Binge Eating

Try not to binge on food in the evening. Often people eat out of boredom, frustration or stress. And when at home, binge eating is very easy to do. The main problem with binge eating in the evening is that there is not much activity done afterwards. Going to bed straight after eating causes high sugar levels in the blood stream and no energy is spent after that. As a result the excess sugar turns into fat. So, DO NOT BINGE!

Also, try to consume your last meal around 2-3 hours before your bedtime. If you are hungry during late nights, consume a small meal rather than binge.

Drink Less Alcohol

Decrease alcohol consumption, or better still, give up drinking altogether. There is a good reason why a beer tummy is called a beer tummy! There are two reasons to give up alcohol. Firstly, alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories, especially those that are sweetened. Beer is stacked with carbohydrates and sugars. If you are in the habit of having a few drinks in the evening, these calories really add up, and the fat is generally accumulated around the waist. The other reason is a metabolic one. When you consume alcohol, your body stops burning fat and sugars while using the alcohol for energy. Alcohol is a source of energy. This means that if you spend an evening drinking, you will not be in a state off lipolysis (fat burning) or glucosis (sugar/carbohydrate burning) and any food eaten will be stored as fat. Only once all the alcohol has been utilised will you start to burn fat again.

Losing tummy fat and getting a flat stomach is a long term goal for most people, so persevere, stick to the plan and don’t give up. In addition to these tips, look to enhance your fitness training by following specific routines and schedules. Organising your weekly routine makes it much easier for you to follow your schedule. After a while it will become second nature for you to get out and exercise. If you do not have to think about what you are going to do, then that saves precious time. Keep a diary, write up your training goals and progress in an exercise log, and just do it!

The lose stomach fat you have to know who your enemies are. These are your tummy enemies:

  • Sugar in all its forms
  • Junk food of all types
  • Processed foods
  • Ready meals
  • Soda
  • High GI foods
  • Fruit juice
  • Health snacks

You may be surprised by the last two on the list. Any excess sugar we eat is converted into fat. Most people overestimate the amount of food they need each day by a long way. Fruit juices and healthy snacks a full of energy, energy that most people do not need.

Fruit juice contains a lot of fructose, which is the natural sugar in fruit. Although fruits are healthy, and a rich and varied diet is required to a healthy immune system and proper functioning of muscles and the nervous system, too much fruit juice will lead to accumulation of fat, or at least will slow down weight loss. If you are serious about losing weight then stop drinking juice. The only drinks you should have are water, tea and coffee, both without milk. (Elliott, 1992)

“Health snacks” are another problem when losing weight. They are only labelled “healthy” because they contain low salt or low fat levels. However, they are almost always energy dense foods made of grains. Although there is nothing unhealthy about them as such, they are so full of energy that eating a couple of health snacks a day will stop you from losing weight, and will not let you lose your tummy fat.

Healthy Eating Options

So to lose tummy fat you need to have real healthy food. This means eating food that is closer to nature. So fresh fruits and vegetables (raw), or lightly cooked vegetables (ideally steamed). Following a low GI diet is recommended as this lowers total sugar intake, and as we mentioned already, all sugar consumed is turned to fat, if it is not burnt off.

Some examples of healthy low GI foods you can eat are:

  • Pulses – beans, peas etc.
  • Apples – eat the skins
  • Grapefruit – grapefruit juice is acceptable in moderation
  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Avocado – great with mozzarella and tomato in tricoli salads
  • Courgettes
  • Spinach – baby spinach can be eating raw in salads
  • Peppers – high in vitamins
  • Onions – one of natures wonders
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy greens – eat in abundance in salads – rocket and watercress are great options
  • Leeks
  • Green beans
  • Broad beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mange-tout peas
  • Broccoli – a superfood
  • Cauliflowers
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Milk
  • Peanuts

There are many other low and medium GI foods available. Educate yourself well on this topic and weight loss will become much easier.

Remember that lean meats and fish are all low GI (no sugar in fact) so are allowed. Remember to stick to healthy cuts of meat, limit fat. Fat is very energy dense, so only a little fat can quickly push you over your daily calories allowance.

Exercise For Flat Stomach

Why You need to get stronger and fitter

This is a vital part of weight loss. Exercise does several things:

  • When you exercise you burn calories which helps you lose weight
  • When you build muscles you increase your metabolism, which means you use energy quicker and burn more fat
  • Exercise helps you feel good about yourself, your self esteem increases
  • Exercise helps you sleep better which means you desire less comfort snacks and keep calories down

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many other benefits but these are the most important. And remember, you need to exercise and diet to lose weight, not just one.

As for the type of exercise you do, it does not actually matter that much. You do not need to do any stomach exercises to lose weight. Intensive cardio exercise like running, cycling and swimming with regular weight training exercises, like squats, lunges, bench press, rows and curls, will help you far more than any abdominal exercise. Exercise is about burning fat and building muscles. Ab exercises alone are not anywhere near enough. And if you think that exercising your abs help you lose your tummy fat, then you are mistaken.

The most important change you must make if you wish to lose you tummy fat and get a flat stomach is to start working out. But simply jogging a few miles twice a week, or playing some tennis at the weekend, will not shift stubborn tummy fat. The best way to lose weight is a combination of intensive interval training and resistance training, ideally in the form of compound weight training.

You do not need to join a gym to start getting fit, as we can provide several home exercise routines, as well as weight training routines. However, for motivation and support, being a member of a gym can help.

One of the best ways to get some intensive interval training is in a martial arts class. Kickboxing, karate, judo, and kung-fu are all excellent choices. Also new popular methods include spinning, kick-boxercise as well as more traditional step aerobics. You need to be working in the fat burning zone, so invest in a heart rate monitor, and learn how to use it!

For weight training we recommend a beginners training workout, which is designed to burn fat and tone muscles for a lean and slender look.

You should aim to do two intensive weight training sessions and two intensive circuit training sessions each week. Always plan a good rest day at the weekend, plus have a day of “active rest”, which means moderate light activity, such as swimming or walking on the other day. Read our abs exercise tips to get you going, also learning how the celebrities get fit can give you inspiration, and we have workouts and diet tips from some of our favourite celebs to help you.

No Stomach Exercises to Burn Fat!

There are no “stomach exercises” as such that will flatten your stomach. The best way to exercise to get a flat stomach is to perform full body workouts and exercise the core also. So perform circuit training workouts with squats, lunges, star jumps, skipping, push ups, burpees, leg raises, back extensions and crunches too.

Weight training is an excellent way to tone and stay trim. Barbell squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, lateral pull down (or modified pull ups) dips, curls and bench press are all excellent exercises that work large muscle groups, burn fat, raise metabolism and tone muscles.

The core muscles for weight management and toning are really squats and lunges (work similar leg, bum and thigh muscles), lateral pull downs (works back and arms), push up . bench press (works chest) and curls (work biceps). These exercises will get you toned. Toned legs can make a huge difference to your over all body shape, and you will look good naked if you get toned!

If you do all this right then a flat stomach will come naturally in time. Getting a flat tummy is really all about eating well and exercising properly to burn off the fat and tone up the muscles. You do not need to perform exercises and amazing athletic skill, you just need to stick to the plan and work hard at it for as long as it takes.

You need to get more active in your daily routines

This is more than just doing regular exercise. Many of us become more and more sedentary as we grow older. It is important to just get more active in your every day life. I meet people who drive to the local shops instead of walk, even though they are only 10 minutes walk away, along a quite, rural path. I see people who drive their children to the local school even though it is only 5 minutes walk away. Usually they give an excuse like “it was a bit wet” or “I was going to the shops afterwards anyway“.

If this sounds like you then get out of these habits. Walk to the shops, walk your children to school, then walk back again before hopping in the car to go to the shops. Even if you have little need to get out of the house, do so. Go for a walk, wander around the shopping mall if need be, just get up off your feet and move.

Never give up, each day you will make a little progress in the right direction.

References

  • “Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome” by Sharon S Elliott, Nancy L Keim, Judith S Stern, Karen Teff and Peter J Havel. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 2002. Abstract: http://www.ajcn.org/content/76/5/911.short
  • “A Critical Examination of the Evidence Relating High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Gain” by Richard A. Forshee, Maureen L. Storey, David B. Allison, Walter H. Glinsmann, Gayle L. Hein, David R. Lineback, Sanford A. Miller, Theresa A. Nicklas, Gary A. Weaver & John S. White. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Volume 47, Issue 6, 2007. Abstract: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408390600846457
  • Diet, nutrition and the prevention of excess weight gain and obesity” by BA Swinburn, I Caterson, JC Seidell and WPT James. Public Health Nutrition: 7(1A), 123–146
  • Food for Thought“by Antigone Kouris. Low GI News. Accessed Oct. 2011.
15 Comments
  1. Thank you so much – this was so useful! Great tips instead of the usual rubbish you hear from magazines etc. I’m going to try to follow all the advice from now on to shift this stubborn bit of belly fat and hopefully be in better shape for the summer. Thanks again 🙂

  2. Like your down to earth advice- for weight loss people often promote temporary fixes (unfortunately quick and easy is what many are looking for on the internet) but these are only temporary. For a permanent solution often a lifestyle change is necessary.
    And there are no easy solutions to lose belly fat too besides sticking to proper nutrition and exercise.

  3. Depending on your starting weight, you may be able to lose a fair bit by just checking and cutting down on the cholesterol, fat and sugar contents of the food you’re eating. If you already do that, you could try eating the same stuff you’ve always eaten, but in slightly smaller portions. It’s amazing the difference that makes!

  4. Yes Tamanna, oats are the best breakfast cereal you can have. Slow release energy, full of goodness, not processed.

  5. Thankyou! Such great advice. However I do drink ALOT of fruit juice… If I cut this out and suddenly need some sugar what’s my best alternative?

  6. Hi,
    ur web page has lots of good advice, i have went from a size 8-12 since nov 2011 & i have been thissize size late jan 2012. I went though a phase of eating a full apple pie & using 2 tins of evapoeated milk! I swear ud have thought i was pregnant! I have put loads of weight on my breasts tummy thighs& bum….HELP ME PLEASE WITH SOME ADVICE. I DONT KOW IF U DO CALL BKS COS ID REALLY LIKE 2 SPK 2 SOME1, M.Sherlock

  7. Martine, you need to stop doing the things / eating the foods that caused you to gain weight. So no more apple pies and condensed milk. Eat healthy, exercise often, follow the advice in this article.

  8. if there’s one best weight loss mantra it’s “exercise, exercise, exercise.” Choose activities you enjoy and do them every day.

  9. hi ,
    your website is really helpful, and i was just wondering if you could give me some advice , im 14 , seriously overweight and i was wondering if you could recommend some healthy snack options for when im at school for example , fruits or nuts or something like that , anyway thanks for your time
    y.u x

  10. Hi Yasmin, the best snacks are really pieces of fruit, e.g. apple, banana or an orange. Easy to keep in a bag all day, healthy and good for you. What is most important is that you get more active and eat a balanced diet. Have a healthy breakfast every morning (oats are great, as are eggs) and eat a proper lunch or dinner too. When I was at school we did not snack, just had lunch and that was it.

  11. I agree with some of the context but about pasta, Excuse me if I am wrong but pasta is a slow realsing energy food and so it makes you fuller for longer, it’s not what you eat it’s the amount trust me.
    I never done a diet and stick to my basic 3 meals a day.
    When I was 12 I weighed 8 stone and then when I hit 15 I weighed 7.
    I suffered with belima becuase of silly yo yo diets and never got some of the foods I was meant to all food is good for you in some amounts more of other like I SAID IT’S NOT WHAT YOU EAT IT’S THE AMOUNT AND THIS IS COMING FROM A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD….. UK 🙂

  12. With reply to ‘unknown’ you are partially right – pasta is slow release BUT white pasta is a simple carb so basically it’s sugar. For a slow release good pasta you have to go for whole wheat otherwise you are not eating a complex carb. You are right however on the amount, amount is very important too 🙂

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