How to Get Rid of Lower Belly Fat

Woman doing a crunch
Getty Images/JGI/Tom Grill

Everyone has a unique body type and stores excess fat in different areas. But there's one common area that many people seem to struggle with: the lower belly. No matter how much they exercise, they just can't get rid of it.

Although belly fat can be frustrating, there are some very good reasons why we store excess fat in this area. Understanding the biology of your body and other contributing factors will help you accept the things you cannot change and shift your focus to attainable health and fitness goals.

Causes of Lower Belly Fat

People tend to store an extra layer of fat in their lower belly due to age, body type, and other factors.

  • Genetics: Genes determine body type and that controls how body fat is distributed. For example, an apple-shaped body tends to store more fat around the belly, while a pear-shaped body will tend to store more fat in the hips and thighs.
  • Menopause: The hormonal changes of menopause can lead to an increase in abdominal fat. As estrogen decreases, the body responds by redistributing fat.
  • Lifestyle: Diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management all play an important role in how and where the body stores fat. The more stressed you are, the more likely your body is to store fat in your belly. Likewise, the more sleep-deprived you are, the greater your risk for obesity and other health conditions.

How to Lose Belly Fat

Many people perform abdominal exercises with the hopes of getting a flat belly. Unfortunately, spot reduction of fat in one area of the body just doesn't work. The body actually draws energy from the entire body during exercise, not just from the part you're working.

So, if ab exercises won't do the trick, what does? The short answer is that in order to lose belly fat, you have to lose fat overall. Even if you do that, there's no guarantee that it will come off your belly. The following strategies may reduce overall body fat.

A Healthy, Balanced Diet

Following a balanced diet that adheres to your recommended daily number of calories is essential for fat loss. Choose nutrient-dense whole foods over processed foods or foods containing refined sugar.

  • Make small changes every day instead of trying to change everything at once.
  • Monitor portion sizes to avoid overeating and consuming more calories than you're burning.
  • Keep a food log in which you write down everything you eat or drink.
  • Replace energy-dense foods with healthier choices; fruits and veggies will fill you up and provide you with more essential nutrients and fiber than chips or cookies.
  • Use a recipe analyzer to determine how many calories you eat each day.

For more guidance, try using a meal plan that calculates your calories for you.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Regular cardiovascular exercise in your target heart rate zone can help you burn fat. Beginners might start with two to three days of cardio a week. Try brisk walking for about 20 to 30 minutes, gradually increasing your time each session.

Intermediate or advanced exercisers should aim for some type of activity most days of the week for 30 to 90 minutes at a variety of intensities. Doing at least one high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout a week can help target stubborn fat.

Strength Training

Combined with cardio, strength training one to three non-consecutive days a week can promote fat loss. Lifting weights builds lean muscle tissue, which can boost your metabolism to burn more body fat.

If you're new to exercise, try this strength training program for beginners and gradually increase your intensity over time. In addition, this 12-week weight loss program includes both cardio and strength training workouts and is a great place to get started.

Remember that healthy lifestyle habits like managing your stress and getting enough quality sleep can also help with fat loss.​

A Word From Verywell

Even if you start to lose fat, there's no guarantee you'll lose it from your lower belly. Your body decides when, where, and how much fat you'll lose.

Some people may always have some amount of belly fat. Just stay focused on what you can control—what you eat, how much you exercise, and how healthy your lifestyle is.

Be consistent with your workouts and nutrition plan and allow your body to naturally respond. More often than not, it's those stubborn areas where the fat comes off last. Remember to have patience with yourself and appreciate your body for its uniqueness.

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11 Sources
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