The average person can look down and see if they have belly fat to deal with, but not often are they getting the same view from the back. Along with belly fat comes back fat; another stubborn area many target (and grow frustrated by) while trying to get in shape. The next questions are – why does this happen and how to lose belly and back fat.
The same contributing factors that cause belly fat also cause back fat. The atrophy of muscles in the lower back, a lack of physical activity, hormone changes, sleep deprivation, and health conditions affecting metabolism may all contribute to fat accumulation around the belly, the back, or – most often – both.
How To Lose Belly And Back Fat With These Changes
Spending regular hours in the gym may not be enough to target belly and back fat alone. These stubborn areas of subcutaneous and visceral fat require a lifestyle change to tackle effectively. Without dedication to these lifestyle changes, a person may find their belly and back fat returns even more quickly than it left.
Improve Diet And Nutrition
One of the key ways to effectively target belly and back fat is to improve diet and make sound nutritional changes. Foods containing excess sugars, carbohydrates, or unhealthy fats are some of the biggest contributors to stubborn pockets of fat on the back or belly.
This does not mean a person has to entirely eliminate sugars, carbs, or fats from their diet, but they should be restricted to foods that are rich in other nutritional values. For instance, the sugar and carbohydrates found in a candy bar are not contributing anything beneficial to the body, while those found in a banana come along with key vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
According to The Mayo Clinic, food choices to eliminate belly and back fat should focus on plant-based wholesome foods and lean proteins. Chicken, fish, and low-fat dairy products are excellent lean sources of protein and represent a part of a fully balanced meal when combined with fresh vegetables and whole grains.
Saturated fats found in processed meat or dairy products should be avoided, while moderate monosaturated fats found in nuts or vegetable oils are encouraged in a belly fat busting diet.
Nutritional choices represent one of the most important lifestyle changes a person can make when learning how to lose belly and back fat.
According to studies conducted by the CDC, 80% of American adults do not meet the recommended aerobic and strength training guidelines for daily exercise. Leading a sedentary lifestyle has been directly linked to an increase in both subcutaneous and visceral fat around the belly and back. Not only does exercise work to burn fat all over the body, but it also strengthens the muscles in the back and the abdomen at the same time.
Like nutritional changes, shifting to an active lifestyle from a sedentary one should be considered a permanent life change rather than a temporary one. In one study, it was found that those who continued aerobic exercise for 1 year after losing the weight were able to prevent regaining fat, while those who did not continue aerobic exercise saw an increase in stomach fat of around 25-38%.
Current recommendations suggest that most adults should be engaging in around 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity or around 1.5 hours of vigorous activity each week along with regular strength training.
Those looking into how to lose belly and back fat safely may be left puzzled if their efforts in exercise and nutritional changes aren’t bringing the results they’re looking for quickly enough. This is where stress may come into play.
Cortisol, or the stress hormone, may be a contributing factor to the buildup of fat around the back and belly. This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands, and its primal job was to warn humans of potential dangers while giving them the energy they’d need to react via a “fight or flight” response.
In modern times, the acute trigger of cortisol in response to a threat is far less common. Instead, the average person is experiencing chronic low-grade stress and a chronic production of cortisol throughout the body.
Because cortisol production’s original role was to prepare the body to fight or flee, it tells the body to store fat that may be needed for energy later on. If a person was faced with a bear in the forest, their adrenal glands would start flooding the body with cortisol.
That cortisol would store fat and provide energy for that person to either fight the bear or flee to safety in the opposite direction. Few people share the same stresses as their ancestors in modern times. There is no “fight or flight” against traffic, a surprise meeting, a long commute, or a busy schedule, but the body still views these stressful situations as a reason to react.
On top of triggering belly fat storage in the body, an overproduction of cortisol due to chronic stress can cause unpleasant feelings both mentally and physically. These unpleasant feelings may lead a person to turn to “comfort foods” high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates, leading into a vicious cycle against fat buildup on the belly and back.
Effective stress fighting strategies like meditation are a simple answer to how to lose belly and back fat safely. According to the American Psychological Association, mindful meditation is a proven effective combatant against chronic stress and its effects on the body.
Get Better Sleep
While one may think that sleep would count as sedentary time, it’s actually a crucial time for the body. In a 2017 study conducted by Sleep Health, a direct link was found between the quality of a person’s sleep and their likelihood of developing obesity.
A lack of sleep may cause a person to turn to unhealthy comfort foods to stave off the negative feelings of exhaustion, it can lead to increased sugar intake in an effort to gain energy, it may lead to an increase in hunger hormone production, and exhaustion can decrease motivation to partake in physical activity.
When formulating a plan to address how to lose belly and back fat safely, a consistent sleep schedule is as important as dietary and activity lifestyle changes.