As a guy approaching 40 I’ve become well aware of my slowing metabolism. Even though I’m relatively fit it’s become harder and harder to keep fat from accumulating around my mid section.
I have however worked hard to find ways to kill my belly fat and keep it off. Don’t be fooled, I don’t eat like a bird and workout 7 days a week. Like most guys I love great food and craft beer and would not want to deprive myself of such pleasures in exchange for 6 pack abs. But, if I’m going to indulge myself from time to time I need to stay strict and live by some powerful fat burning rules.
For those of you in “the same boat”, I give you…51 Rules for Killing Your Belly Fat:
Rule #1 – Watch Your Carbs
If you’re like me you absolutely love carbs. I could live off of bread and pasta for the rest of my life. Unfortunately I’m not 18 years old anymore and all these carbs simply add to my belly.
Definitely not as bad as sugars (see below), consuming too many carbs throughout the week can definitely hinder weight loss. Cutting out carbs all together is not the answer. You’ll need to maintain a good balance of carbs, proteins and healthy fats to ensure you’re not overloading on foods like pasta, breads and other baked goods.
If you truly want to trim your fat you’ll need to cut most carbs out of your diet. It won’t be easy, but once you get used to cutting down on carb calories you’ll find it easier to maintain. One trick I use that works well is it to ensure I eat the bulk of my carbs just before a workout. That way I use the energy from the carbs during the workout so they are not stored and converted to fat later.
Rule #2 – Cut Out Processed Sugar
If you only followed this one rule (depending on your current body weight and composition) you would likely see amazing results in just a few weeks. Sugars can not only lead to additional body fat increase they can contribute to significant negative health consequences. When changing my diet early on in my journey I found this to be one of the most challenging rules to follow. However after a few weeks of cutting out processed sugars I started loosing the constant cravings and found that I simply didn’t miss any of the sweet treats I once used to crave.
Rule #3 – Get Enough Protein in Your Diet
Depending on your fitness level and daily activity the amount of protein required to sustain physical functions will be between .5 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Helpful if spread out during the day, intake of healthy proteins such as lean chicken, soy, whey and other sources can not only keep your appetite at bay, it will ensure your muscle have the building blocks to stay strong. Throwing in a few protein shakes between meals when you feel like grabbing for the carbs is a great way to keep your diet balanced.
Rule # 4 – Drink Lots of Water
Drinking lots of water will not only keep you hydrated during and after your long workout it’s also been scientifically proven to help with fat loss. A few rules of water consumption to ensure to adhere to each day: make sure to always drink a big glass of water in the morning. Never leave the house without doing so. When at work, make sure to always have a full bottle of water to sip on. Bring your water bottle to the gym during your workouts and make sure to double up on some water right after your workout.
Rule #5 – Eat Bright Foods
Actually backed by real science, this rule is simple to follow as all you need to do it pick fruits and veggies that are bright in color. Brightly colored foods (mostly fruits and vegetables) back a huge amount of important vitamins and minerals that aid in weight loss. Not only that, but they do so without adding any unnecessary calories. Be careful though, this rules is best followed with vegetables. Fruits are also very healthy, but they do contain a fair amount of sugar, so don’t overdo it.
Rule #6 – Cut Out Alcohol
I know, I love beer too. However unfortunately the consumption of beer and other alcohols can have a significant impact on your belly fat. Drinks like beer add empty calories to your system that eventually turn back into belly fat. I’m not advocating cutting out beer and alcohol all together, but if you want to see those beautiful abs during the summer you’ll need to ease up on the cold ones.
Rule #7 – Eat Recommended levels of Fiber
Eating foods high in fiber help you in a few ways. First, eating foods high in fiber such as vegetable and whole wheat foods can help with digestion and regularity. Second, eating fibrous foods such as vegetables helps you feel full and avoids stints of overeating. For a great list of foods high in dietary fiber click here.
Rule #8 – Avoid Boredom Cravings
I struggle a lot with cravings. When I’m looking for something to do (which is not very often) or simply working at my desk, I consistently feel the need to snack. Understanding that this craving is simply a factor of habit it should be relatively easy to overcome. I heard something a few weeks ago that really made sense. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you probably don’t need a snack. This has worked well for me lately. When I get a craving I ask myself if I should have an apple. In most cases I’m simply craving something sweet or salty and not something healthy like an apple.
Rule #9 – Eat your Veggies
Veggies have 2 great advantages. First veggies are very healthy as they provide the body with tons of nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary to properly fuel your body. Second, they fill you right up without adding unnecessary calories. It can sometimes be a chore to eat your veggies, but make an effort to add it to your daily food diet and you won’t be disappointed.
Rule #10 – Don’t Snack Before Bed
I know, this can be tough. After a long evening workout it’s difficult not to splurge on a tasty snack before you dip into bed. However, if you want to ensure you maintain the benefits of the workout you just performed avoid the temptation for that late night snack. If you absolutely need to eat make sure it’s something low carb/sugar and relatively light and high in protein.
Rule #11 – Try the Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet is definitely not for everyone, however those that have the discipline to stick to the diet can benefit greatly and lose a serious amount of fat quickly. The “keto” diet involves eating a low carb/sugar diet until the point where your body starts to use a significant amount of your stored fat as it’s primary energy source. For those that are interested, the folks over at ruled.me have prepared a great instructional on the diet.
Rule #12 – Cut Out Junk Food
This can be a tricky habit to curb. The more you workout, the hungrier you get and the more likely you are to cheat with junk food. The way I deal with junk food cravings is simple. I try to replace the junk craving with something a little less junky. For instance, if I’m craving chips, I’ll have salted nuts, if I’m craving something sweet I’ll have a nice glass of lemon water an stevia.
Rule #13 – Quit Smoking
This one does seem quite obvious, however if you’re still smoking it’s time to quit for good. I won’t list out all the negative health affects of smoking (should be obvious by now), but take it from someone who smoked for many years in their 20s. It won’t be easy to quit, but it will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
Rule #14 – Drink Coffee
I wouldn’t overdue it on the coffee, but coffee can be a great addition to the fat burning tool box. In times of intermediate fasting or simply before a workout coffee (or caffeine) can provide a nice little energy boast without the addition of unnecessary calories. Black coffee would be ideal, however if you like your coffee sweet make sure to add artificial sweeteners like stevia instead of actual sugar.
Rule #15 – Try Energy Drinks
You want to keep energy drinks to a minimum so that you don’t start using them as a “crutch”, however energy drinks such as Monster or Redbull can be a great source of short term energy on low calories days when you need to workout. Just make sure that if you’re going to grab an energy drink before working out that it’s sugar free. More energy drinks contain a fair amount of sugar that will add empty calories to your diet.
Rule #16 – Try Supplements
Supplements are not for everyone, but if you’re inclined to try to supplement your diet I can suggest some ideas that have worked for me. I find that using Creatine during phases of intense workout and muscle building helps with my endurance and recovery. Also supplementing with BCAAs can help speed up recovery and maintain energy. Some people are tempted to use appetite suppressants to help with cravings. I would strongly suggest not getting in the habit of using these to help with your hunger. You’ll need to be disciplined in your diet and you don’t want to have to rely on a pill to curb cravings.
Exercise and Fitness
Rule #17 – Lift Weights
One of the biggest misconceptions for maximum fat loss is that performing cardio exercises is the only key to proper fat burning. Although cardio can be a great tool for fat loss, weight lifting can help build muscles that will aid in burning calories throughout the day even when you’re not exercising. Studies have shown that those with a great muscle mass will burn a higher percentage of calories and body fat than those with lower muscle mass.
Rule #18 – Kill your Legs
You’re legs (hamstrings and quads) are some of the biggest muscles in the body. By working out larger muscle groups you not only increase the amount of fat and calories you burn per workout you also increase the amount of testosterone in your system. Higher testosterone has been shown to aid in additional fat loss burning in active individuals. Leg day can be brutal, but never skip leg day, or you’ll lose out on some significant fat burning workouts.
Rule #19 – Do High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training or HIIT for short is a popular way of getting your cardio in a very efficient manner. Not only does HIIT allow you to burn more calories per hour than conventional cardio exercises the “after burn” affect of doing HIIT will help you burn additional fat calories hours after your workout is done.
Rule #20 – Do Tabata Training
Similar to HIIT discussed above Tabata training is a more specific form of interval training. Possibly the most intense form of interval training the Tabata protocol involves working out in 20 second intervals followed by a 10 second rest period. The real key to the protocol is to ensure you’re going at your absolute maximum capacity for these 20 seconds. Anyone who has experimented with Tabata understands how grueling it can be. However, if you can manage to hustle through the workout the benefit can be sizable.
Rule #21 – Do Sprints
Not something that most people think about when developing a plan for fat loss, performing sprints on a regular basis can provide as a catalyst for maximum fat burning. Minute per minute sprinting can burn a significant amount more calories and fat then traditional running or cycling methods. You won’t be sprinting every day as part of your workouts, however incorporating a few sprinting sessions a week can speed up your calorie burning goals.
Rule #22 – Try Crossfit
I know a lot of people like to criticize this “movement” but if done properly CrossFit can be an amazing way to burn calories fast. Do make sure you get great instruction and start slow. There’s nothing worse that getting hurt working out and spending weeks rehabbing to get back into the gym
Rules #23 – Try Long Runs
Some argue as to the fat burning advantages of long runs versus intense short bursts of activity. That being said, any exercise is beneficial and if you prefer to run 5k to 10k instead of killing yourself with Tabata sprints be my guest and enjoy the long run. Just remember, running long distances on it’s own won’t help you lose belly fat. Continuing to change up your workouts and maintaining intensity will be your biggest weapons against your belly fat.
Rule #24 – Don’t Forget to Stretch
Although stretching won’t necessarily help you lose body fat, the habit of stretching will help you avoid injury and keep your workouts on track. If you get injured and as a result are not able to workout, you can probably bet your fat loss goals will be extended significantly. Therefore, indirectly, stretching will help ensure proper weight loss.
Rule #25 – Work on Your Abs
By now, we all know that working out your abs for hours a day will do little for belly fat loss. That being said, you should never neglect your core. Having a strong core will not only help with any other exercises that help you burn fat, once you do burn the fat around your midsection you’ll have some lovely abs to show for your hard work.
Rule #26 – Change up your Workouts
Your body will certainly start getting used to the same old workouts and you’ll likely start seeing declining results. Keep your body guessing and continue to change up your workouts. If you’re used to hitting the weights each day throw in some HIIT or intense cardio. And if you’re a cardio freak grab some weights and get to work!
Rule #27 – Try Intermediate Fasting
Although this may not be an option for some that train I’ve found intermediate fasting to be a great way to shed some inches from my mid section. Essentially, intermediate fasting is fasting for a certain amount of hours per day and eating for a predetermined “feeding period”. There are many different IF protocols and you should choose one that fits your schedule. Personally I find fasting from 6pm (right after dinner) to 10am the next morning fits my schedule just right. I get all my eating done during the day after 10am and I’m able to have a great dinner. This allows me to workout after 10am or even after 6pm if needed.
Rule #28 – Do Cardio on an Empty Stomach
Not everyone is an advocate of this strategy and I find it quite difficult to do any type of exercise or cardio on an empty stomach, however I do know some that swear by the benefits of empty stomach cardio. The basic ideas is, if you workout on an empty stomach you’ll be burning existing fat instead of using energy recently consumed from your last meal. Give it a try and see if it’s something you’ll want to add to your weekly routine.
Rule #29 – Get Professional Help
For those of you that can afford a personal trainer the money can be well worth the investment. It can be difficult to motivate yourself every day to hit the gym and eat the right foods. Having someone professional to guide your journey and keep you accountable can make a huge difference. If it’s in the budget, hiring a personal training can help you reach your goals much quicker.
Rule #30 – Get your Spouse Involved
I personally think this one rule can be the most effective way to stay on course. If you and your spouse are striving towards a common goal it will be much easier for both of you to accomplish your respective goals. It doesn’t necessarily mean your spouse needs to be working towards fat loss, however if he/she is also actively pursuing something fitness related it will be easier to stick to your guns.
Rule #31 – Do Drop Sets
This is a great way to incorporate both a strength and cardio session in one. Drop sets are a specific type of weight training protocol where you perform a specific amount of reps (10 to 12) per set dropping weights each set in order to reach the rep number. When done properly and without very much rest in between sets these workouts can help burn a significant amount of calories per workout.
Rule #32 – Do Supersets
Similar to drop sets explained above, supersets involve moving from one weight training exercise to another, but keeping the rep range and weights relatively constant. There are many ways to perform supersets, but keep it simple and choose exercises that compliment each other or use different muscle groups.
For instance, I like to incorporate the following supersets into my workouts:
- Pull ups/bench press
- Dips/Bicep curls
Rule #33 – Stand at Your Desk
This won’t necessarily help burn lots of calories, however if you’re already sitting at your office desk for 6 to 8 hours a day, you might as well stand and burn a few extra calories. Studies have shown the ill health affects of sitting for long periods of time and now many companies have developed great standing desk solutions. If you have a regular office job that requires many hours of sitting, you may want to seriously consider investing in a standing desk or alternative solution.
Rule #34 – Do Some YouTube Workouts
When you start getting bored with your workouts one of the best remedies is to try something new and fresh. One of the best places to get great ideas for fat burning workouts is YouTube. Hundreds of awesome (and challenging) workouts can be found on the site. It’s simply up to you search and conquer!
Rule #35 – Workout Twice in One Day
Who says you should only need to workout once a day? If you really want to burn off that midsection you’ll need to burn off those unwanted calories. I often find myself squeezing in a second workout in the day if my schedule allows. Sometimes I’ll wake up early for a run and then get in my afternoon workout or simply hit the treadmill after work even though I’ve already worked out during the day.
Rule #36 – Go Out in Nature
You definitely do not need equipment to get a great workout. Some of the best workouts I’ve had have been outside surrounded by the beauty of nature. Go for a challenging hike, do sprints at the local track or get in a great bar workout at the playground.
Rule #37 – Hit the Pool
I’m not the greatest swimmer in the world, but I do find swimming to be a great workout. In times of injury rehab swimming can be a great way to burn calories while avoiding any unwanted body impact.
Rule #38 – Workout with the Kids
Moms and Dads can find it challenging to carve out time to workout. As a father or 2 I definitely understand this challenge. However we often make weak excuses for why we don’t work out. If you have a few kids in tow don’t fret. You’ll be able to get a great workout simply by taking the kids to the park. I’ve had some of the best workouts of my life at the jungle gym. Here are some of my main staples when I take the kids to the park:
- Pull ups
- Squat jumps
- Use your imagination!
Rule #39 – Get a Massage
Getting a massage will not directly impact the amount of muscle your gain or belly fat you burn but it will definitely get you relaxed and ready for the next few workouts. Regular massages with a trained Registered Massage Therapist can yield great benefits to your body, mind and overall spirit.
Mental Aspect and Preparation
Rule #40 – Treat Yourself
Losing belly fat is not all about starving yourself and working out 7 days a week (although that would result in belly fat loss). You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t treat yourself throughout the process. Plan for some “cheat meals” throughout the week or even one full cheat day. Don’t fool yourself however, because these cheats will stunt your progress. But they will also give you energy and the will power to push forward.
If you are going to cheat on your nutrition, make sure to combine it with a great pre or post workout to help burn those extra calories.
Rule #41 – Find a Partner
In addition to working towards your goal with your spouse (as outlined above), it’s always beneficial to find a workout partner. Been accountable to someone for specific workouts will keep you from skipping the gym. If you know you’ll be standing someone up on a pre-planned workout you’ll be a lot less likely to miss important workouts.
Not only will having a partner help you get to the gym but you’ll both be able to push each other further through the workout when you get into the gym. Find a partner and get in there!
Rule #42 – Follow your Role Models
We all lose motivation along the way. One of the best ways of regaining some of this motivation is to review what others have achieved. If you look up to someone that has achieved and continues to achieve what you’re looking to accomplish follow them on social media to remind yourself it can be done. Following people like the Rock and Kevin Hart on Instagram is a great way to get your drive back and a huge incentive to get back in the gym.
These guys are undoubtedly more busy than you and they find time to grind it out in the gym.
Rule #43 – Get Enough Sleep
Many people underestimate the amount of sleep they require and often do not get enough sleep to properly rest and repair their body. If you’re working out on a regular basis you’ll need to ensure you get enough sleep every night. Most people actually need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. Don’t short yourself and get the sleep your body deserves.
Rule #44 – Don’t Cheat Too Much on Weekends
It can all go wrong on the weekends. You’ve been super disciplined all week, sticking to your diet and working out like a machine. Friday night hits and you don’t stop eating and drinking until Sunday morning. You simply can’t let this happen or you’ll give up all the gains you’ve worked for all week.
I too find this tough. But, I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I’ll choose one of the nights to let loose and really enjoy myself. This means breaking down and having one “cheat night”, not 3 cheat nights. Also make sure to minimize the affect of your cheat night by working out hard that day and keeping your calories low during the first part of the day.
Rule #45 – Buy Some New Clothes
Buying new clothes alone won’t necessarily help you lose weight, however it may help motivate your to keep going. If you’ve purchased something that will look great on you once you’re mid section is a lot more trim you’ll want to keep pushing through to your goals. Don’t be afraid of loading up your closet with new clothes and before your know it you’ll be wearing them with pride.
Rule #46 – Write in a Journal
Writing in a journal is definitely not for everyone, but I do believe that those that do write down and track their progress are a lot more focused and likely to achieve their goals. I find by writing out my progress I’m continually reminded of my path and why I’m grinding it out day after day.
Outlining your process in a manual journal, on a blog or simply on your phone are few ways you can track your progress.
Rule #47 – Review your Goals Each Morning
This one has helped me stick to my most important objectives and goals for some time now. I didn’t always review my goals but since I’ve started the difference has been significant. I actually started reviewing my goals after watching an interview with UFC fighter Urijah Faber. He mentioned that every day he would wake up to a single piece of paper pasted to his wall right beside his bed with a list of short and long term goals.
Rule #48 – Be Accountable to Other People
Some would suggest that you should do not let other people know of your ambitions because if you don’t reach your goals you’ll look like a failure. I definitely think there’s something to be said for the “under promise and over perform” strategy, however some may find it beneficial and even motivating to have others’ know his/her ultimate goals. If you think it will help let people know what you’re looking to achieve and keep them informed on your progress.
Rule #49 – Develop Fat Loss Goals
Without clear goals it will be very difficult to reach any real success in weight loss and overall fitness. Developing a fat loss goal can be as simple as writing down the goal on a piece of paper and reviewing your progress each day. For example, your goal may be “I will be 175 pounds by the end of May”, or “I want to be below 15% bodyfat by the end of May” (more difficult to measure). Whatever goal you set for yourself make sure that it adheres to a properly set goal structure. The goal must be specific, attainable, measurable, relevant and timely. For more information on goal setting click here.
Rule #50 – Take Progress Pictures
Taking pictures of your body as you progress through your weight loss can help you visualize your success. You’ll be able to see where you started and how far you’ve come. For added benefit (definitely not for everyone) post your progress pics online for some community feedback. Be warned however, not everyone will be supportive of your goals, but don’t let that stop you!
Rule #51 – Don’t Give Up!
Of course, rule #51 is the most important rule of them all. If you want to eliminate that belly fat and expose those beautiful abs you’ll need to stick with the plan. You’ll have days where you fail at implementing even one of the rules above. Don’t let this discourage you and definitely don’t let this stop you from reaching your goals. Put these failures behind you and start the next day strong. We are not judged by how many times we fall, but rather how many times we rise from failure.
Dropping that unwanted belly fat will not be easy, but if you follow the 51 rules outlined above your chances of success will be improved dramatically. Stay on course and hustle through. The finished product will certainly be worth the hard work and effort.
If you have your own belly burning rules I would love to hear them. Please add them in the comment section below so everyone can benefit!
Keep up the hustle!