I’m constantly being asked “what are the best exercises to get abs?” I’m sorry, girls, but doing sit ups day in and day out will not give you the abs of your dreams. You’ve probably heard me say this a million times, but losing weight and achieving a fit and toned body cannot be achieved overnight - nor is it possible to spot reduce. It requires dedication to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. However, there are ways to give yourself a better chance at getting flat abs. Read on to find out a few things that you could be doing wrong when it comes to losing belly fat:
Not Getting Enough ZZ’s
Turns out that lack of shut eye is doing you more harm than just a grumpy attitude the next morning! When you’re lacking in sleep, your body can produce more grehlin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) and less leptin (the hormone that helps you to feel full). This means that you are generally more hungry and are less likely to feel full after our meals. I’m sure we can all relate to the feeling of not only being tired, but being hangry = not a great combo!
Solution? Try to aim to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night! Make it easier on yourself by staying away from caffeine late at night and turning off all electronic devices (such as your phone, TV, laptop) a few hours before bed. I also find that drinking a cup of herbal tea, such as chamomile, can also help you to sleep better!
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. It is normal to get stressed from time to time, and this isn’t always the worst thing! However, if you are constantly stressed and have high levels of cortisol in your body, it may make it more difficult for you to lose belly fat. This is because your body is always in ‘fight or flight’ mode and it may not have a chance to relax and digest your food properly.
Another point to take into consideration with stress is that many of us tend to eat more highly processed foods when we are stressed. If your idea of ‘comfort food’ is a big greasy burger, a block of chocolate or a packet of chips, then these foods may not be the best option if you’re wanting to lose belly fat.
Solution? I know this one can be super hard to overcome, but actively try to destress your life! Find things that calm you down when you are feeling anxious or in a bad mood. These can be things such as meditation, going for a long walk, talking to friends or family, or simply taking some time out to read a book or watch a movie. Try not to reach for food when you are stressed, but instead find more positive ways to deal with this stress.
You’re Just Not Doing the Right Type of Training
Many people think of ‘cardio’ as soon as they think of weight or fat loss. While steady state cardio (such as walking, running or cycling) can most certainly help to burn calories and lead to fat loss, if done on its own, it might not necessarily be the most effective way of doing reducing belly fat!
Other types of training, such as HIIT and resistance training, can provide you with an “afterburn” effect. This means that your body may continue to burn fat in the hours following your workout. Don’t be afraid to lift weights, girls! You will be surprised at how much this can help you to achieve the toned body and flat abs you are after.
Solution? This doesn’t mean that you should only do HIIT and resistance training, but instead try to incorporate a mix of these exercises in your weekly workout plan. Not only can mixing up your workout routine help to give you better results, but it can also make it much more exciting for you!
You’re Just Training Abs
If you are one of those people who eats healthy and only train abs, you may find it’s taking you longer to lose belly fat than expected! Hate to break it to you, but it is not actually possible to spot reduce! What I mean is — just doing ab exercises will not give you abs. The only way to lose ‘belly fat’ is to lose fat from every area in your body. This means you need to ditch your “ab only” workout routines and find ones that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Compound exercises (such as squats, lunges and push ups) can do a much better job at this than isolation exercises (bicep curls, calf raises or sit ups).
Solution? Find a resistance workout routine that targets ALL areas of your body, not just your abs! If you need somewhere to start, try my Sweat With Kayla app, which has 28 minute resistance workouts that target all areas of your body. Keep at it and you will find this can be a great way to reduce belly fat. I really want you girls to remove the whole ‘spot reducing’ concept from your thoughts as it cannot be done!
You’re Eating Too Many Highly Processed Foods
Whilst they may taste good, fatty foods such as chips, chocolate, and deep-fried foods can be high in saturated and trans (bad) fats. In comparison to protein and carbohydrates, fats have a weaker effect on satiety (feeling “full” after you’ve eaten). This can make it super easy to overeat these types of foods, and why a lot of the time you can’t ‘just stop at one’. Snacking on these every so often may not seem so bad to you, but if you are serious about losing belly fat, you may want to consider how often you actually eat them.
Solution? Steer clear from fatty, highly processed foods, which (if eaten in excess) may keep you from your goal of a flat stomach. Instead, consume good fats from foods such as fish (salmon is my fave!), nuts, seeds and avocados. Even though eating good fats can be far better than eating bad ones, it is still important that you eat these in healthy, balanced amounts to help achieve your health and fitness goals.
Remember that achieving a flat stomach isn’t going to be something that happens overnight. It will take a lot of dedication and hard work, but trust me, you CAN DO IT! Don’t give up, be patient with yourself and your body! Everyone is different so don’t compare your journey with anyone else's. Instead, focus on how far YOU have come!
Love, Kayla xx