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Lose Belly Fat

So you want to lose belly fat and flatten your stomach? I'm glad you found my Site then! This is because most people go about getting a flatter stomach all wrong. Doing ab exercises can actually make your stomach bigger! Fad diets and not eating enough can make you gain weight in the long run. What you really need to do is have a combination of better nutrition and being more active that leads to you burning more calories than you take in, and continue to burn calories. Here's a quick overview.

What You Should NOT Do:

  • Eat too Little
  • Fad Diets (like Atkins)
  • Excessive Ab Exercises
  • Ignore Weight Training
  • Be too Concerned with Weight Loss

What You SHOULD Do:

  • Include Weight Training
  • Cardio
  • CORE/Stabilization Exercises
  • Make Healthier Food Choices
  • Spread out Your Daily Calories

What You Should NOT Do to Lose Belly Fat

We'll start with what you should NOT do to lose belly fat, as it will give you a better understanding of the things you will then need to do to flatten your belly.

Don't Eat too Little/Fad Diets
Yes, you should be more conscious of what you eat (you'll see more below), but you shouldn't take it to extremes. Not getting enough nutrients (i.e., not eating enough), can actually cause you to gain more weight in the long run. Sure, it may help in the short-term, but overall it is no good. If you deprive your body of nutrients, then "survival mechanisms" in your body will kick in, and your body will most likely start to store anything you eat as fat! Your body adapts to you not getting the proper amount of nutrition, so, thinking it may not get this kind of nutrition in the near futuer, it will start to save anything you eat for later instead of burning the calories.

Next some of these "fad diets," like Atkins, can also cause problems in the long run. One of my best friends did this and eventually ended up on the emergency with thyrouid problems. He also found out he had an inability to digest carbohydrate (even healthy carbs like fruits). Now, this is pure speculation on my part, but considering he didn't touch a carb for a year, it seems this may have contributed to his problems (though not the sole cause).

Going back to what I said earlier...he starved himself of a nutrient and his body adapted, storing carbs that it wasn't used to getting for the future. I am very happy to say, though, that he did recover and is doing very well. After fixing his medical problems, he had much more success losing weight and maintaining it...and doing it while enjoying all kinds of foods with a more balanced diet.

Now, I do want to say, however, that I'm mostly speaking of extremes here. Reducing your carbs, for a short period of time, can help you to lose belly fat. I'm not a huge fan of this, though, as carbs are your first form of energy, and not getting enough can make it more difficult to become more active (which is the healthiest and most effective way for results that last).

Vitamin World

Don't use Excessive Ab Exercises
For as long as I can remember, I've seen all kinds of commercials and infomercials for all kinds of ab machines. Try to read the fine print on some of these ads, though, especially when they're talking about results. Nearly all say something like, "when combined with a balanced diet and rigorous exercise routine" and "results not typical."

Ab exercises do give you stronger abs, but they don't burn very many calories. You've got to burn calories to lose belly fat and reveal those abs. Ab exercises alone simply won't do that for you. In fact, ab exercises can actually make your stomach bigger! Think about lifting weights, like bicep curls. You contract your muscle, which tears it down so that it builds itself back up bigger and stronger. If you do bicep curls, then your becip muscles will eventually get bigger.

The same is true for your abs, if you do a bunch of exercises that make you tear down your ab muscles, they're going to build themselves up stronger, and bigger. It's even worse when you're not losing any belly fat, because you can't see your stomach getting bigger under the fat. Your ab muscles growing under your fat can just push your stomach out even more. Instead of getting a flatter stomach, you've effectively just done the opposite.

I could honestly go on and on about this because I experienced this first hand. In college, I started to get out of shape, so since my stomach was the probem area I did a ton of ab exercises. Eventually, without a shirt on you could tell that I had abs, but...with a shirt on, my stomach actually stuck out more than my chest (effectively making me look fatter than I actually was).

The bottom line is ab exercises alone won't flatten your stomach and could actually make it bigger. You need to burn calories, and ab exercises don't burn that many when compared to most other exercises, nor do your ab muscles. Once you lose belly fat, that is when you should use some ab exercises, but sparingly. All of this, especially the lack of calorie burning, is why you should not ignore weight training in your quest to lose belly fat.

Don't Ignore Weight Training
I'm going to go more into this when describing what you should do to lose belly fat, but I just wanted to point out that you shouldn't ignore this. Muscles actually burn more calories than anything else, so building muscle not only helps you while your working out to burn the calories during your workout, but also by increasing your metabolism and ability to continue to burn calories.

I'm not suggesting you go out and build bulky muscle, I should actually clarify that lean muscle mass burns more calories. I'm just saying not to rely only on cardio to lose belly fat and flatten your stomach. Using weight training will increase your results (and help you maintain them) a ton.

Don't be too Concerned with Weight Loss
All I'm saying here is don't watch the scale too much, especially just your weight. Muscle actually weighs more than fat, so you can lose belly fat and actually weigh more when you get in better shape. What you should be watching is your body fat percentage, with a body mass scale. Body mass scales can actually help you monitor your progress very effectively, especially if you follow my advice below and incorporate weight training into your routine. Since muscle weighs more, you'll want to know your body composition.

What You SHOULD do to Lose Belly Fat

Here's a quick reminder of things that you should be doing to flatten your belly.

The Finish Line
  • Include Weight Training
  • Cardio
  • CORE/Stabilization Exercises
  • Make Healthier Food Choices
  • Spread Out Your Daily Calories

Include Weight Training in Your Routine
Any physical activity is going to help you trim belly fat, but as I mentioned earlier, weiht training can actually give you the most effective, sustainable results. Exercises that work big muscle groups (not just big muscles, but big groups of muscles) burn a ton of calories. This is not only when you're performing them, but then these big muscle groups continue to burn calories for you in the future to sustain your fat loss. Since lean muscle mass helps you burn calories, you'll want to do some weight training to flatten your belly.

Here are some of the best weight training exercises that burn the most calories:
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Dead Lifts
  • Step Ups
  • Bench Press
  • Pull ups/Chin ups
  • Rows
  • Combo Exercises
  • COMING SOON!: Exercise Descriptions

    Cardio Although I keep stressing the importance of weight lifting, cardio exercise is also important in flattening your stomach. Any physical activity is going to help you because it burns calories when you're doing it, and it causes your body to continue to burn more calories when you've finished your exercise. So, when the goal is to burn more calories than you take in, of course cardio is going to help. It will also help with your weight training, to, though, in turn helping you lose belly fat even faster. Cardio increases your endurance, so it will help you endure your weight training. You'll be able to work harder during your weight training and see results even sooner.

    Of course, if you can, high-endurance sports (like basketball or soccer) will be your best calorie-burning exercise which helps you lose belly fat. If you're going to do your cardio on a machine, though, ellipticals offer the most calorie burning. Stair steppers and treadmills will offer better results than a bicycle as well. It all depends on what you like the most and what you're going to stick with. If the only thing you're going to do is bicycle that's fine. It's still very effective, especially if you push yourself harder.

    Core/Stabilization Exercises
    These are NOT ab exercises, but core exercises. In other words, these aren't going to be crunches, sit-ups, etc. Core exercises are exercises that make your core (which does include your abs) stronger to stabilize the rest of your body. The stronger your core is, the more effective anything else you do will be. If your core is week, then the rest of your body will be weaker because it doesn't have a good core (or base). Core exercises include things like planks, side planks, and stabilization exercises that you add to normal exercises with things like a balance ball, disc, etc.

    There is a whole section dedicated to core exercises on this site. Check it out HERE and incorporate them into your exercise routine (but don't make them your main focus).

    Make Healthier Choices
    Don't go out and starve yourself or do any fad diets, just make healthier choices. Also, be aware that some healthy choices can be made unhealthy. For example, a salad is a healthy option. But, if you drown it in Ranch (whether fat free or not), then it becomes unhealthy. Instead, put some oil and vinegar on it. So, instead of a burger, have a sandwich; instead of fries, have a salad; instead of a candy bar, some sweet fruit or berries.

    Generally you can make healthier choices fairly easily. Having something homemade is always going to be healthier than going out to eat (and cheaper). This is especially true for fast food. If you're going to have fast food, make sure to make the healthier choices (like choosing a bottle of water over soda). And I do want to reiterate that you should eat, even have a burger every once in a while, but limit your unhealthy choices and only have them in moderation.

    Here's a bulleted list of how you can lose belly fat with some healthier eating habits:

    • Drink more water (it helps keep you full)
    • Bring your lunch and snacks (avoid vending machines)
    • Go out less (eat more food you make yourself, even sandwiches)
    • Choose healthier options when you go out (salad vs. fries, water or tea vs. soda, etc.)
    • Have fresh fruit always available (something sweet to avoid too much candy)
    • Eat more meals throughout the day...

    Spread Your Calories Throughout the Day

    • Always have breakfast
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
    • Eat at least 6 meals/snacks per day...
      1. Breakfast
      2. Light Snack
      3. Lunch
      4. Light Snack
      5. Dinner/Supper
      6. Light Snack
    First off, you should ALWAYS eat something for breakfast. You don't have to sit down and have a big breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs, but make sure you eat something in the morning. It kickstarts your metabolism for the day (it breaks your fast), and helps you burn more calories throughout the day (helping you lose belly fat).

    You can have a breakfast bar, a piece of fruit (like a banana - it's a little more filling), or even a Carnation Instant Breakfast or any other "complete" breakfast bar or drink is great. Since I've just started lifting weights again, I have a Muscle Milk shake for breakfast along with a banana.

    You should also drink plenty of water throughout the day. For one, this will help with all of the physical activity you're doing to help flatten your belly. Second, it will help you to take in less calories throughout the day, because water helps keep you full. So, drinking plenty of water works numerous ways to help you lose belly fat.

    Finally, spread your meals throughout the day. Like drinking water, this will help to keep you full, and will also keep your matabolism up throughout the day. For example, I'll have my Muscle Milk and banana for breakfast, then something like some plain yogurt with bluberries around 10:30, lunch between noon and one, etc. Just try to snack throughout the day...and by "snack" I mean healthy things like nuts, fruits, plane yogurt, etc., not candy and chips.

    Athlete Nutrition: Healthier choices to help you lose belly fat.
    Core Exercises: Make ANY training more effective with a stronger core.

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