Muffin top. Belly pooch. Love handles. There are plenty of ways to describe extra belly fat, most of them with less-than-desirable nicknames. Everyone would love the secret of how to get rid of lower belly fat, females especially.
Whether you’ve struggled to lose belly fat after having kids, have recently hit menopause, or life (and cupcakes) have simply gotten in the way, most of us have dealt with carrying extra weight around our middle before.
However, if you want to get rid of lower belly fat for good, it’s not enough to try a few sit-ups and call it a day.
The hard truth is: you can’t spot reduce belly fat. If you want to lose fat, you have to lose it all over.
Getting rid of belly fat and sculpting the muscles underneath requires both changing your diet and ramping up your workouts. This article covers 9 helpful lifestyle and exercise tips to get rid of lower belly fat:
The Guide For How To Lose Lower Belly Fat
- Get 150 minutes of cardio per week
- Do HIIT 1-2 times per week
- Do ab-toning workouts
- Create a calorie deficit
- Increase protein and fiber intake
- Limit simple sugars and refined carbs
- Drink more water
- Minimize stress levels
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- The lower belly workout
1. Get 150 Minutes of Heart-Pumping Cardio Per Week
As we said above, if you want to lose belly fat, you have to lose weight all over. You have to shed your “extra layer” to see the muscles underneath. Cardio is a part of the weight-loss equation.
The CDC recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week, which can include anything from jogging, jumping rope, cycling, or a spin class. There is no one right way to raise your heart rate, so pick what you like to do.
The bottom line is: you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight (more to come on that below) so doing some cardio will help with that math equation.
The bonus is you will strengthen your heart muscle and your stamina. Since heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, taking care of your heart should be high on your self-care list for overall health and calorie burning.
To get started with cardio, try these 7 best cardio workouts for weight loss.
2. Fit in HIIT 1-2 Times Per Week
If you are willing to give HIIT a try as part of your cardio prescription, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a top choice for anyone looking to burn fat. HIIT helps burn fat and torch more calories in a shorter amount of time than other workouts.
Here’s how it works: You give maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. HIIT workouts train and condition both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This kind of exercise gets your heart rate up and improves your cardiovascular fitness level while burning more fat and calories in less time.
Consider HIIT your intense workouts, while your cardio workouts are more steady-state. You need a mix of both!
3. Do Ab-Toning Workouts
Like we said above, you can’t spot-reduce fat in any area of your body. However, you can absolutely work to tone specific areas by using specific exercises.
First things first: it’s important to understand the different types of abdominal muscles. To get rid of belly fat, you have to target all the muscles of your stomach, not just one. You need to do exercises that target the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and obliques.
The rectus abdominus muscle is that straight-down-the-middle muscle that, if strengthened enough, is where your “six-pack” shows up. The basic crunch is great for working this muscle but not the only worthy ab exercise.
You should also aim to strengthen your transverse abdominus, the muscle that sits deep and low in your belly. By taking time to strengthen this muscle properly, you are creating a built-in “corset” for your body that holds the abs in tight and protects your low back. Pilates is an example of a workout that can help you work your transverse abdominus. My favorite Pilates exercise to start with is a full-body roll-up.
Finally, you should also target your obliques, which are your side abdominals. They help you bend side to side, rotate right and left, and stabilize and protect your spine.
Your obliques have to work in harmony with all of your abdominal muscles to truly give you a tight tummy and a strong, stable back. Check out this Russian Twist exercise or side plank to work your obliques.
Note: If you are pregnant, consult your doctor to decide if it’s safe for you to do ab exercises. If you have recently given birth and have any abdominal wall separation, check out our 10-minute workout for Diastasis Recti to help you ease back into exercise. Also, read our article on how to ease back into abdominal work after a baby.
If you’re ready to start moving, jump to our ab-toning workout below!
4. Create a Calorie Deficit
It’s fairly straightforward: If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. This is what is referred to as a “calorie deficit”.
You can reduce calories by lowering your calorie intake, increasing physical activity, or a combination of both.
For most people, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for weight loss and unlikely to significantly affect your hunger or energy.
However, it should be noted that women generally should not consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day, and men no fewer than 1,500 calories.
Journaling about your food intake will help you get a sense of what you’re eating and the calories in each meal. If a journal isn’t your thing, try an app like MyFitnessPal.
A good tip to use when creating a calorie deficit with diet is to fill half of your plate with veggies—and the remaining parts with lean protein (salmon, chicken) and some healthy carbs (quinoa, rice.) This will help you with portion control.
For increasing physical activity, you’ll be more motivated if you pick something you like to do. I always suggest walking, especially for beginners, because most people are willing to try power walking.
Power walking doesn’t require a trip to the gym or a lot of extra time – it can burn up to 200 or more calories per 30-minute walk. The key to walking for weight loss is to walk fast. Walk like you are in an airport and late for a flight.
Just because these tips are simple, does not mean they are easy. Here are some tips to stay motivated during your weight loss journey.
5. Increase Protein and Fiber Intake
In order to lose weight, including from your lower belly, you should consume an adequate amount of fiber and protein.
Fiber has a wide range of benefits, including aiding weight loss. Some types of fiber slow the absorption of nutrients, allowing you to feel full longer, therefore consuming fewer calories throughout the day and helping achieve a deficit.
Men need between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day, and women need between 21 and 25 grams per day.
Some good sources of fiber include avocados, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Protein is made up of amino acids and helps feed and repair our muscles, among other parts of our body. However, it’s where you are getting your protein that matters most.
Choose good sources of animal protein, like fish, poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy. Vegetables also provide ample amounts of protein – look for dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
And don’t forget quinoa, a grain that mimics the same amino acid profile as an animal protein. A good choice for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Limit Added Sugars and Refined Carbs
It’s true, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And you may not want to hear it, but limiting or better yet eliminating added sugars and refined carbohydrates is key to hitting your weight loss goals, including decreasing belly fat.
Added sugars like those in soda, juice, cookies, muffins, processed meals, and candy are the enemy. (Don’t be afraid of natural sugar found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, which contain healthy fiber and don’t affect your insulin in the same way.)
Added sugars increase your hunger and desire for more sugar, neither of which make weight loss easier. Also, drinking a lot of sugary beverages is linked to an increased amount of visceral fat, a kind of deep belly fat associated with conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Refined carbohydrates are typically found in processed, packaged foods like frozen pizza or food made with white flour like pasta and bagels. These carbs act just like added sugar in your body.
Refined carbs release glucose (sugar) into your bloodstream much faster than complex carbs like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. This results in blood sugar spikes, which lead to crashes that can trigger hunger and cravings for more high-carb foods.
Refined carbohydrate foods also usually lack essential nutrients and can be considered “empty” calories.
Note: In addition to added sugars and refined carbs, alcohol also contributes to weight gain: it stops your body from burning fat, it’s high in calories, it can make you feel hungry, and it can lead to poor food choices. Remember to drink in moderation – women should have no more than one drink a day, and men should have no more than two per day.
7. Drink More Water
Water has plenty of benefits, several of which involve maintaining a healthy weight, reducing belly bloat, improving energy, and reducing hunger.
And consider this: in a living, moving body, skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water. In order to put healthy muscle on your body, water is a necessity.
On average, you should be drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you exercise regularly, add another glass or two to that.
8. Minimize Stress Levels
High cortisol (the stress hormone) levels have actually been linked to belly fat retention.
Although it’s not necessarily the first step in reducing belly fat, chronic stress can definitely cause some people to hold on to more visceral fat.
Manage stress through meditation, yoga, and self-care, and see if you notice a difference.
9. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep
You may not think of sleep as being connected to your weight loss journey, but research shows otherwise: study participants who were put on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to the well-rested participants.
Lack of sleep can also change your fat cells by disrupting your body’s ability to properly use insulin. Excess insulin can cause your body to store fat in the wrong places, which can cause weight gain and even diabetes.
Adults should regularly get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy, alert and energized.
15-Minute Lower Belly Fat Workout
Now that you’ve learned the diet and lifestyle changes needed to reduce fat, here is the 15-minute workout that completes the picture. Perform 2-3 times per week to melt off belly fat.
This workout will tone and sculpt all the muscles in your core, including your transverse abdominus (low abs), rectus abdominus (vertical ab muscle), and oblique muscles.
Do this workout first thing when you get up, while the kids are eating breakfast, or at the gym on your lunch break—whenever you have time to squeeze it in.
Perform each of these moves for 1 minute. Take a 1-minute rest afterward—then start from the beginning and do another 1 minute for each move.
1) Stand with feet a little wider than hip-distance apart, knees bent, and hands held behind the back of your head.
2) Bend to the right, reaching right hand toward the floor behind your leg. Keep spine long.
3) Return to center and repeat on the left side.
1) Start lying on the mat with fingers at the base of your head and elbows pointed out. Bring the soles of your feet together, knees pointed outward.
2) Tilt your chin slightly forward and squeeze abdominals to lift your chest upward. Keep arms and neck relaxed. Slowly lower down and repeat.
Side Plank Lift and Lower
1) Start by laying on your right side with forearm below shoulder, body lifted and legs long, and feet stacked. Keep body straight, abs tight, and place left hand on hip.
2) Dip your hips down towards the mat and lift back up, using your obliques and core muscles.
1) Start lying on the mat with arms over your head and legs long.
2) Sweep arms out to sides and bring head, neck, and shoulders off the mat reaching arms long and lifting one leg up and in towards the chest. Reaching arms forward on the sides of the leg. Rollback to mat lowering the leg, and repeat on the other side.
Ab Reverse Curl
1) Lie on the mat and extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling.
2) As you exhale, tighten your low belly to push your feet straight into the air. Hips will lift slightly off the mat.
3) Return your hips and lower back to the mat with control. Use your abdominals vs. momentum to create the movement and avoid rolling onto the neck
1) Begin in a forearm plank position with your body in a straight line and abdominals contracted.
2) Step your left foot out to the left; step your right foot out to the center.
3) Step your left foot back to center; step your right foot back to the center.
Bird Dog Crunch
1) Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abs, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
2) Bring the elbow and knee in towards your center as you round your back remember to draw in your abs. repeat on another side.
Full Body Roll-Up
Losing belly fat is just the start! If you’re looking for a full-length 30-minute workout that incorporates both cardio and core movements then you’re going to want to try this workout.
Bringing to you a full 30-minute Cardio + Core Workout that will torch calories and focus on hitting every muscle in the abs!
Lan Rosepetal on August 10, 2021 at 8:16 AM
Great article, thanks a lot for these precious tips & ideas!
Lana on August 4, 2021 at 9:22 AM
Great article & great tips to try in the future, thanks a lot!
Jessica on March 4, 2021 at 6:18 AM
I got a lower belly fat ,,,,and it looks disgusting ,,,I try all exercise it still same, what are the home remedies I needed for it
Chris Freytag on March 17, 2021 at 1:42 PM
Hi Jessica - Well that lower belly area is a hard place for all women in general. But the "home remedies" would be nutrition and exercise! When it comes to nutrition - I always advise to stay away from any extra sugars in your diet. Eliminate any unnecessary foods or sugars other than what you get from fruit, vegetables and healthy foods. Then of course you need to be working out and moving your body!
Faith on November 29, 2020 at 10:30 AM
Thanks for this. How long does it take to see improvements?
Chris Freytag on December 9, 2020 at 12:14 PM
Hi Faith - Well consistency is going to be key! I always advise people to really watch what they are eating as well when it comes to the dreaded lower belly area. So if you are eating relatively clean (try to get rid of sugar) and incorporating movement and good healthy habits you should start seeing small results within a few weeks. Remember, change doesn't happen over night. It's all about consistency!
Madeline Theis on July 20, 2020 at 7:03 AM
Amazing way of excercise it seems you made a playful way of workout. Its more entertaining to do physical activities in a fun way.
Kaela on June 2, 2019 at 10:12 PM
I'm wondering what the approximate calories burned would be for this workout so I can log it in my calorie counter app
Chris Freytag on June 3, 2019 at 4:38 PM
Hi Kaela - This is a great question! Please keep in mind that everyones calorie burn is going to be different depending on their stats. Your age, height, weight, intensity of working out, level of activity, are all going to be factors that come into play for calorie burn. So for example, an abdominal workout done by a woman who weighs 140 lbs may burn around 70 calories in 15 minutes. However, a man who weighs 200 lbs who completes the same 15 minute ab workout may burn close to 100 calories. For the average female doing a 15 minute ab routine, I would say they could approximately burn somewhere between 40-50 calories. I hope this helps! =
Sandra on May 31, 2019 at 6:43 PM
Hello! Thank you for the post! Lately, I have noticed that I have a lot of lower body fat. I think it might have came from stress (last few semesters of school and finals). I also have noticed that my body has been changing (growing hips, etc) and it seems like I’m at a point of my life where I have to watch what I eat. My question is, do you have any food recommendations that would be within a student budget (something fast since I work and go to school)? Lastly are there a few other workout tips that you could give me so I can stay on top of my lower stomach? Thank you so much!
Chris Freytag on June 3, 2019 at 4:57 PM
Hi Sandra - All wonderful questions so hopefully I can give you some answers that you find helpful for you :) Stress will definitely play a factor in how your body is changing. As finals and school are very stressful my advice would be to try and find ways to relieve some stress as much as you can. For instance, taking workout breaks, a quick 15 minute walk around the park, meditation, or even journaling are all great options. But remember, do something that you enjoy! With that being said, I am going to also include some other blogs with healthy snack and food options that are some of my favorite: https://gethealthyu.com/healthy-and-portable-snacks-for-weight-loss/ https://gethealthyu.com/55-healthy-easy-snacks/ When it comes to workout tips for the stomach - don't be afraid to pick up some weights and do some strength training. A lot of people believe that the best way to work the stomach is by doing crunches. But in reality moves such as squat curl press, lunges, standing and holding a bicep curl all work the core as well. Here are some workouts I would try doing and make sure you are squeezing and engaging the core muscles! https://gethealthyu.com/30-minute-anywhere-bodyweight-workout/ https://gethealthyu.com/the-busy-woman-strength-workout/ Hope this helps!
Chrissy on May 13, 2019 at 3:02 PM
Hi, I recently had a baby eleven months ago I have lost a lot of weight but have a pooch of a belly, I’m currently hitting the gym five days a week three days cardio and two weights however I’m struggling with the lower belly all together it doesn’t look like it’s decreasing, my waist is slowly and I am seeing improvements there but I was wondering where I may be going wrong, I clean eat and have the occasional treat at the end of the month.
Chris Freytag on June 3, 2019 at 8:55 PM
Hi Chrissy - It sounds like you are on the right track and are making the right steps to getting your pre-baby body back! It is hard on all of us mamas as we try to get back to "pre-baby" weight or body and just know that you are killing it as a new mamma! It will take some time, but you are taking all the steps in the right direction. While crunches and abdominal workouts are good for the "belly pooch" continue to make sure you are pushing your workouts with higher intensity workouts like HIIT workouts or maybe it's time to pick up heavier weights. I always tell my clients that strength training often time does more for the core and abdominal region than crunches themselves! I have provided you with a few articles for getting your body back post-baby below. I hope these help answer some of your questions and also give you a few more ideas of exercises to incorporate in your workouts. https://gethealthyu.com/rock-your-body-after-baby/ https://gethealthyu.com/10-minute-postpartum-power-workout/
Salida Moore on April 27, 2019 at 2:08 AM
Hello, I'm writing because I just had total knee replacement surgery about 7 weeks ago and I would like to learn to eat healthy and figure what are some good exercises for me at this moment trying to tone up midsection, arms and other areas that have extra fat because I've gained about 10 pounds and also would like to lose the pounds off straining my knees
Chris Freytag on May 31, 2019 at 11:24 AM
Salida - Thank you so much for your question. I hope that you are on the upward swing and recovering from your total knee replacement surgery. This will take some time so make sure that you are listening to your doctor and also listening to your body. I am going to give you some links to a few of my blogs in regards to good exercises you can do to tone up your midsection, arms, etc. pieces of advice for eating healthy, and how it all works together. Just remember that it all starts with what you are eating and taking in and then exercise will also play a big role as well. Hoping some of these blogs will help you get off to a start. Let me know if you have any further questions! https://gethealthyu.com/how-to-get-rid-of-muffin-top/ https://gethealthyu.com/how-to-lose-arm-fat/
Khayrie on March 12, 2019 at 1:09 AM
Thank you so much for sharing this 15 minute flat ab workout. I really wanted to lose my lower belly pooch because it grew bigger and bigger before I knew it. Now, I exercise regularly doing cross fit training but it's still not flat yet. I guess I need to look out on the food I eat as well and do more exercises like the ones provided above. I am also doing some balanced exercises and will wait for 1-2 months more.
Chris Freytag on March 15, 2019 at 6:50 AM
Hi Khayrie - Well first off it sounds like you are doing all of the right things and you are staying active! So congratulations to you and do not underestimate how important it is to move your body! I always tell my clients and people asking for a tighter tummy that the key to a tighter core is what you put into your body. We can exercise all day, but at the end of the day it's all about what we put in our mouths. You can't out train a bad diet. So make sure you are eating lots of whole foods, fruits and veggies are my favorite, and definitely getting in your sources of protein since you are working out. Good luck and keep living that healthy and active lifestyle!