Google "Belly Fat-Burning Exercises" and see what you get. You'll get thousands of articles with thousands of different movements. Everything from the burpee to the plank to the back squat.
Just like any other health or weight-loss question you type into Google, you're bombarded with a plethora of advice.
"Do this to burn your last 5 lbs"
"No! Don't do that! Do this instead!"
Behind all this information, there usually is a reason or a few different reasons why it's so messy.
Nothing targets belly fat. Or... everything targets belly fat?
Honestly sometimes I even confuse myself when writing these. That's how contradictory the world of weight loss can be.
Maybe once we remember what the word "target" really means, we can decide that "Nothing targets belly fat" is a better and more realistic answer.
So what do I mean by this? If we're going by the definition of target, we're aiming at belly fat as the one thing we want to get rid of. And if we're sticking to the definition of "target", then we can conclude that there is no movement, exercise routine, or food that individually targets belly fat.
Getting Toned Doesn't Mean Losing Fat
The amount of women that come to me saying they just want to get toned is crazy. And a lot of women still believe that getting toned means they're losing fat. A great example would be this:
Let's say you did a 6-week ab program in hopes to "tone" and "target" the fat in your stomach. Your ab muscles, as a result, may have grown. You may have also gained a bit of muscle in other areas of your body. This can lead us to believe we've targeted that area because it looks different. While, if you stepped on something like an InBody scanner or a DXA, your overall body fat percentage would have reduced - not just your stomach body fat.
So, when you hit the weights and you're doing tricep dips and pushups to "target arm flab" - what you're actually doing is building lean mass to help change the composition of your body.
So hit the weights (and eat lots of protein). It's good for you. And it's the closest thing you'll ever get to targeting X fat.
Your genetics don't care
Without sounding too harsh...your genetics don't care where you're trying to lose fat. They have their own things to worry about.
You were born a certain way - and while a lot of our surroundings and the way we were brought up can help alter some of these, we're also just stuck with a lot too. Some women will have a much easier time getting rid of unwanted fat all over. Some will carry it in their thighs, some in their face. Personally, the first place I always gain and lose weight is my face, and the last place is always my stomach. I have to get down to a very low, unhealthy body fat percentage if I want any chance at having "shredded abs". It just isn't worth it for me. And that's something I'll always live with.
Your Belly Fat and Hormones
Our hormones control every aspect of weight loss including your metabolism, where you store your fat, your appetite, and even your cravings! This means any form of hormonal imbalance will sabotage your efforts – regardless of your diet and exercise habits.
There's a reason why in a ton of my content, I'm always talking about protein. It stimulates activity of many of our appetite-controlling hormones when we consume it in the right amounts. a higher protein diet can help to "shed stubborn belly fat". And the reason why I put those in quotations is that, again, we have to remember that nothing is being targeted. Protein does not specifically target the fat in your belly to burn.
There have been studies that show pre-diabetic and type 2 diabetics who have a clear decrease in the belly or abdominal fat on a protein-rich diet. However, if we put them on a body fat percentage scanner, it would likely show a decrease in body fat all over.
Your best protein options are those that are lowest in fat like chicken, turkey, low-fat cheese, such as ricotta or cottage cheese, omega-3 eggs, and shellfish, such as scallops, which are very high in protein.
But what about ab exercises?
Your best bet at getting a strong core is to do compound movements like squatting, pressing, deadlifting and hip thrusting. After all, our core is everything minus our limbs. So our hips and glutes are included in there as well. (We all want a nice booty)
However, at the end of the day, our abs are muscle. And we can isolate this muscle for various hypertrophy exercises. This will grow your muscles, sure. And if you're lean enough, it might look like you're losing belly fat because your muscles are showing more. But this goes back again to the point made in the first paragraph. Don't mistake muscle growth for fat loss.
Okay cool, but how do I lose belly fat?
Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
Manage your stress levels.
Drink 2.2-3 Litres of water a day.
Get 7-10K steps in daily.
Prioritize weight training over cardio.
Eat a diet rich in protein.
Eat lots of veggies.
If that feels a bit overwhelming, pick two and get really good at those. I promise you don't need to make it more complicated than that. What it comes down to is consistency at doing the basics.