Belly fat is often caused by poor dietary choices. In some cases, one’s stomach might be excessively distended due to bloat, as well as poor meal time practices. Either way, there are two ways that people tend to try to get a flat stomach – go on a cleanse or eliminate all offending foods and exercise to burn fat. This 3-day cleanse to lose belly fat involves limiting foods that can contribute to excess belly fat, and replacing them with healthy options. It also includes an exercise plan for overall fat reduction.
What Causes Belly Fat?
Belly fat refers to fat around the abdomen. There are two types of adipose tissue (15):
- Visceral: This fat surrounds a person’s organs.
- Subcutaneous: This is fat that sits under the skin.
Health complications from visceral fat are more harmful than having subcutaneous fat. Having too much visceral fat can increase your risk of (3):
- heart disease
- heart attacks
- high blood pressure
- type 2 diabetes
- breast cancer
- colon cancer
Common causes of belly fat include:
Processed foods, fast food, and sugary foods all increase your chances of having belly fat. While these foods are calorie-dense, they won’t satisfy hunger for long periods of time. You’ll have to eat large portions of these to feel satisfied, and overeating leads to excessive weight gain (18).
Sometimes your diet choices can cause you to feel bloated and your stomach to appear distended. Bloating is caused by gas, fluid, or a combination of the two, expanding your intestines. This isn’t the same as having belly fat, but it instead causes abdominal swelling and discomfort (2).
Bloating can also be caused by swallowing too much air and is the result of gas building up in your intestines. One way we swallow air is to eat or drink too quickly, and not chew properly.
Bloating can also be caused by chewing gum, smoking cigarettes, and drinking carbonated beverages. These activities may all cause you to swallow excess air. Your body then absorbs this excess gas into your bloodstream and distributes it throughout your digestive tract. While not harmful to your health, bloating can be uncomfortable.
Read More: Lemon Maple Syrup Diet: The Master Cleanse Program For Quick Weight Loss
Allergies And Intolerances
Many people who experience bloating frequently are lactose intolerant. They have difficulty digesting milk sugar (lactose) and may develop bloating after consuming dairy products like ice cream, milk, or cheese. Lactose intolerance symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea (11).
Bloating can also be caused by intolerances to food. If you experience bloating after eating a certain food, it might indicate an intolerance to that particular item. Common culprits include nuts, strawberries, wheat flour and other grains, and beans.
Celiac disease is another cause of abdominal bloating. It is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten in people with genetic predisposition. People with this condition experience symptoms similar to an allergic reaction when they consume foods containing gluten. These include bloating, excess gas, diarrhea or constipation (or both), abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, rashes on your arms or legs and fatigue.
Celiac disease may go undiagnosed if you continue to eat gluten, which can lead to serious health problems. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you need to be tested for celiac disease (16).
If the bloating is caused by a food intolerance, removing it from your diet will reduce your symptoms. The time it takes for these symptoms to subside varies, depending on how severe and long-term the reaction was in your body. In most cases, intolerances are temporary and should disappear within two weeks of removing the irritant. Working with a registered dietitian can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and craft a diet plan to ensure you still get the nutrients you need without the discomfort.
In rare cases, your bloated and distended tummy might be a sign of a medical issue such as:
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- pancreatic insufficiency
- fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity as a result of liver disease or kidney failure
Talk to your doctor if you suspect that any of these conditions are contributing to your symptoms.
If you do not use up the calories that you consume, they are stored in your body for future use as body fat. If someone sits all day at work or has an active job but does not move around much while doing it then his or her calorie expenditure will be low compared to someone who is more active during their daily tasks and thus burns off more calories. Belly fat can be gradually reduced through regular exercise (4).
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Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fat accumulation in the liver and eventually, serious liver damage. Abdominal fluid accumulation is a common side effect in the later stages. The more you drink, the greater your risk of expanding your waistline.
Insufficient sleep increases cortisol during the day and higher levels of cortisol lead to increased visceral (belly) fat deposits (10). Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night keeps the body on an even hormonal balance throughout each 24 hour cycle and reduces overall stress which will keep cortisol under control.
Some people may have genetics that make them more likely to store belly fat (7). Usually there is a strong family history of obesity and those who are genetically predisposed to abdominal fat can reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.
There are other factors that can lead to the storage of belly fat but the ones listed above seem to be the most prevalent causes. By making simple changes in diet, lifestyle, or even quitting certain behaviors all together individuals will notice an improvement in their health which should decrease their susceptibility to getting excess body fat around the waistline.
How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat
Poor nutrition and lack of exercises are the two main addressable reasons why your belly isn’t flat. So, to get a toned abdomen you must make changes that boost your fat loss and help you get back on track. Some people may opt for a cleanse to kick off their journey.
The easiest way to lose weight is by aiming for steady and consistent progress (20). Fasting for 3 days might work temporarily, but the results won’t last long – you’ll regain any lost weight the moment you start eating again.
Here’s the best cleanse for weight loss, that involves going on a 3 day diet of healthy foods, and regular exercise. This isn’t a quick fix, it is intended to jump-start your transition into a healthier lifestyle.
Read More: 3-Day Diet Cleanse: Why You Don’t Need One, And What To Do Instead
How To Do The 3-Day Cleanse To Lose Belly Fat
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to go extreme and live on water and lemons alone to do a cleanse. This version involves cutting out unhealthy foods, and habits that might be making your stomach appear large and distended.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1 – Avoid These Foods
Start by avoiding the foods that tend to contribute to weight gain. This means you will eliminate fatty and processed meats, refined grain products, and possibly dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter (but only if you suspect you are intolerant and that is causing bloating and distension). You should also avoid highly processed foods with added sugars and/or lots of sodium (like snacks and sweets) as well as sugary drinks. You may decide to avoid alcohol as well.
It might be hard to resist your favorite snacks and beverages at first, but if you can manage it for three days then you might not feel like you need them as often later on. That’s one of the benefits of cleanses – they stay with you even when you’re not doing them!
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Step 2 – Eat These Foods Instead
Next, start consuming healthful alternatives to the forbidden food groups above for 3 days. Pay attention to how your body reacts to some of these foods, and eliminate them if you think they’re causing you to bloat.
Colorful Fruits And Vegetables
These are full of fiber that can help you maintain a healthy gut. They’re also rich in antioxidants that can ward off disease and keep you looking young (9). Aim to have at least five servings of these per day and include them in every meal or snack.
Green juices are great because they contain a lot of vitamins, without too many calories or fat. However, be wary of sugar content in commercial varieties. Try making these at home with organic produce, or just eat the whole fruits and vegetables.
Berries are good for your health because they are high in fiber and antioxidants (1). You can have these as natural sweeteners in your oatmeal, or healthy snacks to give yourself an energy boost in the middle of the day.
Lean Meats And Plant Protein
Lean meats and poultry will likely be your protein of choice when you’re trying to reduce your body fat percentage and get a flat tummy. This is because they are high in protein and low in fat, which is an ideal ratio for a weight loss diet (13).
Be careful, though – some meats can also be a major source of sodium, which can cause water retention. You may want to cut back on processed foods as part of your weight loss plan, so deli meats and sausages are best avoided (8).
Seafood and plant protein sources (like beans, nuts, and seeds) are also wonderful lean sources of protein.
Filling up on healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains is a great way to lose belly fat and achieve slim thighs. Whole grains contain fiber (that slows down digestion) and complex carbs that release glucose slowly into your bloodstream. This process helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and keeps your energy levels up during the day (21).
You can replace your usual starches with whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or breakfast cereals made of whole oats and barley. Starchy vegetables are also a great source of complex carbs.
Healthy fats in moderation are a great source of fuel for your body. Olive oil and avocado are great sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids are also good for you, as they may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels (12). You can enjoy these in fish like sardines and mackerel, or in walnuts and flaxseeds.
To top it off, you should drink plenty of water to get rid of belly fat. It may also be a good idea to take herbal tea at night because it doesn’t contain caffeine, which can dehydrate you and interfere with your sleep.
Water has many proven benefits for weight loss, so you should aim to drink about 8 glasses per day (at least) (19).
Step 3 – Exercise Regularly!
You should exercise regularly even if you’re not on a cleanse to lose belly fat. This is something we all know we should do more of, but don’t always have the motivation to stick with it. The best way is by increasing your activity slowly over time instead of jumping straight into intense training sessions or marathons (17).
The exercise plan for this cleanse involves abdominal workouts, which target the core muscles that stabilize and give definition to your stomach region. There are many ways to do these exercises, but let’s take a look at the most beneficial exercises for flat abs:
- Plank exercises: These are great because they work out every abdominal muscle, and improve your core stability.
- Crunches: Crunches work the upper part of your stomach.
- Side crunches: These are really effective at toning the obliques, which are very hard to tone though they don’t have that much fat in them.
Incorporating cardio such as jogging, walking, swimming, or bicycling is also very helpful for fat loss and the movement can help stimulate healthy bowel function.
Step 4 – Reintroduce Foods & Habits Gradually
Gradually reintroduce dairy and meat products after three days if you’ve given them up. Continue to eat mostly healthy balanced meals, while enjoying your favorite treat foods here and there if they tend to be high in sugar, sodium, or saturated fat.
Keep eating lots of fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains so you won’t have any trouble with digestive problems or constipation (6). And try not to skip meals, because this will only make you more hungry in the long run.
Remember that all diets are just temporary solutions to losing weight – good nutrition is something you should always stick with even after you’ve reached your ideal weight.
The Bottom Line
The 3 day cleanse is a great way to kick off your weight loss journey, but the results won’t be permanent unless you keep up these healthy habits once you’re done with it. Remember that the key to long-term success is to make gradual changes instead of drastic measures like cleanses and fad diets. If you are serious about getting rid of belly fat, then take steps slowly and consistently over time!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Body fat distribution, in particular visceral fat, is associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in obese women (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women – a randomised trial (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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- Subcutaneous adipose tissue & visceral adipose tissue (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
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- Whole Grains | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)