Belly fat is almost always 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 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 getting rid of all foods that can cause 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 choice can cause you to get bloated and your stomach to appear distended. Bloating is caused by gas, fluid, or a combination of the two, expanding your intestines. This causes abdominal swelling and discomfort (2).
Bloating can also be caused by swallowing too much air. Bloating 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.
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 allergies to food. If you experience bloating after eating a certain food, it might indicate an allergy to that particular item. Common allergens 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 allergy or 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.
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
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 reduced through regular exercise (4).
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Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause insulin resistance which is a leading factor in abdominal obesity (5). The more you drink, the greater your risk of getting fat around 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 reasons why your belly isn’t flat. So, to get the toned abdomen you must go on a cleanse that boosts your fat loss and helps you get back on track.
The easiest way to lose weight is by aiming for steady and consistent progress (20). Fasting for 3 days might work, but the results won’t last long – you’ll soon be back to old habits.
Here’s the best cleanse for weight loss, that involves going on a 3 day diet of healthy foods, and regular exercise. You can extend this plan beyond three days to get the most benefits.
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 fat and distended.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1 – Avoid These Foods
Start by avoiding all foods that are likely to cause trouble. This means you have to stop eating fatty meat cuts, and dairy products such as milk, cheese and butter (but only if you suspect these could be behind your intolerance). You should also avoid processed foods with additives and preservatives.
It might be hard to resist your favorite snacks and beverages at first, but if you can manage it for three days then it won’t be a problem later on either. 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.
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.
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 should 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 fat loss diet (13).
Be careful, though – some meats can also be a major source of sodium, which can cause water retention. You should cut back on processed foods as part of your weight loss plan, so deli meats and sausages are best avoided (8).
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 insulin levels, and keeps your energy levels up during the day (21).
You can enjoy these grains as whole wheat pasta, or healthier breakfast cereals made of oats and barley. There are many other healthy carbohydrates that haven’t been processed for long periods of time, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them in your favorite stores.
Healthy fats in moderation are a great source of fuel for your body. Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you, as they 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’s also a good idea to take herbal tea at night because it contains healing properties that will help reduce bloating during the day.
Water has many proven benefits for weight loss, so you should aim to drink about 8 glasses per day (at least) (19). Herbal teas such as peppermint have been shown by multiple studies to reduce digestive problems and pain caused by gas build-up in your stomach (14).
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.
Step 4 – Reintroduce Foods & Habits Gradually
Gradually reintroduce dairy and meat products after three days, but only eat small amounts every now and then to keep cravings under control. In time you can go back to eating these foods more regularly without having a negative effect on your weight.
Keep eating lots of fiber from fruits, vegetables and green juices 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!
Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
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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- Genetic influences on central abdominal fat: a twin study (1996, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Harvard Heart Letter Red meat: Avoid the processed stuff (2010, health.harvard.edu)
- Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables 1 (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Lactose Intolerance in Adults: Biological Mechanism and Dietary Management (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Review article: The physiologic effects and safety of Peppermint Oil and its efficacy in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional disorders (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Subcutaneous adipose tissue & visceral adipose tissue (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Diagnosis and Treatment of Celiac Disease (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Ultra-processed Food Intake and Obesity: What Really Matters for Health – Processing or Nutrient Content? (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Water, Hydration and Health (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies – Weight Management – NCBI Bookshelf (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Whole Grains | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)