You can’t spot reduce fat in your body. But you can tone and strengthen the muscles underneath, which will give your waist a more defined shape. And that’s what this article is all about: how to get a smaller waist by burning belly fat and toning abs. There are two ways to do this: burn off excess calories with exercise and eat better foods for healthier living.
We’ll talk first about what it takes to burn those calories off, then we’ll cover different types of exercises for toning up those abdominal muscles. After that, we’ll talk about eating habits for better health and finally some tips on meal planning so you could know what good choices look like in an everyday diet plan.
What Are The Risks Of Carrying Excess Fat Around Your Waist?
It isn’t just your self-esteem that’s on the line when you carry excess weight around your waistline. Fat, especially visceral fat (the type of fat surrounding and stored in your abdominal organs), is linked to a number of diseases including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and gallstones (4).
What Are The Best Exercises For A Smaller Waist?
One of the first things that any woman learns about fitness is that building a smaller waistline is one of the best ways to look better. While it’s true that working your entire body will give you an overall leaner appearance, focusing on this area can help make sure your hard work pays off. Here are five exercises for women who want to learn how to get a smaller waistline
For your abs to show, you must burn all the visceral fat in your midsection. The good news is, cardio workouts burn a lot of calories while working your body in a way that creates lean muscle (6). If you want to trim your waistline and make it look smaller without doing ab exercises, consider adding some cardio exercises into your regimen. Here are four great options:
Especially on stairs or bleachers, step-ups can help strengthen your glutes and calf muscles as well as give you an overall greater workout since they also incorporate the lower back and hamstrings (13). To do step-ups on stairs:
- Stand on the edge of one step with both feet together facing up the staircase.
- Place one foot firmly on it so that half your weight is leaning forward above the ground while holding onto a railing for support.
- Push off the floor with your other foot and bring it up to the level of the stairs, then come back down.
- Do 12 reps for each leg and add three sets.
Step-ups will help you burn more calories than jogging, but it’s important not to overdo this particular exercise since you’re pushing your weight above a certain limit that can cause severe damage to your bones if done incorrectly.
If you have access to a pool, swimming is another form of cardio exercise that targets the entire body while building lean muscles, making it one of the best workouts for women who want a smaller waistline. It helps increase your heart rate without putting too much strain on your joints (11).
Walking Up A Stair Flight
For an everyday cardio workout, try taking stairs instead of elevators whenever possible. Most people who live in high-rise buildings don’t even realize how many flights they climb daily because it’s become routine for them. By making a conscious effort to take the stairs every time you go somewhere, you’ll be helping reprogram your mind so that it associates climbing with burning calories.
If jogging is one of the best exercises for weight loss, running is surely one of its forms. Instead of focusing on intensive cardio exercises during your workouts, turn to low-impact ones like walking to burn more calories (14). While it doesn’t seem like you’re doing enough, this type of exercise actually requires a good amount of strength in the legs and core muscles since it takes time for your body to adjust.
Strength Training Exercises
Once your cardio exercises have helped burn more calories than usual and shrink your waistline, it’s time to incorporate some strength training into the mix in order to tighten up this area. For women who are interested in getting a smaller waist, consider trying any one of these five moves:
Bicycle crunches are one of the best strength training exercises that target abs, obliques, lower back, and even your hip flexor muscles (3). You can do this exercise just about anywhere, but it’s especially effective if you’re doing it on a mat.
- Start by lying on your back, legs extended straight towards the ceiling and arms resting along the sides of your body.
- Bring both knees into your chest.
- Pretend you’re pedaling a bicycle by extending one leg out while contracting the abs to curl up your spine at the same time.
- Do 12 reps for each side before switching to do 12 reps for each side again.
Russian twists are another great way to work on not just obliques but also lower back muscles. To do Russian twists:
- Sit with bent knees and your feet pressing firmly into the floor, holding your hands next to your chest.
- Sit back slightly, keeping your spine straight.
- Exhale as you twist to the left, punching your right arm over to the left side.
- Inhale back to center, and then do the opposite side.
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Dumbbell Side Bend
The dumbbell is one of the most effective equipment to tone your obliques, especially when you use it in conjunction with side bends. To do this exercise:
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent.
- Staying upright with back straight, lean at waist level towards whichever side has the weight in your hands.
- Do 12 reps for each arm before switching sides.
Plank Hip Dips
Plank hip dips are great strength training exercises to get a smaller waist (5). To do this, you’ll need to start off in the plank position with your arms extended underneath your shoulders and your body lifted off the ground. To perform this exercise:
- In a low plank position, your body should be in a straight line, your elbows bent and beneath your shoulders, and your feet hip-width apart.
- Rotate your hips to the right and dip your body almost to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides until you’ve completed one set.
Last but definitely not least are squats, which are effective in toning your whole body while getting rid of excess fat, including that at or near the waistline. Squats also help with weight loss by strengthening and toning muscles all over the body, making it easier for you to burn more calories during physical activities (9). To do this exercise:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with toes pointed forward or slightly outwards.
- Keep both knees in line with each toe throughout the movement while pushing hips back and bending at knee joints until thighs are parallel to the floor.
How To Eat For A Smaller Waist
In order to lose fat and tighten muscles, it’s important to eat a healthy diet. Reducing certain items from your diet can also help you reduce the circumference of your midsection. Here are some tips on how to eat for a smaller waist size.
Eat Healthy Fats
Fats are satiating and encourage the building of muscle (1). Some healthy fats include fish oil, flaxseeds, extra virgin olive oil and avocado. These can be added to shakes or even used in cooking to add flavor without all the calories from fat.
Eat More Fibrous Vegetables
Vegetables that are high in fiber but low in calories are great for helping you to achieve a smaller waist size (7). This includes vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and spinach. Fiber holds water, so these types of vegetables will help reduce bloat around your midsection.
Eat Protein At Every Meal
Protein is very important because it preserves muscle mass as you lose weight. Eating protein at every meal will make it easier to maintain a strong core while slimming.
Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains are another dietary staple when it comes to eating for smaller waist size. The whole grain retains the outer layer which contains many essential nutrients. Foods that contain whole grains include barley, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa.
Fresh Fruit Is An Important Part Of Your Diet
Fruits are high in fiber content so they keep you full longer than other carbohydrate sources do. Other benefits of fruit include antioxidants which may help prevent cancerous cells from growing in your body (7).
Eat Breakfast To Jumpstart Your Metabolism
Starting your day off with a healthy breakfast will help you lose weight and prevent obesity because it jumpstarts your metabolism. Studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning are less likely to be obese than those who do not eat in the morning because they have an easier time controlling their hunger throughout the day (10).
Drink Water Within 30 Minutes Of Waking Up
Drinking water as soon as you wake up kick starts your metabolism and gets things moving through your digestive system for better bowel movements and reduced bloating (15). Start each day with 16 ounces of water. If desired, add some lemon to give it a little flavor! Drinking enough water daily may prove difficult for some, so be sure to add it slowly throughout the day.
Limit Eating Refined Grains
Refined grains, such as white bread and pasta, break down into sugar very quickly because they have been processed. Sugar increases insulin levels in the body, which can lead to increased fat storage around the stomach, hips, and thighs (12). The best way to lose belly fat is by avoiding refined carbohydrates like white breads and pastas completely or limiting them heavily.
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Limit Sugar Intake
Excess sugar causes insulin to increase and leads to increased fat storage, especially around the waist (12). Not only should you cut out added sugar, but also limit your intake of fruit juice since it has a high glycemic index and causes the same problems as refined sugars.
Cut Alcoholic Drinks
Consuming alcohol can cause an increase in belly fat due to consuming excess calories that are not burned off through exercise, inhibiting metabolism, and causing water retention (2).
Limit Sugary Fruit Juices
Grapefruit, apple, pineapple, orange juices all have a high glycemic index level because they contain a lot of sugar. Eating a diet with a low glycemic index will help burn off excess fat from around your stomach area without negatively affecting your strength training goals (8).
Control Your Portions
You should plan on consuming about six small meals a day instead of three large ones. This works by keeping your metabolism going all day long and preventing it from slowing down during a meal. If you’re starting this plan, eat a little less than usual at every meal until you get accustomed to eating smaller amounts more frequently throughout the day.
You Can Eat What You Want Sometimes
So long as what you eat is nutritionally balanced with lots of protein and vegetables while limiting the amount of simple sugars and refined carbs, you can eat your favorite foods every now and then. Some good choices include brown rice, oats and sweet potatoes. These offer much more nutritional value than sugary treats that only provide empty calories.
You won’t get smaller overnight. It takes time to lose weight and inches off your waist. Stick with the plan and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it works!
The Bottom Line
Losing weight fast is not an easy goal but losing fat around your stomach (aka ab flab!) is something that can happen, even for men. If you want to get rid of belly fat, all it takes is commitment and consistency in choosing a proper diet and doing cardio exercises regularly, such as running or biking. You will also need to watch the amount of calories you ingest daily. Burning enough calories while restricting your calorie intake will help burn off excess fat stored in your gut.
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!
- A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce to reduce consumer confusion (2017, nih.gov)
- Alcohol and weight gain (2017, vic.gov.au)
- Bicycle Crunches (n.d., spotebi.com)
- Body fat distribution, in particular visceral fat, is associated with cardiometabolic risk factors in obese women (2017, nih.gov)
- Effect of 30 days abdominals challenge versus 30 days planks challenge on waist circumference and abdominal skin fold measurements in healthy young individuals: randomized clinical trial (2016, ijmhr.org)
- Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on your body mass and fat mass in overweight and obese adults(2012, nih.gov)
- Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables (2012, nih.gov)
- Health benefits of low glycemic index foods, such as pulses, in diabetes and healthy individuals (2002, pubmed.gov)
- How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loading (2018, ncbi.gov)
- Skipping Breakfast is correlated with obesity (2018, nih.gov)
- Major new study of health benefits of swimming (2017, blogs.bmj.com)
- The sweet danger of sugar (2019, harvard.edu)
- Video: Step-up exercise (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Walking for good health (2015, vic.gov.au)
- Water-Induced Thermogenesis (2003, oup.com)