You've lost weight and shrunk your tummy, but the pouch of fat just below your belly button refuses to budge. Lower abdominal crunches are unlikely to help as they're designed to build muscle, which may cause the area to protrude more as you train the muscle underneath the fat. This stubborn area should eventually respond to an eating and exercise plan that emphasizes reducing your overall body fat. To get a super flat tummy and eradicate the fat just below your belly button, aim for a body fat percentage of less than 20 percent as a woman or 10 percent as a man.
About the Fat Below the Belly Button
Belly fat consists of subcutaneous fat, the stuff that's just under the skin and feels soft and pinchable, as well as deep visceral fat. First focus on losing the visceral fat, which responds well to traditional low-calorie diets, cleaner eating and regular exercise. If you've lost that, you may find that the subcutaneous fat right under your belly button is more stubborn. The subcutaneous fat, however, is more of a cosmetic issue -- the deep visceral fat is what causes your risk for chronic disease to skyrocket.
Abdominal exercises don't burn fat -- they build muscle. You may crunch, leg lift and twist, but when you still have body fat covering the below-the-belly-button region -- you won't see the results you're after. It's possible to be thin but still have a high proportion of body fat. Your genes also influence the pattern by which you lose fat. Many people who are of a healthy weight hang on to the fat just above and below the belly button as a last bit of fat storage.
Get Ready to Commit
Manageable dietary changes and levels of exercise are required to get most people to a healthy weight. If you've achieved that and need to lean out more to address lingering places of fat storage, such as right underneath your belly button, it takes greater dietary focus and fitness determination. You can't skip workouts, have cheat days or party hard.
Additional steps that increase your chances of getting leaner include drinking ample water daily, getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night and reducing lifestyle stress. If you're at a healthy weight, consider if losing the pouch under your belly button is worth the extra effort.
Revise Your Diet to Get Lean
If you've taken steps to lose weight and considerable belly fat, you'll have to keep at it to lose the fat under the belly button. Follow a stricter diet that includes only whole foods, ban sugary drinks and avoid most restaurant foods. Meals will consist mainly of a baked or grilled protein, such as chicken breast or white fish, a small serving of brown rice or sweet potatoes and steamed green vegetables or a side salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
Eye-balling portion sizes and avoiding processed foods isn't enough to lose the last pockets of fat. You must be completely on point with a whole foods, portion-controlled plan. You'll need to precisely measure your servings to ensure you're not exceeding your calorie budget. Five or six small meals may help you stay on track with the stricter menu. As you're losing this last bit of fat, you may also aim for a modest calorie deficit of just 250 calories per day. Too great of a deficit discourages the growth of muscle mass, which you want to encourage to help you burn fat more efficiently, lean out and lose that bit of fat in your low belly.
Exercise to Get Rid of Fat
If you aren't already participating in moderate-intensity cardio at least 150 minutes per week, get the okay from your doctor before starting to exercise. Then, if your health allows, increase it to about 250 minutes per week to lose significant weight, advises the American College of Sports Medicine.
To burn more fat and get a leaner frame, make two or three of those weekly cardio sessions consist of high-intensity interval training. After a warmup, alternate short periods of extremely high-intensity cardiovascular work with rest intervals. For example, cycle at an all-out intensity for 4 minutes and then pedal slowly for 2 minutes. Repeat for the duration of your workout. A paper published in 2011 in the Journal of Obesity reviewed a substantial amount of research showing that this workout approach burns fat most effectively.
Resistance training is also essential in your quest to lose the pouch of fat under your belly button. Address all the major muscle groups to improve your ratio of lean muscle to fat mass. While some abdominal exercises, such as planks and hanging leg raises, should be included in your routine, also focus on big, functional movements such as lunges, squats, deadlifts and pullups.
- Precision Nutrition: The Cost of Getting Lean
- Affluent Magazine: The True Secret to Burning Belly Fat
- American Council on Exercise: Why Is the Concept of Spot Training Considered a Myth?
- Rush University Medical Center: Is There 'One Trick' to Losing Belly Fat?
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- American Council on Exercise: Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn