6 Effortless Ways To Melt Belly Fat Without Exercising
Lifting dumbbells in the weight room or getting in strides on the treadmill certainly isn't for everyone. Whether you simply dread going to the gym or don't enjoy traditional structured exercise, you can still get into shape and achieve your fitness goals. We spoke with Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN—the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a New York City-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness—who shares six effortless ways to lose belly fat without "exercising."
This comes with a caveat. You won't lose weight or trim down fat in your midsection if you cut out physical activity altogether and lead a sedentary lifestyle. Performing some physical activity is key—even if it's not the structured workouts you're used to. In fact, exercise paired with a nutritious, well-balanced diet is the best recipe for weight loss, getting into better shape, and maintaining muscle mass as you grow older.
All that being said, Shapiro breaks down some of the best ways to lose belly fat without exercising. Keep reading to learn all about them, and when you're finished, don't miss the 14 Ways to Get a Flat Belly After 40, According to Experts.
Try intermittent fasting.
If you haven't given intermittent fasting a try yet, listen up, because it can kick your fat loss efforts into high gear. For those who don't already know, intermittent fasting calls for you to enjoy your meals within a specific eating window, and fasting before and after that window.
"This allows your digestive tract to rest and for your body to use the nutrition you have consumed earlier in the day," Shapiro explains. "Additionally, it prevents late-night eating and promotes optimal digestion." She recommends women do intermittent fasting for 12 to 14 hours, and men for 14 to 16 hours.
Limit white/processed carbs.
Cutting unhealthy carbs out of your diet is a seamless way to strip away unwanted belly flab. Nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and fiber are what make you feel full. Simple, refined carbs like white rice, pasta, white bread, pastries, sugary desserts, and certain breakfast cereals, don't offer these vital nutrients. Instead, they fill you up with empty calories that will leave you feeling hungry soon after you finish them. Shapiro adds, "[White/processed carbs] turn into sugar in your body, and without exercise, this will be stored as fat."
Incorporate veggies in two meals per day.
Fresh veggies offer fiber, water, and volume, all of which will help you stay fuller for longer. The best part? They don't come with a high-calorie count, and they're low in fat, so they won't make you gain weight even if you eat a lot of them! "When trying to melt belly fat, eating more veggies will crowd out other foods that are higher in calories," Shapiro says. She recommends adding vegetables to two meals each day. (You can also whip up one of our refreshing veggie- and fruit-packed green smoothies to maximize belly fat loss!)
Pack in the protein.
Consuming lean proteins such as cottage cheese, skinless chicken breast, salmon, Greek yogurt, white fish, and egg whites is the name of the game if you want to slim down. Shapiro stresses the importance of meeting your protein goals, telling us, "Usually, I recommend consuming [around] .8 grams to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. This helps you to stay full, manage blood sugar, prevent cravings, and support muscle growth/strength which boosts metabolism."
Eliminating sugary beverages is a smart idea, as they're another source of empty calories and are void of nutrients. Swap those out, and focus on drinking more H2O. "Water helps to boost metabolism and fills you up," Shapiro explains. "When you feel hungry, you are often dehydrated and mistake thirst for hunger. Before you eat something, drink a glass of water and revisit your hunger in a few minutes."
Find active hobbies you enjoy.
Just because you're not a fan of the gym and/or traditional exercise, that doesn't mean you can't find a few active hobbies you genuinely enjoy. As stressed before, leading a sedentary life won't help you in the long run when it comes to losing weight and belly fat. "While you don't have to aggressively exercise every day, you should move your body and not just sit on a couch or behind a desk all day," Shapiro says. Without muscle mass, your metabolism will slow."
So whether you start going on hikes with your pup, stretch (and zen) it out with yoga, rally up friends for pickleball games, join a club sport, or learn how to ski, it's important to establish active hobbies you actually look forward to doing—and stick to them.