Gyms may be closed and the coronavirus lockdown may have restricted all of us to our homes but that doesn’t mean that you should put a hold on your fitness goals. As of now, our current situation is the new normal and one of the best ways to adjust to this change is by keeping fit as this will not only help to reduce our stress and anxiety, but it can also strengthen our immune system – which is exactly what we all currently need. That said, why don’t you use this time to address one of the most common fitness concerns – belly fat.
Believe it or not, losing belly fat goes beyond concerns around your appearance. In fact, research has found that belly fat is dangerous to your health, linking it to diabetes, mortality and heart disease (1).
What causes belly fat?
The most common causes of stubborn belly fat include:
– Hormones – hormonal changes can cause increased hunger and slow metabolism.
– Family history of obesity
– Chronic stress levels
– Poor sleep
– A diet high in sugary and processed foods and beverages
– Excessive consumption of alcohol
– Lack of exercise
What’s the best way to lose belly fat?
Despite what a number of websites and fitness influencers tell you, it’s impossible to lose belly fat through spot training. In fact, the best way to lose belly fat is through both fitness and lifestyle changes.
That said, here are ways you can stay fit and lose belly fat while under lockdown.
4 Ways to lose belly fat in lockdown
1. Get lots of quality sleep
You may find sleep impossible due to your stress and anxiety, but not getting enough sleep will only make the situation worse. Also, lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and that’s the last thing that you need right now.
Despite the change in routine, it’s important to maintain your regular sleep schedule. Additionally, make sure that you don’t read any news before bed and that you switch off all devices at least an hour before. Rather ease yourself to sleep with a book or a puzzle.
2. Manage your stress levels
We’re all being affected by the coronavirus, and as such our anxiety and stress levels may be increasing. However, it’s important to not let your stress and anxiety take over. Doing so can weaken your immune system, as well as increase the risk of depression.
If you want to manage your stress levels during this time, try to:
3. Stay fit
Just because most gyms and fitness establishments are closed, does not mean that you can’t continue your fitness journey in the comfort of your own home, and that’s not even the best part. Most effective exercises that help you stay fit and healthy don’t even require gym equipment, allowing you to stay fit and build up their immune system wherever you are.
Before beginning any of the exercises I’m about to suggest, it’s important to always begin your routine with a warm-up. This will help to prepare your body for intense exercises by loosening muscles and increasing blood flow, thus reducing the risk of soreness and injury. Some common warm-ups include jogging on the spot of 30 seconds or 30-second high knees.
Exercise 1 – side plank
This exercise focuses on the muscles that are located on the side of the torso – the obliques.
How do I do a side plank?
– Lie on one side, with your forearm on the mat with the hand, elbow, and shoulders in line.
– Your bottom leg should be bent at a 45-degree angle, while your top leg should be straightened out.
– Slowly raise your hips high, and straighten the top arm out towards the ceiling.
– Hold the position for 30 seconds.
– For a more advanced method, you can raise your top leg and hold.
– Once done, repeat the same on the other side.
Exercise 2 – mountain climbers
A cardio workout, mountain climbers can help to tone your core, arms and even improve your agility.
How do I do mountain climbers?
– Start in a push-up position, making sure that your back is aligned from head to heel.
– Slowly bring in your right knee as close to your chest as you can, followed immediately by the left
– Keep alternating and try to go as fast as you can
– Make sure that you’re keeping your ab muscles tight the entire time.
Exercise 3 – crunches
The most popular ab exercise, crunches can be done anywhere and they help to tone your midriff.
How do I do a crunch?
– Lie down on a mat and place your hands behind your head.
– Bending your knees and keep your feet on the ground.
– Slowly lift your upper torso off the floor, engaging your abs. Make sure not to pull on your neck.
– Exhale as you come up and inhale as you go down.
– If you want a more advanced version, extend your legs outwards as you come up and bring the knees in as you go down.
Exercise 4 – Burpees
This exercise focuses on nearly every muscle in the body, making it an effective fat burner.
How do I do a burpee?
– Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
– Slightly bend into a squat as you place your hands on the floor.
– Kick your feet back into a plank position.
– Jump your feet towards your hands, and then jump up with your arms raised to complete one rep.
Exercise 5 – Captain’s Chair
All you need to do this exercise is a chair, making it perfect for your home workouts.
How do I do this exercise?
– Sit on a chair keeping your spine straight.
– Relax your shoulders and place your hands on the side of your hips to hold the chair.
– Lift both of your legs upwards, bringing your knees as close as you can to your chest.
– Hold for five seconds and bring down your legs slowly.
– Make sure not to lean forward and don’t let your touch the ground when doing this exercise.
4. Eat well
Aside from drinking plenty of water and staying fit, it’s also important that you’re eating the right food that nourishes you, as well as keeps you feeling full and sated.
That said, there are some foods that you can stock up your fridge with. They’ll not only help target your belly fat, but they also provide health benefits, that include strengthening your immune system
If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, now may be the time to start.
Spicy chili peppers contain the compound capsaicin, which helps to encourage fat burning by increasing the metabolic rate (2). Additionally, capsaicin can also help to protect your immune system, by warding off germs.
Rich in probiotics, starting off your day with yogurt can help you lose that stubborn belly fat.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, women who consumed probiotics were found to have lost twice as much weight compared to those who did not.
Additionally, the probiotics found in yogurt help to support gut health, and this, in turn, supports and protects the immune system.
It’s important to go for plain yogurt, free of added sugars and preservatives.
As we’re stuck indoors, a lot of are facing less sun exposure and as a result, it’s more important than ever to get our vitamin D from our foods. Additionally, has found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and belly fat.
Thankfully, mushrooms are not only a good source of vitamin D, but they also provide great immune support. Additionally, they’re incredibly versatile and can be easily added to soups, stews, salad, and sandwiches.
A great source of protein and fiber, legumes and beans help to encourage satiety, thus preventing overeating – which is quite common during these times.
They’re also versatile, cheap, and user-friendly, making them a must-have kitchen ingredient.
The bottom line
Losing belly fat won’t be accomplished in one day as it requires both patience and persistence. Additionally, focusing on losing belly fat cannot only provide a welcome distraction during this time, but it can also help to boost your immune system.
Sanchez, M., Darimont, C., Drapeau, V., Emady-Azar, S., Lepage, M., Rezzonico, E., . . . Tremblay, A. (2014). Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(8), 1507-1519. doi:10.1017/S0007114513003875
Varghese, S., Kubatka, P., Rodrigo, L., Gazdikova, K. (2016). Chili pepper as a body weight-loss food. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 68. 1-10. 10.1080/09637486.2016.1258044.