I’m really sorry. I had to open this post up with an apology because the title of this post was purposely constructed to be manipulative. It’s marketing at it’s finest; placing the two words that are your biggest weakness after pumpkin spice lattes, ‘fast’ and ‘belly fat’. Unfortunately, as promising as the title seems to be, it embeds everything that’s wrong with health and fitness today. It implies that optimizing the health of your mind and body is an overnight process. Ask any person who displays great health (the super lean and strong 30 year old at the gym who you stare at lifting in between sets) and they’ll tell you their journey to fitness was something made over the span of years. It required dedication and hard work which transpired over a period of time. A mindset which acknowledged ups and downs but ultimately had the constant of learning and improving upon mistakes and building upon successes.
Ok, so I’m not going to totally leave you hanging after my super deceiving title. On the plus side, now you know to hopefully avoid the links which promise to get you a “super six pack with this one shortcut in 72 hours” (and avoid the array of viruses you’ll have to explain to other household members). So, let’s get to it…how do we quickly and efficiently burn belly fat?
There’s no way to only lose belly fat…
“Yo, FNDfitness, you’re killing me. You’re leading me on more than my high school sweet heart who really wasn’t my sweet heart because she totally friendzone 3000’d me.” I really am sorry and for the record, totally feel for you #teamfriendzonestandtogether. So let’s quickly get this out of the way, there is no such thing at spot reduction. What’s spot reduction? Basically what the name implies, losing fat in one specific spot. When you lose fat, you lose it throughout the whole body. Now, can you target certain areas over others? Sure, just ask the guy who curls in the squat rack. If I solely dedicated my life to dumbbell curls, I would likely have less fat in my arms than the rest of my body because of that specific isolation movement. Unfortunately, this isolation doesn’t exist for your stomach. You can do 10000 sit-ups a day but unless you’re in a caloric deficit through proper dieting and/or exercise (hopefully both), you won’t lose the stomach fat. Also important to note is the genetic factor: fat distribution among a population is not equal. For some people more fat may be distributed to their stomach while for some others it may go to their legs. Naturally, if you start losing fat you will see greater reductions in some areas more than others but the constant remains that you can’t lose fat in only one specified area of the body.
Ok, here it is, the fastest way to lose fat…
Wait, sorry one more thing. Hopefully this teasing isn’t making me lose readers, I can really use all of you guys. Promise, last point, then we’ll get to the good stuff. I need to further emphasize a point I glossed over earlier. It’s a fact that people want to see results quickly, very understandable. Unfortunately, this problematic ‘quick fix’ weight loss mindset all too often leads to rebound weight gain. The person will undergo some extreme form of restrictive dieting which then leads to inevitable weight loss due to drastic reductions in calorie intake, but then what? The lack of intention to implement life style modifications for overall health leads to this on going ping-pong of weight gain, stress, extreme dieting, weight loss, back to a normal lifestyle, weight gained back on, and repeat. So before I go on to give my suggestion of quick efficient fat loss, I plead that it be used as a stepping stone to better understand and learn health and nutrition and to implement it in your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be a drastic overnight change but, rather, a mindset which has the intention to continue to improve on life style modifications. These lifestyle modifications include eating in greater moderation, tracking macros, implementing weight lifting, and cardio. Even more important, the recognition that if you have one bad day of maybe overeating, it does not have to be a downhill avalanche from there, eat a little bit less the next day and throw in some exercise.
Ok so what is one of the most convenient, short, accessible, and efficient ways to burn fat?
Beachbody home workout videos. I’m sure there are lots of great at home workout videos out there, but the one that I have personal experience and success with is from beach body. Not just me, but I personally know lots of people who have had success with their programs. The programs are brilliantly developed so that they incorporate a total body workout. The schedule of the workouts are tremendously laid out so that you get the appropriate rest for each body part as needed. The common theme that these different programs incorporate is the concept of high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT in a nutshell is basically exerting high intensity movement(s) over a short duration followed by a short period of rest. The most basic example would be sprinting on a treadmill for a minute followed by a minute of walking. Of course, with these home workouts you aren’t on a treadmill but are completing a variety of exercises which stimulate different areas of the body for a whole body work out. Here are a bunch of reasons why these at home programs will probably be awesome for you.
- It’s convenient. No gym membership, no driving, they’re all at home workouts.
- For a lot of the workouts, there is no equipment required. For those that do require some equipment, it’s very minimal and you can order it along with the dvd’s or buy them cheap on amazon.
- Go at your own pace. No feeling of embarrassment that people are watching at you. An important aspect stressed in the videos is to go at your own pace but to try your hardest. Initially, you are probably not going to be able to keep up with people on the dvd, BUT THAT’S OKAY. You can go on your own pace, but it’s important that you try your best. If you half-ass it and take longer breaks than you know you need, you’re only cheating yourself.
- More on the HIIT. The benefits of HIIT are pretty well documented and make a lot of sense. You are not going to burn fat from a 15 minute walk on a treadmill because you’re body doesn’t need to use extra sources of energy for fuel (the extra source being fat). On the other hand, when you’re doing high intensity type training, your body has to work extra hard and needs extra fuel to keep going. First, your body will go for your glucose and glycogen stores. When those run out your body starts burning FAT for energy, how exciting! So, when you’re getting tired and need that extra push during the workout just remember, that’s the FAT you will be using as energy to keep you going. Here’s a study that compared two groups, one with conventional training and another with conventional training+HIIT. After 8 weeks, both groups lost significant weight, but the group with HIIT incorporated in it had a greater reduction in visceral fat (body fat inside abdominal fat so it’s closer to the organs aka the worst kind of fat). 
- Well laid out programs. Often times people don’t know where to begin and what to do on their fitness journey. With all of the programs a full schedule is laid out for you.
- They can be used as supplemental exercises. Maybe you’re someone that already goes to the gym on occasion and are wondering what benefit these programs can have for you. Well, just because these programs are laid out as a program to be completed over a certain amount of time, that doesn’t mean they have to be used that way. Maybe there’s a few days of the week you just don’t have time to go to the gym, no problem. Slip in a dvd and you have your workout for the day.
- Most of the workouts are short. they range anywhere from as short as 25 minutes, to usually not more than an hour.
So which do I pick? Beachbody has a lot of different programs and you’re free to do your own research on them but here are the ones I’m familiar with.
- For those short on time/beginners
- T25. These short 25 minute workouts are broken down by different difficulty levels and are only 25 minutes long. Can you really not spare 25 minutes a day for a workout? Don’t get fooled by the 25 minutes either if you think it’s going to be a waste of time, you’re getting a really great and efficient workout in. The sweat afterwards will speak for itself.
- Intermediate/advanced level of fitness
- P90X or Insanity. Caution: Insanity is pretty intense. For the complete beginners, I would probably not recommend it. For those with some experience in exercising or intermediate level of fitness I think it’s worth the challenge. The important thing to remember with any of these workouts but especially with Insanity is the you have to GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. If you set your expectations at baseline with the people in the dvd, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It’s okay to take a break while they’re still going, but as soon as you get your rest you have to jump back in.
So there you have it. You’ve been complaining about wanting to lose weight about what seems like forever now. This is probably the easiest, most convenient, and most practical way you can jump on that goal NOW. Whatever the price is for the program (usually around $100-150), once you start seeing your results, you’ll consider it your greatest investment ever. The great thing about these programs is that they put you through such an effective and efficient calorie burning exercise, you’re almost guaranteed to lose weight (assuming you don’t start eating more than you were before starting the programs). Assuming that you had little to no exercise prior to the workout dvd’s, the calories you’re going to burning from these programs are going to have some kind of positive effect on your body composition; and due to their intensity and effectiveness, you can expect to see results pretty quickly. I know I sound like an annoying uncle telling you life advice, but don’t forget the most important thing: your goal should be to implement life style changes that can improve your health for the long term. Having the intention on doing these workout dvd’s for just a few months while still eating pop-tarts as 90% of your diet is not going to do you any good.
 Giannaki CD, Aphamis G, Sakkis P, Hadjicharalambous M. Eight weeks of a combination of high intensity interval training and conventional training reduce visceral adiposity and improve physical fitness: a group-based intervention. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;