Want to know the secret to getting rid of your stubborn lower belly fat fast?
Getting rid of your lower belly fat can seem near impossible. Stubborn lower belly fat always seems like the last to go no matter what you do.
You can try everything to get rid of that stupid fat below your belly button without any results to show for it. Even if you lose weight you can still have the dreaded lower belly pooch.
You may have made progress with losing weight but hitting a plateau with a stubborn low belly pooch can be frustrating.
The real secret to getting rid of your hanging belly fat is going to be different from what you did to get results so far. Stubborn lower belly flab has to be approached differently since those last handful of pounds will be hormonal.
Most people just try to use a calorie deficit diet to lose the lower belly pooch. But this can also make your body hold onto the lower belly fat for dear life.
Even if you try cutting more calories even harder your body will respond by fighting back against this extreme dieting.
It is more possible to get rid of that stubborn lower belly fat but it’s not nearly as straightforward as basic weight loss advice.
It can be confusing to know what exactly you need to do to finally shed that annoying bottom stomach fat.
But here you’ll find out what works to optimize your hormones so it’ll be forced to burn those last stubborn pounds of fat on your belly bottom.
The Real Cause of Low Belly Fat
There are a few causes of low belly fat you’ll need to know about.
The first is from eating too much. This is an obvious cause since eating too many calories will cause your body to store these excess calories as fat.1
Your body has a survival mechanism to store this fat in case you run out of food in the future.2
Too high body fat is also another cause. If you don’t have enough muscle in your body then you’ll have more stubborn fat spots.
Muscle helps to tone, tighten and shape your body making it leaner and easier to burn fat. Muscle itself also burns fat.3
But with age, you’ll start to have less and less muscle as the years go by unless you’re weightlifting4. As your muscle decreases, and then your fat increases, you’ll end up having a higher body fat and more stubborn fat such as on your belly.
Hormones also play a big part in losing those last stubborn pounds of fat. If your hormones aren’t optimized for burning fat then it’ll be like pushing a boulder up a hill.
Once you have your hormones optimized for fat burning it’ll make getting rid of those last stubborn pounds of belly fat much easier.
Stubborn lower belly fat is not only unsightly but also very bad for your health. This study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found women who carried more weight in their midsection had a 10 to 20% greater risk of having a heart attack.5
Men tend to have more belly fat than women. Women tend to carry extra fat in their hips and thighs while men tend to carry it in the belly.6
Your genetics can account for as much as 56% of your belly fat.8 But just because you’re fighting against your genetics doesn’t mean you can’t beat them.
Why It’s So Hard to Lose Fat in the Lower Belly
Think of belly fat as your body’s rainy day piggy bank. Back in our ancestor’s early days they always didn’t have easy access to food. They could go days, weeks, or even months without anything to eat.
So when they did come across some food their bodies had a way to store the extra calories and carbohydrates for future use.
Your body will stubbornly hold onto the fat in these stubborn fat spots because it only wants to use it as a last resort.
Skinny fat is when your body becomes more flabby, saggy, and loose making the low belly flab appear even worse.11
This is why it’s crucial to have some level of resistance training in your workouts to regain this lost muscle.12 You don’t have to bulk up like a bodybuilder, but you will need some muscle to tone and tighten your body.
Otherwise, just cutting calories and walking/running more can keep breaking down muscle and not improving your body fat composition.
Out-of-whack hormones can make it near impossible to burn those last pounds of stomach fat. If your hormones aren’t optimized for fat burning then they could easily instead be optimized for storing belly fat.
So you could be restricting calories, working out, and eating better foods but if your hormones are out-of-whack then you’ll quickly replace whatever you burned off right back into your belly.
10 Best Ways to Get Rid of the Stubborn Lower Belly Fat
Here you’ll discover the best ways to finally get rid of the lower belly pooch. Now you don’t have to be doing all of these to get results but implementing these methods at some level will get results.
Hormones That Cause Belly Fat
Believe it or not, your hormones may be sabotaging you as they cause you to store more stubborn belly fat. Hormones play a big role in where your body stores fat such as your belly.13
Your hormones can very well be the hidden underlying cause of why you have stubborn lower belly fat and aren’t able to get rid of it.
Leptin is known as the “anti-starvation hormone”. It controls a number of different metabolic processes in your body that can enhance fat loss.
The leptin in your body comes from your fat cells. So the less fat you have on your body the less leptin you’re going to have.14
As you begin cutting calories your leptin levels will also naturally go down. And when your leptin levels drop too far they will also begin to slow down your metabolism.15
This is because your body doesn’t want to starve to death. So it will slow down your metabolism in order to keep its energy preserved and last longer.
This is one of the reasons why having a cheat meal can be a good idea. It can help to replenish these leptin levels so you can keep burning fat optimally.
Insulin is produced in your pancreas and helps to transport nutrients from the foods you eat into the cells of your body.
Insulin can slow down the rate of fat loss too. It does this by slowing down the mobilization of fatty acids after they are released from your fat cells.16
This is one of the main reasons why it’s so important to limit your sugar and refined carb intake. When your body becomes insulin resistant your body basically isn’t able to properly utilize insulin anymore.
If you used to be overweight from eating too many bad carbs then there’s a good chance your insulin is messed up.
Cutting out these bad carbs and sugars from your diet is key. But also making sure you’re doing the right kind of exercise will help to combat insulin resistance in your body.
Ghrelin is also known as the “hunger hormone.” Your body releases ghrelin when it’s time to eat and causes you to feel hungry.17
Ghrelin is made in your stomach and can be released when you’re in stressful situations. This explains why people who are “emotional eaters” get hungry when stressed and end up with a stress belly.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that having too much ghrelin pumping in your body will cause you to overeat and gain weight.
I used to be an advocate for having more smaller meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable.
But the problem this causes is it makes your body used to eating every couple of hours. Then unless your meals are already fully prepared it makes it very easy to overeat causing you to gain weight.
Calorie restriction is essential for weight loss but if you cut your calories too much then it’ll significantly raise your ghrelin levels.18
This is why you can get that crazy hunger when dieting. For many, it’s too hard and they end up giving up on the diet altogether.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. Your body will release cortisol when your body is going through emotional or physical stress.
Yale University found that stress-induced cortisol can lead to gaining belly fat. This study even found women could be thin and healthy but could still have belly fat due to higher stress levels.19
So if you can’t seem to get rid of your lower belly fat then there’s a good chance you have chronically elevated cortisol levels.
Cortisol combines with insulin to create the fat-storing enzyme lipoprotein lipase. This enzyme promotes fat distribution to your abdomen causing visceral belly fat.20
Cortisol is also bad for belly fat since it can eat away at your muscle. Cortisol provides amino acid delivery when protein levels are low.21
And it does so by taking them away from your muscle. You want to keep your muscle because it’ll help to tone your body and abs.
Lowering the stress in your life as well as doing the right exercises will help to lower your cortisol levels.
Your body will naturally release some growth hormone from exercise. It will combat the cortisol that’s pumping through your body.
Belly Fat Burning Exercises
Having a basic weightlifting routine combined with cardio will help tone up and tighten your body. You’ll gain some lean muscle mass while burning body fat resulting in a leaner and slimming physique.
But the best thing you can do to target your belly fat with exercise is to combine HIIT workouts and specifically targeted exercises for your abs.
Intense exercise will be most effective for getting rid of stubborn lower belly fat. Catecholamines are released with intense exercise which drives the release of fat, especially from the stomach area.22
Most trainers are quick to tell you that spot reduction (a.k.a. targeted exercises) is a total myth. But the truth is you can tone the area and encourage fat loss to it with the right kind of exercise.
A study by the American Journal Of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism found the breakdown of fat tissue is the greatest next of working muscles. The problem is that this fat loss was very small.23
Yet, considering you’re trying to get rid of those last pounds of lower belly fat it can be beneficial towards getting these results.
So to burn off that last bit of stubborn low stomach fat try combining a HIIT workout with lower ab targeted exercises.
Studies have found HIIT training to be up to 9 times more effective than traditional slow-go cardio for fat loss. You’ll also burn more abdominal fat with high-intensity exercise than slow-go cardio.24
But if you can’t do the higher intensity exercise then can work too but will probably take longer. Excess intense exercise can end up causing elevated cortisol from overtraining. So there is a place for slow-go cardio too.
Resistance training with HIIT workouts will also help to cure the “skinny fat” high body fat percentage problem too.
For the best belly fat-burning workout plan check out The Flat Belly Formula. It contains a full 16-week exercise program with workouts that are less than 30 minutes that’ll burn the maximum amount of fat.
Another tactic to burn that last bit of lower belly flab is to work out while fasting.
Since you won’t have anything in your body to use for fuel your body will be forced to burn through your fat stores instead.
Try doing fasted cardio as you can burn up to 20% more body fat in the morning on an empty stomach according to this study.25 This works since your body has no choice but to take energy stores from your belly fat.
Intermittent fasting is one of the best dieting methods to lose weight and burn body fat. Working out while you’re fasting makes it easier to tap into your stubborn fat for fuel.
Lift weights first to burn through glycogen (stored carbs) and then do cardio after. After burning through your stored glycogen your body then turns to your fat stores for fuel.26
So doing cardio post-weights will elicit the best fat burning. And you don’t have to do intense exercise if you really don’t feel like it. You can also do a HIIT workout combined with the lower ab targeted exercises.
The trick is to work out towards the end of your fasting window when your body is the most depleted of nutrients. This is your body’s prime fat-burning time.
Sweat belts might seem like a gimmick that you’ll see on a late-night infomercial, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective in certain situations.
Most times I don’t really like to recommend wearing a sweat belt. If all you’re doing is wearing a sweat belt then that’s like trying to shoot down a battleship with a BB gun.
But since you’re trying to shed those last pounds of lower belly fat it can help accomplish this goal.
Wearing a sweat belt while exercising will increase how much your stomach sweats by increasing heat in the area. This will pull water out of your stomach area making it slimming.
Of course, you’ll most likely quickly regain all of it back once you rehydrate. But the real trick with a sweat belt is increasing heat towards the targeted area of your stomach.
Blood flow is a critical part of fat loss and fattier parts of your body are colder than leaner parts. It’s no shock stubborn fat spots on the body are colder and have worse blood flow such as the abs and love handles.27
So by wearing a sweat belt while exercising you can increase the heat and blood flow to your stomach.
By redirecting blood flow to the colder fattier area of your stomach region you’ll encourage more fat to be released too.
Spot reduction is a myth when you’re talking about general weight loss. But if you’re trying to get rid of those last stubborn pounds of belly fat it can work.
Old school bodybuilders would work their abs over and over again to slim them down. They were onto something… when it comes down to getting those last bit of results then targeting the area can work.
Low Belly Fat Diet Plan
You won’t be able to lose the last of your lower belly fat if you don’t get your diet under control.
You can be doing everything right with your workouts but if you’re overeating and eating bad foods then you’ll never get results.
The first step is to have an overall state of calorie deficit. You’re going to have to consume fewer calories than you’re burning off.
To lose body fat, a calorie deficit is needed to encourage the burning of fat stores and to keep more fat from packing on.
Start tracking what you’re eating with a food journal or calorie counting app. People greatly underestimate just how many calories they’re eating on a given day by up to 50%.28
Tracking exactly what you’re eating will give you the essential measurement of how many calories you’re really consuming.
But you also don’t want to take calorie restriction to an extreme. Cutting your calories too drastically for too long will have a disastrous impact.
Your hunger will go up really high making it near impossible to keep restricting calories. Then you’ll give up on the diet altogether.
And your body will enter a state of “metabolic slowdown.”
It thinks you’re starving so your body will slow down your metabolism making it near impossible to burn those last pounds of belly fat. This is the equivalent of the hamster endlessly running on the wheel without going anywhere.
The trick is to cut your calories so you encourage fat burning without making yourself miserable and slowing down your metabolism.
I like to strategically cut my calories but also have a re-feed with a cheat meal sometimes.
You’ll bring back up your leptin levels to promote fat burning again now that your body doesn’t think it’s starving.
And it’s psychologically rewarding to take a quick break from your diet without fear of losing all of your results.
Adding intermittent fasting to your diet plan can really take your results up to another level. Fasting works for fat loss for a few reasons…
- Instant calorie reduction
- Promotion of fat-burning hormones
- Utilization of body fat for fuel
With intermittent fasting, you’ll cycle between periods of fasting and feeding. A typical fasting window is 16-20 hours per day.
During your fasting window, you’ll usually be skipping breakfast which will instantly cut down on calories consumed for the day.29
Your insulin levels will also lower which creates a favorable condition for your body to burn fat.
Improving insulin sensitivity is key to metabolic health and burning fat. Fasting is one of the best ways to keep your insulin low and stable.30
Fasting also increases growth hormone which is beneficial for lean muscle mass and fat burning.31
Norepinephrine is also increased which stimulates the release of fatty acids from your fat cells to burn off as fuel.32
Without any fuel sources from food coming in your body will turn to your body fat for fuel. It does so by creating ketones from your fat as its fuel source.
You can add C8-MCTs to your morning coffee to boost your body’s ability to create ketones from fat stores during your fasting window:
Support Many of the Keto Benefits Associated With Increased Ketones, & Support Them FAST, but Without the Difficulty of Doing Keto...
- 3X Better Than Coconut Oil, Butter or MCTs
- Heightened energy levels
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Low Carb / Carb Cycling
Reducing your carbs will play a big part in getting rid of the bottom belly fat.
Carbs can spike your blood sugar and cause an insulin release. This promotes the storage of calories in fat stores.
The blood sugar spike caused by eating bad carbs will inevitably result in a blood sugar drop. When your blood sugar drops you’ll start to crave more sugars and carbs to bring it back up.
This puts you on a roller coaster blood sugar spike and drops for the rest of the day.
This study found low-carb diets helped to target fat in the belly.33 But you don’t have to completely give up carbs but focus on eliminating the bad ones:
- high-glycemic foods
- refined grains
- processed foods
- fruit juices
So make sure you cut out refined carbohydrates like pasta, breads, and cereals.
Sugar has no place in your diet when trying to shed belly fat and even though they aren’t great you’re better off replacing them with zero-calorie artificial sweeteners.
This means no sugary sodas, fruit juices, or sports drinks as all packed with sugar.
Make sure if you’re taking a protein powder that it also doesn’t contain a lot of sugar. Many food manufacturers sneak in sugars to make their products tastier.
Not all fruit has to be completely avoided as it’s better than eating a candy bar if you have a sweet tooth. If you want fruit then be sure to keep to this list of the best fruits to eat for weight loss.
I’ll usually carb cycle throughout the week. I’ll drastically cut down on carbs at the beginning of the week and then have a small refeed in the middle of the week.
Then cut back down for a couple of days until the weekend and then you can splurge a little more on the carbs.
Make sure you’re eating more protein in your diet as well. Protein is highly satiating meaning it will help you stay feeling fuller longer so you don’t overeat.35
This study in Nutrition And Metabolism found the amount and the quality of the protein led to participants having less belly fat.36 Protein helps to lower your body fat percentage by increasing your muscle.
I try to aim for up to 1g of protein per pound of body weight. If you have a hard time getting enough protein in your diet then use a low-carb protein shake.
Only 4g of net carbs but 24g and 150 calories in each protein shake. Fights hunger, supports lean muscle & toning the body.
- 24g of grass-fed protein from pasture-raised cows
- cold-processed for highest quality undenatured bioactive protein
- gut friendly prebiotics + digestive enzymes for maximum protein absorption and easy digestion
Eat Less Inflammatory Foods
The last part to get down with dieting is to eat non-inflammatory foods. You’re already most of the way there when you kick out the sugars, refined grains, and processed foods.
Processed foods are heavy in bad seed oils. These seed oils cause inflammation in the body which not only causes your body to age faster than it should but also makes it harder to burn fat stores.
Seed oils go through a heavy manufacturing process that strips them of their beneficial nutrients. What’s left is a highly oxidized and high omega-6 fatty acid product.
Studies have found people lost belly fat just by taking an omega-3 supplement despite no changes to their diet or exercise plan.37
Your gut health will also improve once you stop consuming inflammatory foods. Poor gut health makes it easier to overeat by increasing ghrelin levels.
Try taking a probiotic or greens powder supplement to improve gut health. This study by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that taking probiotics led to a significant reduction in visceral belly fat.38
Alcohol should also be limited when trying to cut down stubborn low belly fat. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram which is almost double that of protein and carbs.
Your body prioritizes burning off the alcohol instead of burning off calories consumed and body fat.
Drinking alcohol also makes it easier to consume sugar and other high-calorie fatty foods. Alcohol can wear down your intestinal lining worsening gut health.39
If you must drink alcohol then be sure to pick the best alcohol for weight loss.
Getting enough soluble fiber in your diet will also help to reduce your lower belly fat. One study found eating 10g of soluble fiber per day was linked to a 3.7% reduction in belly fat.40
More Sleep + Less Stress
The better your sleep and the less stress you have then the better off you’ll be losing your lower belly fat.
When constantly stressed your body releases the hormone cortisol leading to belly fat. Without enough proper sleep then that will also cause a rise in cortisol.
Cortisol will activate reward centers in your brain that crave junk food. If you’ve ever been stressed out or sleep deprived then it’s a lot easier to crave high-calorie fatty foods.41
Improving your sleep quality is one of the least effort things you can do to get results. Most need 7-8 hours of sleep and it’s better to get to bed earlier than later.
Also, try to avoid alcohol too late otherwise it could negatively impact your ability to reach deep REM sleep.42
This study found even one night of sleep deprivation can lead to increases in ghrelin.43 Ghrelin raises hunger and it’s one of the reasons why you want to eat more when you’re sleep deprived.
Another study also found you’ll have less self-control when you’re not getting enough sleep.44 So when sleep deprived you’ll be hungrier, crave fatty foods, and have less self-control. All the perfect storm for belly fat.
Of course, it’s impossible to stay stress-free unless you’re living on a Caribbean beach. There are things you can do to minimize the stress in your life and lower the cortisol in your body.
Mindfulness practices like meditation can help. One study found people practicing mindfulness have less belly fat and they’re less likely to be obese.45
Getting rid of that stubborn lower belly fat can be frustrating since what worked before to get results probably isn’t going to keep working.
Most hit a plateau when they’re trying to shed those last pounds of stomach fat.
This is from just doing what they were doing before or just increasing what they did before like cutting more calories and working out harder for longer.
Now, this can work but it’ll be like beating your body down and fighting against its survival instincts.
It’s your body’s job to focus on surviving. The body holds onto stubborn fat for a future famine to save you from starving to death.
And if you just cut calories more then your metabolism slows down as a result.
The trick to losing that stubborn belly fat on the bottom is to get your hormones optimized for fat burning. Your hormones play a crucial role when losing those last pounds.
So now that you know what works to break through the plateau it’s time to put these methods into action so you can finally lose the lower belly fat for good.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and he’s a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) by American Council on Exercise. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college levels. He has over 15 years of experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He strives to bring inspiration and results for people to live healthier lives through smart diet and exercise.