How Do I Lose Stomach and Back Fat?

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question-icon-newI have a large amount of abdominal fat around my stomach and lots of back fat. It’s really making me depressed since I want to lose weight but every time I start out it seems like I get off track quickly and fail. I need some guidance. What exercises do you recommend and how many calories should I decrease in order to get rid of all the fat?

answer-icon-newThe two most important and effective methods to tighten up one’s midsection or “core” (i.e., abdominal area and trunk region) are:

  1. Proper and consistent nutrition
  2. Cardiovascular exercise

The single most important and effective method to get your midsection headed to where you want it to be is proper and consistent nutrition. Okay, great. So what does proper and consistent nutrition mean? Actually, the concept is quite simple: The proper part consists of low-fat, low-sugar foods that contain a moderate to high amount of protein in combination with quality carbohydrates that are high in fiber (i.e., fibrous carbs). You ideally want to eat three (3) medium-sized meals per day that contain these types of foods with a lean protein shake in between those meals at least twice per day for a snack. For example:

Breakfast
A good breakfast may be an eight (8) egg-white omelet cooked in extra-virgin olive oil loaded with your favorite vegetables (e.g., mushrooms, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc). Cheese is an option, but not recommended if you are really looking to shred your midsection as quickly as possible. Add two (2) slices of dry whole wheat toast and a cup of black coffee and you will be ready to attack your day.

Lunch
For lunch, you may want to knock down a grilled or blackened chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, etc (again, whatever your favorite veggies are). Adding a little ketchup, mustard or teriyaki sauce is okay, but be sure to avoid condiments like mayonnaise and ranch dressing because they do nothing but add needless calories that are counterproductive to your goal of tightening up your midsection. As far as beverages go, water is always your best option, but unsweet iced tea or sugar-free soda are also acceptable on occasion.

chicken-rice-veggies-diet

Snack
A great snack is a lean protein shake or maybe some cottage cheese with berries or a handful of nuts like almonds or walnuts.

Dinner
For dinner, some grilled or blackened salmon or similar nutrient dense fish is always a great choice. Extra virgin olive oil is always a fantastic resource to cook your fish (or virtually any food) in and be sure to hit up your fish with your favorite low sodium seasonings and spices. Great side dishes to accompany your fish are a baked sweet potato or yam and as much green fibrous veggies as you can handle (steamed broccoli, steamed asparagus, Brussels sprouts, etc). Wash it all down with some ice cold water with lemon or your favorite sugar-free beverage and you’ll be good to go!

Bedtime Snack
A great bedtime snack is a lean protein shake. When eating before bed or late at night you really want to be sure to limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars to as few as possible. Foods that are high in lean protein are the optimal solution for bedtime snacks to supply your muscles with the fuel they need to repair and rebuild.

Consistency
Dictionary.com defines consistency as “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc“. Simply put, all you need to do to achieve your goals of improving and continuing to improve your midsection is to follow the advice provided in the paragraphs above on a consistent basis. It’s important to remember that you do not have to be perfect! Striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and failure. All you need to do is be consistent and improvement will become a byproduct of your consistency!

Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise or “cardio” for short, is the second most important and effective method to get your midsection (and whole body) lean and trim. Cardio plus proper and consistent nutrition is the killer combo for fat destruction. Just like nutrition, cardio must be done properly and consistently in order to maintain any improvement you have worked so hard to get. There are many cardio routines that effectively burn fat. The routines that are right for you will depend a lot on your personal state of physical health. For example, sprinting and explosive cardio training routines are outstanding for burning fat and conditioning, but not everyone can sprint or perform some of these routines due to personal limitations such as bad knees, bad ankles, heart problems, achy joints, etc.

cardio-jogging-fat-loss

You should aim to do a cardio workout at least three (3) times per week. Whenever you do a cardio workout (except for sprint work), always do it for at least thirty (30) minutes straight with no rest (including walking) and be sure to maintain as brisk of a pace that you can handle. Ideally, shoot for 5-6 days of cardio per week consisting of 45-60 minutes each session for the best results in burning calories and overall fat. Some of the best cardio workouts include the elliptical machine, jogging, Stairclimber machine, stationary bike and power walking outside or on the treadmill. Remember: You don’t need to kill yourself with cardio – just be consistent!

Strength Training Exercises
Along with a very clean diet and proper cardio, you also want to directly hit your abs with different exercises. Here are the best ones I recommend:

To tone up the lower back, one of the best exercises is back extensions which you can review here:

By consistently hitting it from all angles (diet, cardio, strength training) you will be well on your way to reaching your fitness goal of a tight, lean midsection!

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29 Comments

  1. I am 14 and weigh 350 pounds and I need help. I’m very lazy and don’t how to motivate myself. I get so angry at myself for not even trying. I pray that God would send someone to truly help. I’m so tired of the other kids laughing at me. I pretend it’s okay but I cry inside. I really wish someone would want to help me.

    • shapefit

      Jayden – Our free fitness forum is packed with amazing members who should be able to assist you further with your journey to lose weight. You can signup and post your question today. Try to stay positive and we know you can do it 🙂

    • Helena Woelke on

      Hi Jayden, I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t think anyone deserves to feel that way…EVER! We are all human and deserve respect. we are all on a journey. Some have higher goals then others, but the important thing is that we help each other reach those goals. I will pray for you, God Bless!

    • I feel for you. That’s a lot of weight for a 14 year old and it’s robbing you of your young life. Try and think of food as a means of keeping alive, don’t live just to eat. Love and respect yourself and your body. Put in only what you need to be lean, fit and active. The rest of it is just junk which your body doesn’t need, so why put it in. Speak to your doctor or join a local diet club.They wil help you to reach your goals. Other members will support and encourage you. Read the weight loss success stories here on ShapeFit.com to give you inspiration. The young man who lost 13 stones and became a model is a truly inspirational story! He was bullied because of his size. And so was I. You can do it and you can succeed. Good luck in the future!

    • Virginia A Jimenez on

      It’s going to be okay Jayden. I used to be an overweight kid myself and used to feel awful as well. There is always hope. You don’t have to beat yourself up for not trying. The truth is, it is hard! I still struggle with my weight now in my 30’s, but I’ve never given up. I always start again. My advice is to start small! You have all the time in the world being only 15 years old. So make one change and one change only that you can stick to no matter what. In my case it was having a light dinner, like 2 boiled eggs, a cup of fat free/sugar free yogurt and maybe some fruit. Just something very light. It was the only change I made for like a month. That, along with some cardio in the morning got me down 20 pounds. I’m adding some new changes now like a light breakfast also and I’m working on losing some more. Always remember that slow and steady wins the race. Stay consistent. That means doing the same thing over and over and you will see results. Finally, take advantage of how young you are. Your body will start losing fat like crazy once you start implementing some changes. And remember, don’t give up! You are stronger than you think you are. Just do it for yourself and don’t let anybody take you down. I hope you succeed!

  2. Brandon Roberts on

    My wife has been wanting to lose some weight for a while now, but she isn’t sure what else she should do in order to do that. This being said, I really appreciate you sharing some insight with me on meal prep and how my wife should be arranging her 3 main meals. I’ll make sure I show this to her right away so she can begin working on it. Thanks a ton for this, it was a huge help.

  3. I am 57 years old and my weight is about 129 pounds. I am 5 foot 3 inches tall. I have a little back fat around my mid back where my bra goes. My midsection is not too bad. What foods should I stay away from to help this and what exercises should I be doing. I am a CNA and I lift a lot of patients along with doing plenty of walking.

    • shapefit

      Sondra – If your main concern is to lose back fat then you will need to focus on losing fat from all over your body since it’s impossible to spot reduce. Your diet is the most important factor so focus on cutting back on your starchy carbs (potatoes, rice, bread) later at night and stick with lean protein and veggies after around 5pm. Each person reacts differently to carbs so if you don’t see any improvements after 4-6 weeks of cutting out starches at night then keep slowly cutting back on your overall grams of carbohydrates you’re consuming each day. Along starches, watch your fruit intake since the fructose can spike your insulin levels and make it difficult to drop fat. For exercise, walking is great but you may also want to include a higher intensity exercise like jumping rope or jogging a few times a week. Best of luck to you 🙂

  4. I am 16 and I am trying to lose my stomach and back fat but it is hard for me because I cannot stay on track for long. My family all have big stomachs and I would like to lose mine. I currently weigh at least 160 pounds. I only have about a year and half until I will be going into the Navy and they say I am overweight. Can you please give me tips food wise and exercising to reach my goals of having a flat stomach?

    • shapefit

      Hi Maiya – In order to lose fat from all over your body (including your stomach), your diet is probably the most important factor for making life long changes. I highly recommend reading our Clean Eating Guide to learn more about which foods to focus on eating. For exercise, read our Beginner’s Guide To Fitness to learn the basics. We wish you great success in the Navy!

  5. I’ve always struggled with my weight and hate the way it makes me look. I’m ready to do something about it, but I honestly have no idea how to get started. This laid it all out perfectly for me, and I can’t wait to research more and get started on this.

  6. I’m 16 years old and weigh 176-178 pounds and I have a lot of back fat and a hanging belly. I keep getting on track with my diet and exercise plan but then my motivation and energy levels decline and I stop. I can’t seem to lose anymore weight, no matter what. I eat the right amounts of veggies and protein. I’m also a vegan so I don’t eat fat from dairy. I drink about 10 glasses of water daily and I try to avoid eating pasta, bread and rice. The cardio (running for 30 minutes) that I do makes me tired easily. I just really want to get rid of this fat and I’m not sure what else to do.

    • shapefit

      Hi Cat – The key to success with any weight loss plan is to stay dedicated to the process. It didn’t take you a few weeks or months to pack on the extra belly and back fat, so it’s definitely not going to take a few weeks to get it off. Trust the process and try your best to really stay focused in the long-term goals of getting the weight off. If you’re a vegan, you might be consuming a little more carbs than is ideal and that could be a source of your issues with gaining fat, especially when eating too many carbs at night. When in doubt, look at your diet first and see where you can make improvements.

  7. Great article. It’s pretty much the philosophy I have been doing for years. Yes, the key is consistency. However, there are a few things I would suggest I have found to work with tremendous results. One is to eliminate bread altogether. There is no difference between white bread or wheat. All bread is gluten unless it states otherwise. I have found that certain foods like bread just sticks to your body. The word gluten means glue. In addition, I have cut back carbs drastically. It’s not easy to do, but I get it. My body tells me not to have any carbs after 2pm. That is when your body begins to slow down. If you are going to have carbs then eat natural carbs which will breakdown much better then processed carbs. I’m still learning today. It’s like taking your car in for a tune up. Same for your body. Clean nutrients should go in and keep that awesome machine in top shape. I still have a little fat on my mid-section but that will be gone too. Once I figure out the mechanics about my carbs/protein ratio. If you have some tips I can implement in my conquest I would love to hear it!

    • shapefit

      Hi David – It sounds like you’re spot-on with your diet and have found great success with cutting back on carbs. If you want to shed that last little bit of fat on your stomach, try doing this great fat burning cardio workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and do it 2-3 times per week: 1 minute of jump rope (90% intensity) followed by 1 minute of burpees followed by 1 minute of high knees and then rest for 60 seconds and repeat. Do this for 25-30 minutes and you will burn a ton of calories and target your lower abs. Sip on a BCAA drink (Amino1 Cherry Limeade tastes amazing) during your workout to supply crucial amino acids to your muscles but remember to avoid eating anything before your cardio workout. This routine should help get you to the level of leanness you’re searching for. Best of luck 🙂

      • Wow, that’s a great routine! Looking forward to doing it! This for sure will eliminate the last ounce of fat remaining. Will keep you posted. Thanks for the incredible tip!

  8. I have fat located in my hips and belly which really looks odd. I go to yoga every day to reduce fat and I have stopped eating fatty foods. What else can I do?

    • shapefit

      Hi Sowmya – Yoga is a great workout but it’s not the best exercise to lose fat and tone up your body. You also want to include cardio exercise along with strength training to build lean muscle mass and burn off excess body fat. I recommend using all 3 forms of exercise in your overall workout routine and you should start seeing great results.

  9. Great article! I also have fat around my belly and waist area. Can you tell me some exercises to tackle the fat on my waist? Also, should I do cardio and strength training on the same day or on alternative days?

    • shapefit

      Hi Aviral – The main thing you want to focus on when trying to tighten up your waist and lower back is your diet along with cardio to burn off excess calories and lose body fat. All the ab exercises in the world will not reduce fat in these areas. That’s called “spot reduction”. Once you have these 2 factors locked into your overall fitness program, you can then try adding some Roman chair lower back extensions (hyperextensions), hanging leg raises and elbow-to-knees ab crunches. For cardio, you can do either but we recommend doing cardio after your weight training workout. If you’re doing cardio on alternate days, try doing it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to maximize fat burning.

    • shapefit

      Hi Hilda – You can review the diet and exercise tips in this article and it should provide insight into things to work on in order to lose fat and tighten up.

  10. brenda miller on

    I’m 57 years old. I’m top heavy with a lot of hanging fat around my stomach and back. I have tried so hard to lose weight but every time I try I end up losing 5 pounds and then gaining 10 pounds back. I feel bad around my friends and don’t want to go anywhere with them. They say I look good but inside I know I don’t!

    • shapefit

      Hi Brenda – A very important aspect of any fitness program is consistency. They key is to stay on course and not get discouraged when you slip up a little. Try to find activities and exercises that you really enjoy doing and focus on those. Ask your friends to go on a walk, join an activity group or class (kickboxing, softball, etc) or hit the gym with you. Making exercise a social event is a great way to get an effective workout and have fun while you’re doing it.

    • shapefit

      Hi Marife – The best thing to do is just follow the tips and advice in this article to help you lose the fat around your lower back.

  11. I’m 24 years old and need help losing weight in my stomach area along with my waist and lower back. I really want a flat stomach and my own normal size waist back. I weigh 181 pounds and I really want to drop down to around 145 pounds. I could really use your help.

    • shapefit

      Hi Kianna – The key to achieving the goals you want will be accomplished through eating a clean diet and exercising to burn off the excess calories and body fat. Take some time to read our Nutrition 101 article so you can learn which specific foods to include in your program to see incredible results. Your diet is extremely important for getting the results you’re after so you can tighten and tone your stomach and lower back.

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