From Fat Belly to Flat Belly in 12 Weeks

Learn How to Lose that Belly Fat Fast

Combo Crunch
Combo Crunch. (c) Paul Rogers

Before we investigate the 12-week program for losing belly fat, a little background is worthwhile.

Body fat can be influenced by diet, exercise and genetics. Body fat percentage is that percentage of body mass that is not made up of bone, muscle, connective tissue and fluids -- that is, everything else. Body fat stored under the skin is thought to be less unhealthy than fat stored around the internal organs.

Assessing Body Fat

Although you should feel free to consider your body fat for fitness and weight management purposes, your doctor (perhaps with the assistance of a nutrition professional) is the best person to make health risk assessments. He or she will take all of your disease risk factors into account, such as blood cholesterol, glucose measurements, body fat, and fitness level. Some healthy people carry more natural body fat than others.

Body Mass Index or BMI

The body mass index is a body weight and height formula designed to provide a snapshot of your body fatness. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared. The easiest way to calculate this is to use an online calculator like this one from the US Heart Blood and Lung Institute. It allows you to calculate your BMI using pounds, feet, and inches as well as in kilograms and metres.

The BMI categories are as follows:

  • Normal weight = 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight = 25 to 29.9
  • Obese = 30 or greater

The BMI gets consistently criticized by exercise professionals because athletes or other heavily muscled people are not factored in. That tends to skew the results by placing bodybuilders and heavily built people in the overweight category.

This is not accurate.

Yet BMI is only one tool in the hands of experienced health professionals. A keen eye plus a waist measurement is often all that is required to establish if someone is overweight.

Waist Measurement

Waist measurement is a useful risk assessment tool for both men and women. Naturally, a thin waist does not necessarily a healthy person make -- you could be malnourished or ill from any number of chronic diseases. Yet waist measurement as a guide to body fatness can be indicative of one's risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Here are the healthy waist sizes for men and women based on the International Diabetes Federation consensus worldwide definition of metabolic syndrome:

  • Caucasian men: 37 inches (94 centimetres)
  • Caucasian women: 31.5 inches (80 centimetres)

Values for other groups may be different; Asians' may be lower while those for Pacific Islanders may be higher.

The Fat Belly to Flat Belly Program

Naturally the results of this program depend on how much you have to achieve.

If your BMI is over 30, 12 weeks will almost certainly not be long enough to achieve a flat stomach. Be reasonable with expectations. There is no magic.

Second, the fitness program is only one part of your 12-week program. You must cut calories by around 15-20% to get the energy deficit required. You will do weights to keep your muscle stable as you lose fat.

Weeks 1-4

  • Walk or slow jog or mixture for 30 minutes, 2 days / week
  • Basic Strength and Muscle Program, 1 day / week
  • Beginners Circuit Program, 2 days / week

Weeks 5-8

  • Slow jog 30 minutes, 2 days / week. Walking breaks if necessary.
  • Basic Strength and Muscle Program, 1 day / week
  • Intermediate Circuit Program, 2 days / week

Weeks 9-12

Circuit Training

Circuit training is a combination of various exercises performed in sequence. In a weight training circuit, you move quickly or even jog between exercises, with little rest. This keeps the heart rate high, provides further intensity in the actual weight lifting exercise, and generally qualifies as high-intensity exercise if you keep on the move.

In summary, although it's useful to do some high-intensity exercise like the advanced circuit, it's not easy for beginners who are unfit. It's not worth being disappointed and discouraged when this sort of exercise does not work for you. As long as you put in the time, most forms of exercise will work for belly fat loss at some level as long as you increase your exercise and decrease your calorie intake.

Start slowly with low-intensity exercise, or even very short bursts of high-intensity exercise, and progressively move up to the harder stuff as you get fitter. Note that you don't have to do excessive abdominal exercises like crunches. Belly fat will reduce in line with overall fat loss. At the same time, abdominal exercises are excellent for building good looking abs and strength.


Irving BA, Davis CK, Brock DW, et al. Effect of exercise training intensity on abdominal visceral fat and body composition. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Nov;40(11):1863-72.

Continue Reading