If you are reading this, it’s safe to assume that you have belly fat and want to lose it, so you have a flat stomach instead. Good for you!
While fat can accumulate all over your body, it’s fat around your stomach that presents the most significant health risk. It’s also what the majority of people are most interested in losing. After all, who doesn’t want a flat, toned tummy?
Excess belly fat is linked to a wide range of serious diseases and early death, often regardless of your total body fat percentage (1). Fat stored around the abdomen can contribute to (2):
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attacks
- Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Colorectal cancer
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Premature death from any cause
In short, getting a flat stomach won’t just affect how you look but will also improve your health. You could even live longer!
How can you tell if your belly fat is putting your health at risk? That part is easy, and you don’t need any special blood tests or scans to find out. Your waist measurement says it all (3).
- For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more is cause for concern.
- For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more could spell trouble.
So, whether you are carrying a little or a lot of fat on your stomach, the sooner you start reducing it, the sooner you’ll be on your way to better health and a more slimline profile. But, how long does it take to get a flat stomach, and what do you have to do to shed that unwanted belly fat?
Keep reading to find out!
How Long Does It Take to Get a Flat Stomach?
Bad news, folks. It’s impossible to tell you exactly how long it will take to get a flat stomach because there are lots of variables that will determine your progress. Everyone is an individual and, as such, we can’t predict how quickly (or slowly) you’ll lose stomach fat.
Some factors are modifiable, and you can control them, so you lose fat faster. Other factors are unmodifiable, and you’ll just have to deal with the cards you’ve been dealt.
The factors that will determine how long it will take to get a flat stomach include:
How much fat you have to lose
Needless to say, it’ll probably take you longer to get a flat stomach if you are more overweight. Sadly, you cannot preferentially target abdominal fat, and you’ll lose fat from all over your body as you work toward getting a flatter stomach.
How dedicated you are
Losing abdominal fat will require some effort and perseverance. You’ll need to work out and eat healthily. If you are consistent, you should make good progress toward your goal. But, if you skip workouts and keep breaking your diet, your progress won’t be as fast. In general, the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be.
Before you start blaming your genetics for your rounded belly, understand that while your genes can have an effect on stomach fat, that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim of your genetics.
Everyone can lose belly fat, providing they take the necessary steps. However, you may lose it faster or slower because of certain genetic traits. Some people tend to be more android or apple-shaped and prone to belly fat storage. Others are more gynoid or pear-shaped, and they tend to store fat more on their hips and thighs.
There is nothing you can do about genetics. However, irrespective of your biological programming, you can still lose weight and get a flat stomach. It just might take a little longer.
So, while we can’t tell you how long it will take to get a flat stomach, we can tell you that it’ll probably take longer if you don’t get started soon! The longer you wait, the more fat you will likely accumulate, and the harder you’ll have to work to shift it. So, don’t delay and start today.
Related: Body Type Quiz: Find Your Body Type Endomorph, Ectomorph, or Mesomorph?
How to Get A Flat Stomach
Given the information above, you are probably keen to get started on your journey to losing fat and getting a flat stomach. These are the strategies you need to use to reach your goal.
1. Create a calorie deficit
Fat is basically stored calories. When you eat too much, any unused calories are turned into fat and then saved for later. So, to burn fat, you need to eat less. This is called creating a calorie deficit.
The number of calories you burn per day is called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE for short. Your TDEE is made up of three components:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the number of calories you burn per 24 hours at rest
- Thermal Effect of Activity (TEA) – the number of calories you burn during physical activity
- Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) – the number of calories you burn processing the food you eat
While there are equations you can use to determine your TDEE, the easiest way is to use an online TDEE calculator. Then, once you know your TDEE, simply subtract 300-500 calories from that number to create a calorie deficit. That’s how many calories you need to eat to lose weight.
Adjust and track your food intake to make sure you hit this number every day.
Related: Calorie Deficit Calculator
2. Eat healthy, filling foods
So long as you create a calorie deficit, you can lose weight by eating almost any kind of food, including junk food. However, eating fewer calories usually means smaller, less filling meals, and that often leads to hunger.
Hunger is your body’s normal response to eating less, and it can drive you to break your diet and go back to overeating. Because of this, it’s best to eat filling, low-calorie foods.
For example, a cookie and an apple contain roughly the same number of calories. But, where cookies aren’t very filling, and you’ll be tempted to eat more than one, a single apple will probably fill you up and ward off hunger for several hours.
The most filling foods are usually those that are high in fiber or protein. The least filling are highly refined and foods that contain lots of sugar.
Good weight loss foods include
- Beans and legumes
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Leafy greens
- Lean beef
- Natural yogurt and cottage cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
Remember, though, that your calorie intake is the most crucial factor for losing weight and getting a flat stomach. You MUST be in a calorie deficit to force your body to burn fat for fuel.
As you lose fat, you may find that your stomach is actually bloated, and any roundness is not only caused by accumulated fat. Bloating is common and often caused by food sensitivities and digestive issues.
You may be able to reduce bloating and flatten your stomach faster by:
- Drinking more water
- Eliminating lactose and gluten from your diet
- Eating less salt
- Eating less sugar
- Getting more sleep
- Reducing stress
- Eating more fiber
- Taking a probiotic supplement
3. Start (or continue) exercising regularly
While you can lose weight through dieting alone, you’ll lose weight faster if you add exercise into the mix. Exercise serves several purposes when trying to get a flat stomach:
Increased calorie expenditure
Exercise, like all types of physical activity, burns calories and will contribute to your calorie deficit. The more significant the shortfall, the faster you’ll lose weight. Also, exercising more means you can afford to eat a little more while still losing fat.
Preservation of muscle mass
Fat loss is often accompanied by muscle loss. Losing muscle mass will lower your BMR, leading to slower progress. Exercising, and especially lifting weights, will preserve your muscle mass so you can lose fat faster.
Increased insulin sensitivity
Exercise makes your muscle cells more insulin sensitive. This means the food you eat is more likely to be sorted in your muscles and less likely to be converted to and stored as fat. Exercise creates a better environment for fat burning while minimizing fat storage.
Good for your general health
There is no escaping the fact that exercise is good for almost every aspect of your health. Belly fat is a significant health risk, and regular workouts could help mitigate the dangers of being overweight.
Target those abs!
While you can’t preferentially burn abdominal fat with abs exercises, you can tighten and tone the underlying muscles. Combined with a sensible diet and general workout program, working your abs could help you flatten your stomach faster.
To get a flat stomach, you should combine strength training with cardio. Also, try to be more active between workouts by walking and doing other physical activities. This will add to your calorie expenditure, leading to faster progress.
4. Monitor your progress
Eating less and exercising more should give you the results you want. But you may need to fine-tune things to make faster progress. Monitor your results to make sure your efforts are really paying off.
You could just weigh yourself, but not losing weight doesn’t mean you aren’t losing belly fat. Also, your weight fluctuates from day to day depending on things like hydration levels and how much undigested food is in your stomach.
So, instead, measure your waist at least weekly to see if you are losing abdominal fat. So long as your waist measurement decreases, the strategies you are using are working; keep it up!
But, if your waist measurement remains unchanged, you may need to increase your calorie deficit and/or do more physical activity.
Record your waist measurements so you can see your progress. As your waist measurement decreases, you should find your motivation levels increasing. Remember too that every inch you lose means your health should also improve.
5. Keep at it!
While we can’t tell you how long it will take to get a flat stomach, we can tell you it’ll take a whole lot longer if you keep skipping workouts or breaking your diet. So, if you want to reach your goal as fast as possible, you need to be consistent.
Increase your odds of success by eating foods and doing workouts you enjoy. This may take a little experimentation, but your efforts will be rewarded. If you are dreading your next workout or diet-friendly meal, your chances of quitting are much higher.
But, if you are looking forward to your meals and workouts, it’ll be less of a chore, and you’re more likely to stay the course.
So, forget about timeframes like one week or one month; getting a flat stomach will probably take longer than that. Instead, be prepared to keep at it for the long term. Remember, too, that while it might take several months to flatten your stomach, every healthy meal and workout takes you one step closer to your goal and is also good for your health.
How to Get Abs
While a flat stomach is a great fitness target, some people want to take things a step further and develop defined, toned abs. They might even want a fully developed six-pack.
The good news is that if you are already losing abdominal fat, you’re well on your way to getting abs. All you need to do is stick with what you are doing.
The difference between a flat stomach and defined abs is your percentage of body fat. The less fat you have on your body, the more your abs will show through. Your abs will also be more visible if you train them hard to make the abdominal wall a little thicker.
Check out our guide to developing washboard abs to take your flat stomach to the next level!
So, ramp up your workouts, tighten up your diet, and stay consistent. That’s how you turn a flat stomach into defined abs.
Flat Stomach – Wrapping Up
We can’t tell you how long it will take to get a flat stomach. Your personal circumstances and the amount of effort you put in will determine how fast you lose fat around your abdomen. However, the one thing we can tell you is your efforts will pay off, both in terms of your appearance and your health.
The best way to get a flat stomach is to combine a sensible, sustainable diet with regular strength and cardio workouts. Doing things like 100 crunches a day won’t do much for you. To change your body, you need to change your lifestyle. There are no shortcuts.
So, if you want to get a flat stomach fast, you’d better start as soon as possible. Clean out your cupboard of junk food, buy lots of healthy groceries, plan your meals, and start working out. You’ll soon be on your way to a flatter, more toned stomach, and better health.
1 – British Medical Journal: Excess Belly Fat Linked to A Higher Risk of Early Death Regardless of Total Body Fat ( bmj.com)
2 – PubMed: A Review of The Association Between Abdominal Fat Distribution, Health Outcome Measures, And Modifiable Risk Factors (Pubmed)
3 – PubMed: A Pooled Analysis of Waist Circumference and Mortality in 650,000 Adults (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)