Belly fat and pregnancy: Here are the important things to know
A lot of our Healthy Mummy community ask questions about how to lose belly fat, but what about if you’re planning to get pregnant soon? Is there really any point in figuring out how to get rid of belly fat if you’re (hopefully) going to rock a beautiful pregnant belly in the next year or so?
Well, actually there is!
In this article, we’ll review the studies, stats, and tips for losing belly fat to get into top shape before you try to get pregnant.
Jump ahead to read more:
- What causes belly fat?
- How to lose belly fat before pregnancy
- Our favourite recipes for losing belly fat
What causes belly fat?
First of all, before we talk about how to lose belly fat, let’s look at the causes. So, why do some women have more belly fat than others?
- Genetics – as you’ve probably suspected, your body shape (and whether you’re more inclined to get belly fat vs hip fat) comes from your parents
- Age – post-menopausal women are much more likely to have excess weight stored on their tummy that was previously on their hips
- Lifestyle – women who spend a lot of time sitting down and inactive are more likely to have excess fat on their tummy
- Diet – eating an unhealthy diet will contribute to extra belly fat, especially if the other factors above (genetics, age, and lifestyle) all lineup
But just because you’ve got extra belly fat (and a few of the factors above) doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. There’s no better time than the present to finally get on the path to better health and figure out how to lose belly fat.
Why lose abdominal fat before you get pregnant
Studies show that abdominal fat in early pregnancy can lead to diabetes later on… so if you’re thinking of having your first baby (or another baby), it’s actually a great idea to work on tightening up before you get pregnant (again).
Belly fat is also referred to as “visceral fat” and it’s not just a good idea to lose it because you’re planning for a baby. Some other really important reasons to drop the weight from your tummy are:
- It’s a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes
- It can lead to heart disease
- You’re more likely to experience negative moods and higher stress levels
- It’s associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery
- It can make you feel less comfortable in your own skin
How to lose belly fat before pregnancy
You’re super eager to have that new precious bundle in your arms (oh, don’t we know it!) but you want to do the right thing for your health – and your baby’s. So follow these tips on how to lose belly fat (quickly and sustainably) to get your body baby-ready.
The good news is that compared to other types of fat (like the fat on your legs, hips, and bottom), tummy fat is a lot easier to shift! So if you put in the work and follow the tips below, you’ll probably start to see results even sooner than you’d expected.
So to avoid adding to the belly fat (and start reducing the cm’s on your tummy), here’s what you can do:
Get more sleep
Not enough sleep means your hormones get out of whack, and your appetite goes through the roof! When you’re overtired, your ghrelin levels go up (hunger hormone) and leptin levels go down (the feeling of fullness), which means you’re more hungry, less satisfied, and more likely to overeat. So make sure you get enough sleep! Plus, as every mum will tell you… get your sleep NOW while you still can!
Read about the 11 hormones and enzymes that impact belly fat.
Move your body
Exercise will help you feel amazing and healthier. But if you’re mainly looking to lose belly fat from exercising and you’re short on time, do HIIT training to get your heart rate up and burn the fat! You can also do weights and resistance training to build muscle and shift the weight in your tummy area. But (and this is a BIG but!) don’t focus too much on exercise – it’s important, but we believe getting your diet right comes first.
Check out these 5 best exercises for blasting belly fat.
Change your diet
Eat less refined foods and sugar because your body converts these into fat stores when you eat too much of them at once. And at the same time, eat more high-fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eat food that makes you feel full for longer – high protein foods like lean meats and beans are great for this! One more tip is to try and eat more fatty fish – the good protein and omega-3 fats in fish have actually been shown to protect you against excess tummy fat! It might sound like a lot of changes, now, but making better food choices is a lot easier when you follow a healthy meal plan.
Watch what you drink
Cut the alcohol now and you’ll automatically trim out a whole lot of extra calories. You’re going to have to do it as soon as you know you’re pregnant anyway, so why not start now and enjoy the health benefits? And instead of flavoured cold drinks like iced tea or soft drinks, choose water every single time. You might also want to swap your usual coffee, hot chocolate, or milky tea for an antioxidant-packed green tea. Or to get more good nutrients in your diet and feel full for longer, you could drink a Healthy Mummy weight loss smoothie for breakfast.
Cut the stress
High-stress levels have been shown to contribute to extra belly fat (and they’re not good for the baby, either, once you get pregnant). Even just being conscious of how you’re breathing can help reduce your stress, and therefore impact how much you want to eat. So work on strategies to reduce stress in your work and home life now and it’ll be better for your health now and in the future.
There are a hundred answers on how to lose belly fat but if you overlook this one, you’ll give up before you start to see results. It’s so important that you stay motivated on your journey, whether you’ve got lots or just a little belly weight to lose. Start by writing down your goals, taking down your measurements, and writing out the steps you plan to take to achieve them. And then track your progress as you go along so you can see that it’s working. You might schedule one day a month to do a weigh in and tummy measurement… or you might just notice one day that your go-to pair of pants is a little too big! Every milestone and achievement are worth celebrating.
It’s so important that you don’t treat your journey to lose belly fat as a diet – it’s a lifestyle change. One that you’ll take with you throughout pregnancy and beyond.
When you’re still figuring out how to lose belly fat and need to stay motivated, it’s so much easier if you can find the right, supportive community. You’re not the only one on the journey, so why not surround yourself by fellow mums and mums-to-be with the experience (and dedication) to improve their health. The Healthy Mummy is the largest mums-only weight loss community in the world… come join us!
Our favourite recipes for losing belly fat
We’re all about giving you healthy recipes that support your weight loss journey, including getting rid of belly fat. Here are a few of our top picks and go-to recipes that’ll help curb your appetite and leave you feeling full for longer:
- Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa
- Easy Marinated Fish & Chunky Vegetable Skewers
- Spiced grilled chicken with honey baked carrot fries
- 4 ingredient peanut butter protein balls
- Protein-packed baked eggs with chorizo and beans
- Energy boosting coconut, oat and cinnamon bliss balls
- Three Ingredient “Snickers” Protein Balls
- Orange juice bircher with apple, cinnamon and walnuts
Want more recipes? Read more about the best foods and drinks to lose stomach fat.
Lose belly fat with our 28 Day Challenge
We’ve had so many mums come through our healthy eating challenge with the goal to get healthier, feel better, and figure out how to lose belly fat… who have then fallen pregnant soon after! So if you’re ready to lose the weight, improve your health, and get in the best shape you’ve been for ages (for a very important reason), come and join thousands of other supportive mums on our next 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!