Thirty days may not seem like a lot of time, but a lot can happen in a month: you could get married, win the lottery and quit your job, or traipse around Europe on a life-changing vacation. More realistically, you can use 30 days to get stronger or, if you're looking to shed belly fat, lose inches and see results.
Although you won't be able to completely transform your body or even lose more than a few pounds in a month, you can jump-start your weight-loss journey and be well on your way to achieving your goals. Just be mindful that while you can lose weight in a month, you can't specifically target your belly; there's no such thing as being able to spot-reduce fat (your body decides where the fat comes from - yay, genetics!). We tapped registered dietitian and ACSM-certified personal trainer Jim White, who owns Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios and helps clients reach their weight-loss goals, for insight on how to lose belly fat in 30 days.
Jim said people can healthily lose half a pound to two pounds a week. In a month, that could add up to four to eight pounds lost. Since one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, to lose one pound a week, you would have to burn approximately 500 extra calories a day. This can be achieved through eating in a healthy calorie deficit or working out to burn extra calories (or a combination of both). Other lifestyle factors also play a role. Getting enough sleep will ensure your body recovers well and that you'll be energized for your workouts the next day. And too much stress increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can increase your cravings for caloric refined carbs and comfort food, which will prevent you from losing weight (especially in your belly). Make sure, in addition to eating in a calorie deficit, that you're also getting at least seven hours of sleep a night and managing your stress.
You can also lose inches in 30 days. "Just in my own 15 years of experience in working with patients, I have seen some lose up to five to 10 inches in a month from losing four to eight pounds," Jim told POPSUGAR. Keep in mind those five to 10 inches aren't just from your belly; those are full-body measurements from all major areas, including your waist, hips, chest, arms, legs, shoulders, and neck. He added that the inches lost depend on if you are weight training, what kind of cardio you're doing, how much water you're drinking, and how many calories you're eating.
It takes a multipronged approach to see results in 30 days. Jim advises doing cardio for 30 to 60 minutes, three to five days a week. The goal is to burn 500 calories a day; this can be achieved through cardio, eating in a calorie deficit, and getting in more steps. He also advises strength training two to four days a week. Not only does strength training also burn calories, but it helps build lean muscle, too, which burns more calories at rest.
NASM-certified personal trainer Sydney Eaton, head of fitness and programs at PK Coin App, said that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can also be an effective way to burn fat fast. "I've seen many clients achieve desirable results in a very short amount of time with [HIIT]," Sydney told POPSUGAR. For your cardio days, you could opt to do HIIT in the form of sprints on the treadmill or a 20-minute no-equipment HIIT workout.
As we mentioned above, eating in a calorie deficit is key. Jim recommends eating 500 calories less than your total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE. This is the number of calories you burn in a day, which is based on factors like age, height, sex, and activity level. To calculate what this number is and what your calorie target should be to lose weight, use this formula. Just make sure you don't go below 1,200 calories a day for women; in a previous interview, Jim said eating any fewer calories than that can slow down your metabolism and result in negative side effects like low energy, loss of hair, hunger pangs, and a negative impact on your menstrual cycle.
When it comes to what you eat, you need to dial in your diet to see results in a short amount of time. Jim recommends limiting your indulgences to one meal a week, cutting back on eating after dinner (like that late-night scoop of ice cream you just can't resist), and limiting caloric beverages such as alcohol, soda, and other sugary drinks.
Although everybody is different and some people may take a longer period of time to see results (or may see results faster!), it is possible to notice a difference in belly fat in just 30 days. With a careful approach to exercise, diet, and other lifestyle factors, you will be on your way to shrinking your belly.