Yoga For Belly Fat Loss
Being a former karateka (I trained in the shotokan form), I always thought that the softer martial arts such as tai chi and yoga were quite lame. Now, before any tai chi practicioners or yogi’s come out of the woodwork to give a piece of their mind let me stop you right there and say I have since learnt my lesson and appreciate all martial arts.
This post is not to go into the various merits of the different arts (though I must mention that being a practitioner of any martial art puts you miles ahead of everyone else, and before the bodybuilders out there also queue up to have a go at me, let me quickly squeeze in that I’ve been on both sides of the fence and trust me, the martial arts work muscles you didn’t even know existed!
I was recently asked if yoga was good for belly fat loss. Off the cuff, I replied that it was, however, I went on to add that in addition to yoga you’d be better of adding some kind of high impact exercise.
Everyone by now should know I’m a big advocate for high intensity exercises when it comes to losing belly fat. My favourite exercise off course being the squat. Unfortunately this type of training is not for everyone. I can just see my mother in law squeezing in a couple of sets of squats, yeah as if!
Talking of my mother in law, she’s deep into yoga, and between you and me she’s as fit a fiddle. There’s a time she came over to help us move and I must admit, as I sat there exhausted and watched her continue chugging along I was impressed.
And all she does is yoga three times a week. She’s been doing it for the last 3 years or so.
Did I also mention she has a flat firm tummy. Geez, it does feel strange talking about my mother in laws firm tummy, in fact, it’s not really a topic I should be discussing, but being a fitness enthusiast, particularly when it comes to getting rid of belly fat I simply could not help but take notice.
Does yoga work for belly fat loss?
Basically, in answer to the question as to whether you can lose belly fat through yoga, the answer is a definite yes and my mum in law is proof of that.
Me being me, I decided to look into it further.
The general consensus is that yoga offers three main benefits:
- strengthens the body
- improves flexibility
- reduces stress
When it comes to losing belly fat, the majority of studies conclude that yoga does not raise your heart rate enough to burns calories and lose belly fat. In fact, I read a study in which they calculated that yoga burnt about 30 calories an hour!
Did you know that a banana contains about 100 calories?
That means to burn of that banana you’d need over 3 hours of yoga!
Anyway, even if that’s the case, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration. It’s what I call the ‘secondary effects’.
How yoga contributes to belly fat loss
If you take the primary effects of yoga mentioned earlier in the article, i.e strength, flexibility and reduced stress, it should be clear that these will lead to some positive advantages later.
Allow me to elaborate …
When you take up yoga, after a few weeks you’ll be stronger, more flexible and more relaxed (less stress). Now if you’re stronger, what tends to happen?
… you use that strength. You start picking up heavier items, pushing your limits more, doing more. I noticed this in my mom in law. Even though us ‘spring chickens were exhausted and wanted to rest she kept ploughing on. In fact she motivated me to keep working because let’s face it, if a strapping young lad like me stooped to take a break while my mom in law continued working …
So, the point is you get stronger which means you work more which in turn means you burn more calories. The increased flexibility also ties in with with getting stronger in that you now do more than you would have if you were not as flexible. In fact you should check out my post on compound exercises which shows how you do more work by moving through a wider range of movement (which only happens with flexibility).
So, basically, even if you don’t burn as much calories during the yoga session itself, the effects of the increased strength and flexibility propagate themselves later causing you to burn way more belly fat than you would have.
The other factor is stress. I’ve written about the effects of stress and cortisone on belly fat in a number of posts on the site. The more stressed you are the more belly fact you accumulate and conversely the less stressed you are the more belly fat you burn. So yoga does help in losing the flab by keeping your cortisone levels down.
Some yoga forms burn more belly fat than others
Another thing to take into consideration is the type of yoga itself.
When the rate of 30 calories per hour was quoted they were talking of the forms of yoga in which poses are held for several minutes with rest periods between poses such as Iyengar. These forms of yoga slow down metabolism so on the surface it would seem they are not ideal for belly fat loss, however, keep in mind the secondary effects I spoke about earlier.
On the flip side of the Iyengar forms, there are more active forms such as Vinyasa which burn up to a whopping 450 calories per hour.
Imagine that, you’d need 15 hours worth of the Iyengar type of yoga for just one hour of the Vinyasa type!
Are you still questioning whether or not you can lose belly fat by doing yoga?
Hopefully 450 calories per hour has answered your question.
Now, when I first started investigating some of the more obscure forms of fitness (well I suppose they’re not really obscure), I started off from a negative viewpoint, and was stuck in my own beliefs, but I’m glad to say I’ve since had my eyes opened. In fact, I had more or less discarded yoga as a way to lose belly fat after reading the first few studies on the subject. It’s only on digging deeper that I starting appreciating it as a way to fight the flab.
I can categorically state that you can lose belly fat with yoga. In fact, you you’re someone who has joint problems (my previous post) yoga might be a good solution to help you get on the mend.
I know it might sound counter intuitive for someone with knee problems to do the bending type exercises in yoga, but they have been shown to strengthen the joints and improve flexibility. If you’re sitting on the fence because you’re not sure whether or not yoga will help you get rid of the belly fat, get out there and start practising! (you can start off with the clip below!)