Here's How Long It Takes For You to Actually Lose Belly Fat — It's Faster Than You Think

Photographer: Kathryna HancockProduct Credit: Stella McCartney jacket, Off-White pantRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising, no print.
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock
POPSUGAR Photography | Kathryna Hancock

Losing belly fat can seem like a near-impossible feat. Although there are detox teas and wraps that promise to flatten your belly, these quick fixes won't work. But you can't spot-target fat loss with exercise alone, either; no matter how many crunches you do or how many five-minute planks you hold, your belly fat won't magically go away.

The good news is, you can torch belly fat and lose some inches around your waist if you work hard and work smart. You could even see results in a matter of weeks.

"Reduction in waist circumference can be seen in as little as two weeks," personal trainer and registered dietitian Jim White, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, told POPSUGAR. "Although the rate at which inches are lost depends on the person, with increased activity and calorie reduction, it is possible to see noticeable differences in your waistline."

As far as the numbers go, Jim said you have to eat at a 500-calorie deficit each day to lose a pound a week (one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories). Just be sure you're eating at least 1,200 calories a day to keep your body and brain functioning properly. If you are losing weight with a calorie deficit and exercise, you may also be increasing muscle mass while you lose fat, so the scale would not be the best way to measure your progress. Instead, Jim recommends measuring your waist circumference to track fat-loss progress.

"A larger waist circumference is an indicator for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure," Jim said. "It is possible to lose inches from your waistline within two weeks of beginning a diet and exercise program, with the caveat that those with more abdominal fat will see larger decreases more quickly."

In terms of exercise, he recommends a combination of aerobic exercise, particularly high-intensity aerobic exercise, and strength training. One of the best forms of exercise to target belly fat is Tabata, a style of HIIT exercise that involves 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest.

With the combination of exercise and nutrition, you will start to see results. Just be sure you are measuring your waist and not just paying attention to the scale.

"Those on a weight-loss plan who focus on both nutrition and fitness have been shown to reduce belly fat quicker than those who only focus on fitness or only focus on nutrition," David Chesworth, certified personal trainer and wellness coach, told POPSUGAR.