Expert tips to help you lose belly fat

Image: Travis Owen

Nothing can kill your game and get you down like a bit of umkhaba. As the countdown to summer officially kicks off, some of us are a little worried about the extra kilos we’ve picked up over winter.

If you haven’t been working out, and have had a few too many cheat days since temperatures dropped, don’t let the saying “summer bodies are made in winter” discourage you. Experts say it’s never too late to work on your body goals — the key is to remain consistent in striving for a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re trying to get “your stomach on flat flat”, as Drake says, look no further. Phelo Mfini, a fitness trainer at Virgin Active, and Nelile Nxumalo, a dietician from Richards Bay, share tips on losing belly fat.


“Anything that gets your heart rate going and your whole body working will get you burning more calories,” says Mfini. He recommends high intensity interval training, which includes a lot of core and ab exercises, such as sit-ups, planks and Russian twists.

Mfini also suggests exercises such as mountain climbers, planks, high-knees, jumping jacks and burpees to flatten your stomach. “A burpee is a full-body exercise where you basically start by lying flat on the ground and you get up and jump and then get back on the ground again,” he says.


Every season, we’re bombarded with the latest diet trends. From intermittent fasting to banting, there are endless options. However, Nxumalo advises that simply making a few changes in your everyday eating habits will make losing belly fat easier. “Choose starches with a high fibre content because that will make you fuller for a longer period of time,” she says.

“For example, instead of having a slice of white bread, have a slice of wholewheat bread because it is high in fibre. A bowl of oats will make you fuller for a little longer because the starches in it take a bit longer for your stomach to digest, so it’s better to have that kind of food.”


“Generally, you need to start by cutting down on your total carbohydrate intake — your starches, your rice, pap, and bread. I’m not saying don’t eat it but you need to start reducing your total carbohydrate intake,” Nxumalo says.

“Alcohol will make you gain more weight than sugar or even fat. If you’re trying to lose belly fat, definitely avoid alcohol as much as possible.” If quitting your poison of choice entirely seems too much, Nxumalo suggests avoiding sugary mixers with spirits. “Rather mix your drink with water or don’t have a vodka and Coke, for example, because that’s obviously a lot of sugar and calories.”

For more advice, go to, or call Nelile Nxumalo on 035 789 1840. 

This article first appeared in print in the Sowetan S Mag September 2019 edition.