Excess belly fat is a big deal. For many, the sight of it makes them cringe. But it’s more than just an image issue — abdominal fat releases proteins and hormones that can result in inflammation. This can damage your arteries, make its way into your liver, and affect how sugars and fats are broken down within your body.
The outcome of chronic inflammation can be grim. From developing metabolic syndrome, which can cause raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes, to cancer and memory loss, it’s important to understand that getting your waistline down to a healthy size is pertinent. And while many people might believe that the best way to do this is by measuring the body mass index, it’s actually the waist-to-hip ratio that is a better gauge.
And contrary to your instinct to search the web for the latest ab video, the key to shedding stubborn belly fat is actually all about your diet — from what you eat to when you eat it. The type of exercise you do then follows closely. Reducing stress is also important, as it will ensure your levels of cortisol — the hormone responsible for excess fat in the belly — remain stable.
Dietary Tips For Shedding Belly Fat
1. You can’t simply focus on targeting just your stomach if you want your waist to shrink, so think in terms of the bigger picture by changing your lifestyle. From diet and exercise to general mindset, lifestyle shifts are critical to reducing your body’s fat overall.
2. Eliminating added sugar plays an important part in losing weight as well. Cut out all forms of processed fructose, which promotes insulin resistance and fat accumulation, and pay attention to nutrition labels, even on products branded as healthy. The recommended daily amount is 25 grams a day.
3. Incorporate more healthy fats like avocados, grass-fed butter, coconuts, coconut oil, raw nuts, and animal-based omega-3s into your diet. Such fats have been found to increase abdominal fat loss. Research has found that medium-chain triglycerides, like coconut oil, can boost metabolism, increasing energy expenditure by 120 calories per day.
4. Try intermittent fasting, which works to reset your body to use its primary fuel over sugar. This type of fasting requires you to restrict your eating to a specific amount of time per day, such as within an eight-hour window.
Foods To Eat
Whenever possible, stick to organic and grass-fed foods. Eat plant-based smoothies packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Chia seeds are rich in all of these, and add a great consistency to your drink. Eggs, red fruits, olive oil, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, brightly-colored vegetables, fresh herbs, spices, and foods rich in healthy fats and fiber are beneficial, too. These foods will fight inflammation, supercharge your metabolism, and improve your gut flora. Research has found that an unhealthy gut can produce insulin resistance and weight gain.
Once you begin making the correct changes in your diet, you’ll want to ensure you’re strengthening your core as well, which is like a corset that wraps around your back. A strong core promotes a healthy spine, better balance, and improved stability. The type of exercise you do is important. To work your abdominal muscles, you need to incorporate:
1. Stabilizing exercises, such as lying on the floor and pulling your abs up and in toward your spine
2. Traditional exercises, including crunches with rotation
3. Functional exercises, especially those on a stability ball
4. Extension exercises, such as lying on your stomach, arms and legs extended, and lifting all four limbs off the floor at the same time for five deep breaths
Habits That Lead to Increased Belly Fat
1. A lack of exercise will only cause your metabolic rate to drop, so try out high intensity interval training to boost muscle energy utilization and expenditure. You’ll burn more calories even when you’re sleeping. You will burn more fat in short-burst workouts as opposed to continuous exercises, too.
2. A diet high in processed foods and eating too frequently also causes the waistline to expand, so be sure to eat whole foods and take note of your eating schedule, making tweaks where necessary.
3. Inadequate magnesium intake has been linked to low blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods high in this important mineral include: seaweed, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, beans, nuts, and seeds.
4. Drinking diet soda has been found to have a greater link to obesity than regular soda thanks to the artificial sweeteners. Try swapping out your soda habit for sparkling water, and eventually switching to straight, pure filter water.
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