Who does not want a flat belly or a perfectly shaped waist line? But belly fat, also known as visceral fat is not just a cosmetic eyesore, but may be a sign of underlying health issues.
Losing belly fat is important for your health, but it is often a challenge for most people since fat loss around the waistcan sometimes take a long time to achieved and does not generally respond to spot treatment. Luckily, there are some effective strategies you can try to help reduce your belly fat.
01. Add more fiber to your diet – Soluble fiber dissolves quickly in water and transforms into a gel-like substance in the colon, blocking fats that would otherwise be digested and absorbed. This in turn can help with managing your weight and belly fat. Common examples of food high in fiber include vegetables, fruits, beans, flax seeds, oats and barley. In other words, focus on eating a whole food plant-based diet.
02. Say no to trans fats – Trans fats, short for trans-unsaturated fatty acids, is regarded as fats that are dangerous to your overall health. Trans fat reduces good cholesterol while increasing bad cholesterol. These fats are generally formed through industrial process which adds hydrogen into vegetable oil, which then causes the oil to solidify at room temperature. Trans fats are found in various food products such as processed baked goods, margarine, fried foods, and inunhealthy snack foods.
High intake of trans fats has been linked to an increase in belly fat and risks of several chronic diseases. In order to maintain good health, it is important to avoid processed foods which are often laden with trans fats.
03. Alcohol in moderation – Alcohol in moderation (1 drink for women, 1 to 2 drinks for men) in general appears not to cause negative effects on our health, but overindulging can contribute to chronic diseases. Alcohol can also add excess empty calories—65 to almost 200 calories in 12 oz – into your diet and can contribute to weight gain and an increase in belly fat, also known as the beer belly. If you are trying to maintain your waistline, avoid drinking or overindulging in alcohol.
04. Avoid chronic stress – Occasional stress is inevitable and may even be a positive thing. With chronic stress however, the adrenal glands releases cortisol and with constant exposure, cortisol can negatively affect your health and your weight. This weight gain is often seen in your belly area. To avoid chronic stress, make an assessment to see what is the underlying source of your stress and find ways to eliminate it. Also, use wellness practices such as breathing, yoga, prayer, and meditation to help manage your stress. Seek professional help if you are having trouble getting your stress under control.
05. Try intermittent fasting– Intermittent fasting is a way of eating where you eating for a period of time, then stop eating or fast for another period. There a are various methods of intermittent fasting such as the 16:8 method where you eat during an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours. Another method includes the 5:2 method where you eat normally for 5 days then fast or decrease your caloric intake to 500 for women and 600 for men on two non-consecutive days. Studies have shown that this way of eating allows your body easier access to fat and can be effective in weight and fat loss. Since intermittent fasting can be dangerous with certain diseases or if you are on certain medications, get clearance from your physician before proceeding.
06. Cut back on sugary foods – Excess intake of sugar is harmful to your health as it contains fructose that is known to contribute to rise of various chronic diseases. When consumed in high amounts, sugar can cause an increase in the abdominal fat and weight gain. People often mistakenly think that the sugar in foods such as honey and molasses are harmless, but these foods can also contribute to weight gain and body fat and should be consumed in a limited fashion.
07. Add cardio to your routine – Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways to slim down your waistline as well as improve your overall health. Make it a habit to do a cardio exercise on a regular basis and see fabulous results as far as reducing belly fat is concerned. The current recommendation is 75 minutes of high intensity or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Get clearance from your physician prior to starting an exericse program.
08. Avoid empty calories – Sodas and fruit juices provide empty calories with little in the way of nutrients. These empty calories lead to overall weight gain and increase in belly fat. They have also been implicated in several chronic diseases. Consider substituting seltzer for soda and plain water, lemon iced tea, or fruit-infused water for fruit juices.
09. Get enough sleep – Adequate sleep is important for overall health. Poor sleep contributes to various chronic diseases including diabetes and pre-diabetes as well as weight gain. The current recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep per night—both too little and too much can negatively impact your health. If poor sleep is an issue for you, a few simple strategies can help you get the sleep you need. First, avoid caffeinated beverages after 02:00 p.m. Also, establish a sleep routine and ritual, keep your room cool and dark, avoid using electronic devices before bed, and avoid eating heavily at nights.
10. Add high intensity interval training – High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a form of cardio exercise that involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise (usually from 20 to 90 seconds) with less intense recovery periods. One attraction to this form of workout is that participants can often gain similar benefits with much shorter duration of exercise. Recent studies suggest that fat loss, especially with belly fat, seems to be another benefit. As with the start of any exercise program, get clearance from your physician prior to starting.
Belly fat is not just unattractive, it is can be dangerous. Implementing simple strategies can help you manage your overall weight and decrease belly fat.