WHAT IS BELLY FAT?
Belly fat is the fat in the abdominal region and is the most dangerous type of fat there is.
However, it is important to be aware that belly fat or “visceral fat” is some of the most harmful and dangerous fat there is.
Belly fat is associated with many health issues and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Specifically it’s the deepest layer of belly fat that poses health risks. That’s because these “visceral” fat cells actually produce hormones and other substances that can affect your health.There are many dangerous and ineffective gimmicks about how to lose belly fat. While there is no “magic bullet” that will target abdominal fat in particular, this article will explain what causes an expanding waistline and how you can make that spare tire go away.
WHAT CAUSES BELLY FAT?
This is the problem hidden in plain sight. Obviously, eating too much food leads to weight gain and more stomach fat.
However, don’t get hung up on the ‘calories in, calories out’ methodology just yet. You will find that if you focus on eating the right foods, eating less is a natural result.
Hormone Imbalances – Specifically Cortisol
The stress hormone cortisol has been directly linked to higher abdominal fat distribution.
It’s important to get your hormones under control and minimize the amount of stress in your life to reduce belly fat.
Often missed in other solutions for how to lose belly fat fast, bloat often causes the stomach to look and feel larger than it should be.
This is usually caused by high sodium intake, excessive carbohydrate intake, and can be a sign of a food intolerance.
Aging doesn’t help with stomach fat.
While this doesn’t mean that you can’t get a flat stomach past a certain age, it should be understood that the older you are, the harder you will likely have to work at it.
If you’re closing in on that AARP discount, don’t get too discouraged. There are plenty of older people who maintain fit and trim waistlines with the right plan.
The final contributor to stomach fat is alcohol intake.
Again, studies have shown that alcohol and certain types of alcohol are directly associated with high amounts of belly fat.
Tips to reduce this belly fat
1. Eat Plenty of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
Studies show this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the amount of calories your body absorbs from food.
What’s more, soluble fiber may help fight belly fat. An observational study of over 1100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period.
Make an effort to consume high-fiber foods every day. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include flaxseeds, shirataki noodles, Brussels sprouts, avocados, legumes and blackberries.
2. Switch out refined grains for whole grains.
In a scientific study, people who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more belly fat than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains.
- Whole grains are high in fiber, which makes you feel full longer. This will help you eat less, which will help you lose weight.
- Avoid white grains. For instance, eat brown wheat bread instead of over-processed white bread, and favor wild brown rice over white rice.
3. Avoid Foods That Contain Trans Fats
Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into unsaturated fats such as soybean oil.
They’re found in some margarines and spreads, and they’re also added to some packaged foods.
These fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in observational and animal studies.
A 6-year study found that monkeys who ate a high-trans-fat diet gained 33% more abdominal fat than monkeys that ate a diet high in monounsaturated fat.
To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels carefully and stay away from products that contain trans fats. These are often listed as “partially hydrogenated” fats.
4. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol can have health benefits in small amounts, but it is seriously harmful if you drink too much.
Research suggests too much alcohol can also make you gain belly fat.
Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption with significantly increased risk of central obesity — that is, excess fat storage around the waist.
Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether if you enjoy it, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
In a study of more than 2000 people, those who drank alcohol daily but averaged less than one drink per day had less belly fat than those who drank less frequently but consumed more alcohol on the days they did drink
5. Don’t Eat a Lot of Sugary Foods
Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess.
These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease.
Observational studies show a relationship between high sugar intake and increased abdominal fat.
It’s important to realize that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even “healthier” sugars (such as real honey) should be used sparingly.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are loaded with liquid fructose, which can make you gain belly fat.
Studies show that sugary drinks lead to increased fat in the liver. One 10-week study showed significant abdominal fat gain in people who consumed beverages high in fructose.
Sugary beverages appear to be even worse than high-sugar foods. Because your brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, you’re likely to end up consuming too many calories later on and storing them as fat.
To lose belly fat, it’s best to completely avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, punch and sweet tea, as well as alcoholic mixers containing sugar.
6. Do Aerobic Exercise (Cardio)
Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve health and burn calories.
Studies also show it is one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. However, results are mixed regarding whether moderate-intensity or high-intensity exercise is more beneficial.
Regardless of intensity, how often and how much you exercise is important. One study found postmenopausal women lost more fat from all areas when they did aerobic exercise for 300 minutes per week versus 150 minutes per week.
7. Cut Back on Carbs, Especially Refined Carbs
Reducing carb intake can be very beneficial for losing fat, including abdominal fat.
Diets with under 50 grams of carbs per day cause belly fat loss in overweight people, those at risk of type 2 diabetes and women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
You don’t have to follow a strict low-carb diet. Some research suggests that simply replacing refined carbs with unprocessed starchy carbs may improve metabolic health and reduce belly fat
8. Replace Some of Your Cooking Fats With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.
Studies show that the medium-chain fats in coconut oil may boost metabolism and decrease the amount of fat you store in response to high calorie intake.
Controlled studies suggest it may also lead to abdominal fat loss.
In one study, obese men who took coconut oil daily for 12 weeks lost an average of 1.1 inch (2.86 cm) from their waists without intentionally changing their diets or exercise routines.
To boost belly fat loss, it’s best to take about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil per day, which is the amount used in most of the studies reporting good results.
However, keep in mind that coconut oil is still high in calories. Instead of adding extra fat to your diet, replace some of the fats you are already eating with coconut oil.
9. Get Plenty of Restful Sleep
Research indicates that the secretion of cortisol (a hormone your body produces during times of stress) is correlated with an increase in belly fat.Some strategies for combating everyday stress:
- Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Stop using screens, such as computers and tablets, thirty minutes before bedtime to ensure the best quality of sleep.
- Set aside time to relax. Even if it’s only 15 minutes on your lunch break, find time to simply close your eyes, breathe deeply, and forget your worries.
- Keep anything that stresses you away from where you sleep as much as is practically possible. Keep your work space and bedroom separate. Resolve to leave your worries behind as soon as you step into your bedroom.
10. Stop Drinking Fruit Juice
Although fruit juice provides vitamins and minerals, it’s just as high in sugar as soda and other sweetened beverages.
Drinking large amounts may carry the same risk for abdominal fat gain.
An 8-ounce (248-gram) serving of unsweetened apple juice contains 24 grams of sugar, half of which is fructose.
To help reduce excess belly fat, replace fruit juice with water, unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
11. Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has recently become very popular for weight loss.
It is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting.
One popular method involves 24-hour fasts once or twice a week. Another involves fasting every day for 16 hours and eating all your food in an 8 hour period.
In a review of studies on intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting, people experienced a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat within a period of 6-24 weeks.
12. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is an exceptionally healthy beverage.
It contains caffeine and the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), both of which appear to boost metabolism.
EGCG is a catechin, which several studies suggest may be effective for losing belly fat. The effect may be strengthened when green tea consumption is combined with exercise
13. Aim to take 10,000 steps a day
In one study where men reduced their daily steps from about 10,000 to less than 1,500 (without changing their diet), their visceral (belly) fat increased by 7% after just 2 weeks
- Try to walk everywhere within a reasonable distance. Walk to work, school, or the grocery store if possible.
- Get a pedometer and try to increase the number of daily steps you take.
- Take stairs instead of elevators; walk instead of driving.
- Stand up and walk for 30 steps every 30 minutes. If you have a sedentary job, consider getting a treadmill desk or stand-up desk.
14. Drink plenty of water
Studies suggest that consistently drinking water throughout the day can lead to a more active metabolism, regardless of dieting. Drinking more water also helps your body flush out waste/toxins and improves your overall health.
- Aim to drink an 8-oz. glass of water 8 times per day, or 64 ounces total.
- Carry a water bottle so that you can drink whenever you feel thirsty.
- Know how to tell when you’re sufficiently hydrated. You’ll know you’re drinking enough water when your urine runs light yellow or almost clear. If it’s darker than a post-it note, drink more.
- Significantly reduce alcohol, sugary drinks (like sweet tea, Kool Aide, fruit punch, fruit juice, Coke, 7-Up, and Pepsi.), and carbonated beverages