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How To Lose Belly Fat Effectively And Healthily

How To Lose Belly Fat Effectively And Healthily

Belly fat occurs when excessive abdominal fat around the stomach and abdomen has built up to the extent that it is likely to have a negative impact on health. For many, the belly fat is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s the deeper fat stores that form in and around your internal organs than can cause some serious health problems if it isn’t reduced.

Losing belly fat is important, not only for appearance and vanity but also for your health with research showing the significance of belly fat and its role in the risk of acute myocardial infarctions, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as other inflammatory conditions.

Causes of Belly Fat

Women are more likely to gain excess belly fat, especially deep inside the belly as they go through perimenopause and into menopause when their menstrual cycle ends. That’s because as oestrogen levels drop, body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs, and buttocks to the abdomen.

For men, the natural reduction in testosterone as they age means excess calories are often stored as visceral fat and thus the accumulation of belly fat occurs.

Stress and the cortisol connection contribute to belly fat as well. Research findings support the hypothesis that cortisol secretion might represent a connection between stress and abdominal fat distribution.

Abnormal Fats vs Normal Fats: Not All Fats Are Equal

The first type of body fat is the structural fat which fills the gaps between various organs. Structural fat also performs important functions such as bedding the kidneys in soft elastic tissue, protecting the coronary arteries and keeping the skin smooth and taut.

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The second type of fat is the essential fat reserves. This is the normal reserve of fuel used when the body is faced with immediate dietary insufficiencies such as regular low-calorie diets. Such normal reserves are localized all over the body.

Both structural and essential fat are normal, and even if the body stocks them to capacity this can never be called obesity.

The third type of fat, belly fat, is entirely abnormal and is non-essential.

It is the accumulation of this fat which creates the dreaded belly fat. This abnormal fat is also a potential reserve of fuel, but unlike the normal reserves, it is not available to the body in a nutritional emergency or during most diet programs. This third type of fat is the causative factor in health problems associated with belly fat.

It is difficult to remove and adds to further fat stores in the body due to its ability to slow down the metabolic rate.

Interventions that Reduce Belly Fat

Diet

The number one rule in reducing belly fat: DO NOT start by decreasing your fat intake. Not all fats are bad fats. In fact, eating certain fats can help you reduce belly fat.

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Good fats that you need to add to your eating regime include avocados, olives and other sources of Omega-3. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating three 5-ounce servings of salmon per week for four weeks as part of a low-calorie diet resulted in approximately 2.2 pounds more weight loss than following a diet that didn’t include fish.

Dan Mendilow shares some fantastic points on what you need to do to turn your body into a belly-fat burning machine by replacing a few unhealthy foods with healthy foods. Dan goes on to explain the importance of eating certain fats and why you should not be shunning them in your quest to lose your belly fat:

  • Studies have shown that drinking diet drinks greatly contributes to belly fat. By drinking sugar-sweetened beverages excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose present, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a great way to kick-start your metabolism and get belly fat moving. “One theory is that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat,” explains Pamela Peeke, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After 40.
  • With stress and the cortisol connection, your body starts to produce more insulin as you age, since your muscle and fat cells aren’t responding to it properly. With the increase in insulin comes fat storage, especially around your belly. A diet high in protein may protect you against insulin resistance, thus decreasing belly fat.

Exercise

Skip the crunches. Abdominal crunches and sit-ups should build strong muscles, but you might not see them under belly fat. In fact, crunches might actually make your stomach look bigger as you build up thicker abdominal muscles. Instead, if you strengthen your back muscles, your posture will improve and pull in your belly.

Alternative core exercises:

Side stretches

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    Stand up straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Put your right hand on your right hip, and lift your left arm straight up, with the palm facing right. Keeping your legs centered, lean to the right and “reach” over with your left arm, stretching your left side. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.

    Squats

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      Stand with your feet about 8 inches (20 cm) apart. Extend your arms in front of you and do four sets of 15-20 squats.

      Planks

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        Get in the push-up position, but rest on your elbows and forearms. Pull your stomach muscles in tight, keeping your back, neck, and bottom in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Rest and repeat 3-5 times.

        Check Your Progress and Remain Persistent

        Calculate your waist-to-hip ratio on a regular basis. Your waist-to-hip ratio (the circumference of your waist divided by the circumference of your hips) can be a good indicator of whether you need to lose belly fat in the first place and how successful your interventions are.

        • Wrap a soft tape measure around the thinnest part of your waist at the level of your navel. Note the measurement.
        • Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your hips, where you can feel a bony protrusion about 1/3 of the way from the top of the hipbone. Note the measurement.
        • Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
        • Know what’s healthy. Women should have a ratio of 0.8 or below; men should be at 0.9 or lower.

        Lastly, team up with a friend as you chart your progress. Make sure to team up with someone who is just as motivated as you are. Join a walking club in your area with people around your age and ability. Get your family on board. Do whatever it takes to get yourself motivated and on track with the new you.

        Featured photo credit: Piotr Marcinski via shutterstock.com

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        Last Updated on October 22, 2020

        The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

        The Truth of Rapid Weight Loss: How to Actually Shed Pounds

        “If I drink this supplement, will I lose 40 pounds in two weeks?”

         Another consultation with a new member in the fitness center that I manage, and yet another person that fell prey to the marketing-trap of a supplement company that promised immediate results and rapid weight loss.

        Rapid weight loss is enticing. It speaks to our human nature. It’s unfortunately also a false fantasy of ours.

        The truth is that while you might be able to lose weight in a very short time, it’s practically impossible to keep it off. Here’s why and how you can actually shed pounds sustainably and continuously.

        The Key to Patience

        A mentor of mine once told me bluntly: You can have it all young man. You can be a great salesman and entrepreneur. You can run a successful business. As long as you just refuse to give up.

        Is it that simple? It is.

        I came into a management position at a young age not because I’m the brightest but because I outlasted my colleagues.

        There are a lot of similarities between business and the results in the gym. They just produce different rewards.

        If something isn’t working simply because you don’t have the patience to push through, develop this crucial piece of the puzzle before moving on.

        You can learn more about just how long it takes to build muscle and lose fat here.

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        The Art of Weight Loss

        Weight loss is simple, but not easy.

        It’s not easy because it goes against our nature. We all have to know that our ancestors dealt with much rougher situations than we did. Over millions of years our genome has evolved to store energy in order to prepare for rainy days.

        Only in the recent decades have we gone from scarcity to absolute abundance. The supermarket just around my corner contains ripe fruits from all over the world. Packaged, conserved foods that can be stored in our shelf for years to come.

        While our recently-evolved, self-conscious forebrain is demanding us to keep losing 10 more pounds, our genome is desperately trying to hold on to all of those bits of energy storage, making rapid weight loss nearly impossible.

        Fat cells used to be our friends, and now they’re enemies. (Find out more about the reason why here.) In order to beat them and lose weight, we have to learn to go against nature and trick our genome.

        How to Trick Your Genome

        What if I told you that there is a way to soothe your genome and your brain at the same time? How can we manipulate both of these entities to reach our goals?

        Here’s everything that you need to know about substantial and sustainable weight loss in one sentence: Calories and satiety are not linked.

        We can eat a huge McDonalds meal with thousands of calories but still feel hungry after one hour. We can scoop out some ice cream late at night, and the only time we feel satiated is after we’ve gained 2 more pounds.

        On the other hand, we can eat 1-2 cups of broccoli or spinach and often feel full. What matters is the caloric density and the seven crucial factors influencing satiety.

        7 Parts of Satiety

        Hunger and satiety are sensations. Satiety is the absence of hunger. If we feel satiated, we feel full. If we feel full, we’re more likely to stick to a diet.

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        If calories are not linked to satiety, which factors are? Lucky for us, a study on satiety gave us some answers. The researchers concluded:[1]

        Servings of different foods vary greatly in their satiating capacity.[2]

        Optimize satiety for rapid weight loss

          And the effect of a food on one’s satiety is important, as the satiety heavily influences our future eating behavior. These are the components that played a role.

          Fiber

          Fiber fills up your stomach and speeds up digestion through your small intestine. This means that less macronutrients will get absorbed. Therefore, also less calories.

          Foods containing fiber-entrapped natural sugars produced the highest satiety scores in the whole study. If you want to feel full, start taking in more fruits and vegetables.

          Sensory Information

          Studies have shown that our sensory information can play a huge part in our satiety and rapid weight loss. We’re primed to seek a variety of foods, but if we routinize the habit of eating the same foods during our eating breaks, satiety might come earlier.[3]

          Water

          If a food contains more water, it will naturally also be less calorie dense. Not only that, but the increased water content also fills up our stomach more, boosting feelings of satiety.

          Protein and Carbohydrates

          Protein and (good) carbohydrates seem to have great satiating effects. Both of these macronutrients can, therefore, help you lose fat more easily. However, stay away from fatty products, as fat was inversely correlated with satiety. Fat also contains nearly double the calories.

          Plate Size

          The bigger the plate size, the more calories you will consume, which will slow you down on the road to rapid weight loss.[4] This may seem obvious, but many people eat far more than they should simply because they fill up a plate that’s bigger than a normal portion size.

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          Amount of Fat Cells

          Our fat cells, scientifically called adipocytes, release a hormone called leptin. Leptin levels are significantly higher in obese individuals. When we start dieting, our leptin level goes down fast—too fast. It’s an indication to our brain that we’re starving.

          We suddenly feel hunger, have reduced motivation, and burn less calories at rest. This means that if we’re overweight, our body wants to keep us like that.[5]

          Serotonin

          Do you ever wonder why chocolate is so addictive? This tasty, dark food is releasing serotonin in our bodies to the same extent as cigarettes. This explains why stress often causes weight gain.

          They crave that good-feeling neurotransmitter that gets released in our brains. This means that the less stress we have and the better we feel, the more satiety we will experience.[6]

          The Next Steps

          “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln

          It’s time that we start thinking about long-term weight results when it comes to weight reduction. We have to realize that if we use the dieting approach to rapid weight loss, we’re losing both muscle and fat mass.

          This means that every time we start a diet, it gets harder, not easier.

          It’s therefore absolutely crucial that we start with the end in mind. We have to start a diet that is sustainable for months to come. There are three ways to do that:

          1. Focus on Satiety

          While a calorie deficit is important, we also have to focus on staying full. If our brain thinks we’re starving, our diet is doomed to fail.

          If we fight against our genome, we enter a war we can not win. If we fight against our genome, we enter a war we can not win. Eat high protein foods while avoiding processed foods. This will get you started.

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          2. Add Weightlifting and Cardiovascular Training to Your Schedule

          Weightlifting and cardio can improve the ratio of lost fat and muscle mass and keep us healthy. Increased muscle mass will also make it easier to keep off the weight, as it increases our caloric need.

          You can learn more about why cardio is so good for you in this article.

          3. Add Incremental Changes

          A diet shouldn’t necessarily be a diet. It should be a long-term dietary change for the better. We lay the groundwork to our dieting success by beginning with the end in mind.

          Try making one small change to your diet each week to avoid shocking your body and mind. As you work incrementally, you’ll train your body to adjust slowly and sustainably.

          Conclusion

          Rapid weight loss is a false fantasy. There’s no supplement that will help you lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks.

          It’s practically impossible to keep the weight off long-term if you do this because the dietary switch was never sustainable in the first place.

          Instead of focusing on short-term results, we should pay special attention to long-term habit change to get us to a healthy weight and more balanced levels of body fat.

          Weight loss is a trojan horse. We might expect superficial results like an improved reflection in the mirror, but if we begin with the end in mind and focus on long-term habit change, it affects multiple components of our existence and can lead to a better quality of life overall.

          More Weight Loss Tips

          Featured photo credit: Meghan Holmes via unsplash.com

          Reference

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