Losing Belly Fat
Carrying extra weight around the stomach can cause physical discomfort in day to day life. It can alter our posture and put pressure on our lower back. On a more serious note, developing what’s known as visceral fat – the kind that surrounds our organs – can increase our chances of developing certain health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1).
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; you can not achieve fat loss from a specific area of your body. Good diet and exercise are indeed the only ways to change your body composition. (Unless, of course, you want to pay for a high-priced, uncomfortable procedure which would put your body under a lot of unnatural stress). However, you can incorporate certain healthy habits alongside your workouts to encourage weight loss and get the most out of your physical efforts.
TIP ONE: Reduce your alcohol intake.
Alcohol has no nutritional value. It’s why it’s often referred to as ’empty calories’. There is a level of truth to the antioxidant benefits of drinking red wine. However, it’s a relatively shallow argument to suggest that red wine is ‘good for you’. It’s still poison at the end of the day, and if it’s between red wine and water – water wins every time.
Most of us enjoy a glass of wine on an evening, but excessive alcohol intake has been linked with weight gain and increased fat, specifically around the waist (2). And not only does alcohol affect our body, but the fizzy drinks used as mixers can also add unnecessary sugar and calories to our diet.
In this short video, Alison Stork also describes the basics of alcohol consumption and what we should be aware of if we include it in our diet.
TIP TWO: Eat a diet rich in fibre and protein.
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate found in plant sources such as fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses. Fibre is vital for healthy digestion. It aids the breakdown of food and can even help remove toxins and excess cholesterol from the body.
There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Both are important, and both are found in the various plant foods at different levels. Insoluble fibre is not broken down in the digestive system, which means it can add a little bulk to our stool. Soluble fibre is hydrophilic, which means it binds to water and swells, forming a gel-like substance in our digestion. This can slow things down in the digestive system, thus making us feel fuller for longer.
It’s this fuller for longer effect that can therefore help us to control our food consumption and calorie intake. Calories in vs calories out is a tried and tested way to lose or maintain a healthy weight. You can find soluble-rich fibre in many fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, oranges, avocado, peas and carrots.
Similarly, protein can produce the same fuller for longer effects. It helps to curb cravings and manage appetite control because it takes longer to leave our stomach.
Several studies in recent years agree that high-protein diets have proven to be effective ways of reducing body fat and modulating appetite. (3). However, we should be looking to avoid some of the readily available protein options. Which often include high levels of trans fats. That includes (we’re sorry to say) the likes of battered fish and bread crumbed chicken! We can find good, healthy protein in lean meats such as fish, chicken and turkey, spinach, peas, broccoli, kale, nuts and seeds. For 10 of the best non-meat protein sources, check out this blog.
TIP THREE: avoid refined sugars
Many studies have suggested a positive correlation between high sugar intake and increased (abdominal) belly fat. Both are linked with diabetes and heart disease. (4) The question is, are we aware of how much sugar is in our food? Next time you pick up a readymade sauce or premade seasoning mix at the supermarket, look at the ingredients. Sugar is often used for flavouring, and we wouldn’t even notice.
Our liver works really hard to detoxify our body and help flush out all the unwanted nasties running through us. However, if we consume too much sugar, whether from sugary food or drink. The liver gets overloaded and in order to stay functional, ends up turning some of that excess sugar into fat.
Try making your own sauces and seasonings from scratch. This way you can monitor the ingredients and monitor the amount of sugar used. Be aware of the sugar content of some foods and beverages that you wouldn’t normally question next time you’re in the supermarket.
TIP FOUR: add more cardio to your workouts.
Although all workouts can contribute to losing weight and dropping body fat. Cardio is the most effective way to do so. The more cardio you can do, the more calories you burn. Whether walking, jogging, cross-training or aerobics, the harder you make it, the more calories you will burn, creating a calorie deficit and dropping excess weight from all over the body – including the stomach.
TIP FIVE: Stop listening to the fads and myths that do not work.
There are many of these about. So it’s just about being smart and doing the proper research before buying into a promise.
Unfortunately, there are no creams capable of shredding body fat or helping us lose cellulite on any part of our body.
Doing sit-ups alone will not burn abdomen fat. What sit-ups will do, however, is help tone the abdominal muscles so that once the fat has been lost, the stomach will appear more shapely and muscular.
Do not skip meals in an attempt to lose weight and lose belly fat. By skipping meals we run the risk of compensating for it later in the day by not only eating more but eating the stuff that gives us a quick fisk.