Now and then, Facebook memories pop up and remind us of great times. Old photos of fun parties with family and friends. Albums where you were younger and a lot leaner. It’s nice to reminisce happy memories. Then you look at your present self and realize you gained a lot of this: Belly fat!
It’s bothered me for a while. When my favorite jeans couldn’t fit anymore, I started searching for ways to flatten my tummy.
How does Belly Fat Affect My Health?
Everyone has belly fat; even thin people often have it. However, having too much belly fat doesn’t just look unsightly, it increases your risk of getting all sorts of diseases like:
- Breast cancer,
- Type 2 diabetes, and
Visceral Fat, or deep belly fat, is the cushion surrounding your internal organs. When fat accumulates around your midsection, it doesn’t just sit there. Fat actually influences the production of substances in your body, which affects your metabolism and internal organs.
When regular areas for fat storage are full, the fat is eventually deposited inside organs and around the heart.
Basically, too much fat impairs organ function.
How Can I Lose My Belly Fat?
When it comes to losing stomach fat, there is no miracle cure. It takes time, effort and a combination of four key elements to help you lose excess fat: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management.
Step 1: Get your Diet in Order
To have a firm flat stomach, make healthier food choices and avoid unhealthy meals. The reality is – You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Here are some ways you can improve your diet and lose belly fat:
- Eat Lots of Soluble Fiber – Make it a habit to consume fiber-rich foods daily! Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel, slowing down food as it passes through your digestive system. It helps you feel full, which keeps you from overindulging and consuming unhealthy snacks. Eating more soluble fiber can decrease belly fat by 3.5 percent over a 5-year period. Some excellent sources of soluble fiber include blackberries, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and flaxseeds.
- Eat a Protein-Rich Diet – Build muscle and lose fat by eating more protein. Protein is a crucial nutrient for weight control, which releases an appetite-suppressing hormone called peptide tyrosine tyrosin (PYY). A high-protein diet also increases metabolism and helps people maintain muscle while losing weight. Make sure to get protein from good food sources like organic meat, fish, eggs, whey protein, and organic/grass-fed dairy.
- Add Probiotic Foods to Your Meals – Probiotics are good bacteria that promote healthy digestion and enhanced immune function. Its helps you avoid diarrhea, constipation and stomach bloating. A strain of probiotic bacteria called Lactobacillus has also been shown to reduce belly fat and boost weight loss. You can get probiotics from healthy foods like organic yogurt, kombucha tea, and pickles. NOTE: Pickles are extremely high in sodium and should only be eaten in moderation, on occasion.
- Ditch Those Sweets – Avoid sugary snacks and sweetened beverages to cut calories that get stored as fat. Refined sugar contains fructose, a substance that increases the risk of obesity. Moreover, many tasty sweets are actually full of harmful additives, so we generally recommend you avoid processed foods. If you really need some something sweet on your snack, you can substitute refined sugar with organic honey. NOTE: even organic honey should be added sparingly.
- Cut Back the Carbs – Instead of eating grains like bread and pasta, you can get healthy carbs from veggies like tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, and bell peppers. Eating less carbohydrates helps you cut down unnecessary calories and burn fat. When you eat carbs, it’s broken down into glucose and absorbed in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar also rises and triggers the release of insulin. Some glucose is used as energy, while the extra glucose is stored in your body as fat. Once you lower your carb intake, your insulin levels drop, causing your body to burn stored fat instead of glucose.
- Avoid Drinking Too Much Alcohol– Cut back on the alcohol and get rid of that beer belly! Calories in alcohol are concentrated, making people drink more than they should. Drinking also stimulates your appetite, which may make you crave unhealthy snacks. While you don’t have to give it up altogether, drinking one or two alcoholic beverages should only be had on special occasions.
Step 2: Make Time for More Exercise
If you want to lose that belly fat, you need to burn calories, and that means EXERCISE! This includes:
- More Cardiovascular Workouts – Keep moving and get your heart rate going! Cardiovascular exercises like brisk walking, running, swimming, and cycling are great ways to burn calories and improve your health.Cardio is one of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat. Look for ways in your daily life to add cardio. Take the stairs at work. Go for a brisk walk at lunch. Ride your bike to work, instead of driving in. And more!
- Start Lifting Weights – Aside from cardio, spice up your workout routine with strength training. Weight lifting, also called strength training, is important for maintaining and gaining muscle. A combination of cardiovascular and strength training exercises greatly decreases belly fat. Take note: before you start weight lifting, make sure to get help from a professional trainer.It’s better to know the correct form to prevent injuries.
Step 3: Get Plenty of Restful Sleep
It may not seem like a huge factor, but lack of sleep is actually associated with weight gain and an increase in belly fat. People who sleep less than 5 hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who have at least 7 hours of sleep. Aside from getting more sleep, make sure you have restful sleep. It’s important to have continuous uninterrupted sleep so you feel refreshed in the morning.
Step 4: Manage Your Stress Levels
Take time out to relax and take care of yourself when you’re stressed. Stress actually triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases your appetite and abdominal fat storage. So don’t be surprised if you tend to eat more when you’re stressed. Women who have a large waist also tend to produce more cortisol when they’re stressed. If you’re feeling stressed, don’t forget to engage in enjoyable activities to help get your mind off your worries. Practicing meditation and breathing exercises can also help you overcome stress.
To really lose that belly fat, you need to incorporate all four of these key elements. You’ll not only get a slimmer waistline, but improve your life as well!
Have you tried these methods to lose belly fat? What other waist slimming methods have you tried? Tell us in the comments below!