Let us be clear at the outset — belly fat is much more than just a cosmetic nuisance.
Also called visceral fat, belly fat is the result of the excess weight that accumulates over a period of time around the center of your body. This isn’t only about your clothes getting tighter; visceral fat is severely harmful and is often the trigger for heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and other lifestyle disorders.
The best way to cut belly fat is to manage your weight better. Spot reduction is a myth – you cannot hope to shed that excess fat around your waist without keeping your overall weight levels in check.
We hate to break this to you, but losing visceral fat isn’t easy. It is that sore thumb that sticks out (juts out, in this case), no matter how many kilometers your run or the bench presses you do. However, no matter how difficult it is, there are always a few tips that you should follow to manage abdominal fat better.
On that note, let us know more about the dos and don’ts of how to reduce belly fat:
Several studies have revealed soluble fiber’s virtue when it comes to weight reduction. Foods replete with fiber promote satiety, thereby reducing calorie intake in the process. Aim at eating generous amounts of high-fiber foods – like flax seeds, Brussels sprouts, legumes, blackberries, avocados — regularly.
High protein intake is related to increased secretion of the peptide YY (PYY) hormone, that when binds to the brain’s receptors, reduces appetite, and promotes fullness. Foods rich in protein increase your metabolic rate and help your body retain muscle mass when you’re trying to lose the excess kilos.
Foods replete with protein include fish, egg whites, lean meat (chicken), goat meat, and dairy products like milk (preferably skimmed), curd and cottage cheese.
Eat foods rich in Omega-3
Foods that are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids help to fight inflammation in the body, improve heart health, and reduce belly fat by promoting weight loss. Fatty fish – a modern-day superfood — like salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, and sardine are excellent sources of Omega-3 fats.
Studies conducted across children and adults suggest that Omega-3 supplements help to reduce abdominal and liver fat significantly. Aim for at least 3-4 servings of oily fish weekly.
Probiotics, found in certain foods, are the ‘good’ bacteria that help to improve digestive health and enhance immunity. Research has proven that several kinds of bacteria are essential for effective regulation of weight and that the right balance can further your weight loss goals and help you get rid of belly fat.
Probiotic supplements are usually replete with different types of ‘good’ bacteria. So before you buy one, make sure the supplement contains more than one strain.
When you stress, the adrenal glands start to secrete cortisol, also called the ‘stress hormone’. A growing body of research reveals that high cortisol levels in the body drive appetite and induce overeating; something that eventually leads to the abdominal fat reserves around your waist.
That being said, stress and anxiety are regular features of the modern-day lifestyle. You should practice relaxation techniques – meditation, yoga to keep your weight in check and cut out the abdominal bags.
The upsides of aerobic exercise are plenty. Besides bettering lung capacity and promoting blood circulation, regular cardiovascular exercise can go a long way in burning excess calories and reducing weight. While most argue if an intense aerobic exercise regimen is more beneficial, don’t sweat it.
Remember, if you stick to it and put in the hours, you will get results. Intensity is important, but so is being regular with your routine. As a general guideline, aim for around 40 minutes of cardiovascular activity.
This doesn’t mean you need to go on a restrictive no-rice no-chapatti-diet. All you need to do is replace refined carbs — simple carbohydrates like white rice, pizza, white flour, pastries, pasta, and other breakfast cereals – with unprocessed, complex carbs that improve metabolic health and aid weight loss.
Prominent cohort research, the Framingham Heart Study, shows that people who consume more complex carbs are 17% less likely to accumulate visceral fat as compared to their peers who consumed refined carbs.
Whole grains Vegetables and legumes are some of the better sources of complex carbs.
Strength training is a vital cog in your weight loss strategy. When combined with cardiovascular exercise, resistance and strength training can spark a faster and more sustainable decrease in belly fat. Importantly, it also goes a long way in helping you retain and build muscle mass.
Before you go all out, remember to take the necessary advice from a certified trainer.
Tipplers beware! Various studies have linked heavy alcohol consumption to unhealthy weight gain, central obesity, and accumulation of fat around the waist. If you are interested to know how to reduce belly fat, here it is — limit your alcohol consumption to a single drink a day.
If you can, abstain.
Sugar is packed with fructose, excessive consumption of which can lead to chronic disorders like Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and fatty liver. Multiple observational studies suggest a direct correlation between high intake of sugar and increased visceral fat.
Remember that the primary culprits are the foods rich in processed sugars. These include candies, pastries, carbonated and sugary beverages, processed foods, and other treats. Use table sugar (sucrose) sparingly. Healthier sugars like honey and maple syrup, for all their health benefits, should be used judiciously as well.
When it comes to belly fat, fruit juices are just as harmful as sugary beverages. Consuming large amounts carries an equal risk of weight gain and accumulation of abdominal fat. You should ideally replace all liquid sugars with water, unsweetened green tea or iced lemon tea, without the sugar.
If you must have fruits, consider having one as a whole; that is undoubtedly more beneficial and carries a higher nutritional value vis-à-vis juicing the fruit.
Sleep is vital for overall health, and that includes better weight management. Not getting quality snooze hours (<7 hours at night) is linked to weight gain in the long run, and that may include abdominal fat. Besides, a sleep disorder called sleep apnoea – a condition marked by interrupted breathing and episodes of no breathing – is also linked to adverse health effects, one of them being weight gain.
The key is to get seven (or more) hours of quality sleep regularly should you wish to shed the excess kilos, cut back belly fat, and better manage your weight level.
As is evident, ticking only one strategy in this list will not help. Nor is there any magic solution to getting rid of visceral fat. For best results, you should incorporate all the methods, and see how your body responds to them.
Interestingly, all the tips are generally things associated with eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and following a healthier way of life. It means that introducing key lifestyle changes is fundamental for healthy weight loss and reduction in body fat levels (including belly fat).