Being overweight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy. Conversely, just because you have a slim figure doesn’t mean you’re in great health.
It’s actually the stubborn belly fat that lies beneath the surface (visceral fat) which causes the most health problems. So if you carry too much fat around your middle (above 31.5 inches in women and 37 inches in men), you should take some action to get rid of it. This will also help shed visceral fat.
Thankfully, there are several evidenced-based strategies to target that belly fat.
Here are our top tips:
1. AVOID SUGAR AND SWEETENERS
We all know added sugar is unhealthy. Some experts believe excess sugar’s most harmful effect on health is increasing belly fat, which leads to insulin resistance. This is due to the large amounts of fructose, which makes up half of refined sugar.
And you can’t cheat by using artificial sweeteners. Our bodies treat them as the real thing, which still triggers the body to store fat. Some research even suggests they make you gain weight.
2. UP PROTEIN AND FAT
Growing evidence shows increasing protein in your diet is an effective way to lose weight, and is particularly effective against belly fat. Meat, fish, poultry and eggs are obvious protein-boosters. But don’t forget other protein-rich foods such as nuts, legumes, quinoa and dairy (particularly Greek yoghurt).
Adding healthy fats is also an effective weapon against belly fat. Avocadoes and olive oil have both been shown to help shift stubborn fat. Conversely, avoid trans fats completely; they are more likely to go straight to your belly.
One Danish study showed that refined carbs and oils were associated with increased belly fat. Low-carb diets have been shown to particularly target fat in the belly area, as well as the dangerous fat around the organs and liver.
How to start? Avoiding refined carbs such as white bread and pasta should be enough to kick-start weight loss. Dropping down to 50g of carbs a day will speed things up rapidly.
Firstly, forget about sit ups and crunches. Studies have shown that spot reduction does not work. Instead, focus on high intensity cardio workouts which get those fat-burning hormones pumping. Interval training, spinning classes, sprinting, circuit training are all great choices. Kettlebell exercises like the Sumo Deadlift Jump are great fat burners for quick home workouts!
Studies show just half an hour of exercise is enough to kick-start the reduction of belly fat. Working out also reduces blood sugar levels and inflammation that can contribute to belly fat. So a gym session, whenever you want, is definitely worth it.
Chocolate cravings are related to insufficient salt in the diet. Try some good salt like Pink himalayan salt and see if you really want so much more chocolate - even eating a crystal makes chocolate taste less satisfying so decreasing the craving.
II would also add that just walking regularly makes a difference. I reckon that walking the dog for 45 minutes every day has made a difference to my waistline. Sometimes it's the regular little things that count.
I do cut out carbs and try not to have bread for breakfast or lunch, but my failing is chocolate. I crave intense sweet food. but it's my treat, and I am miserable without it (tried it) so I figure cutting on carbs allows me to have my treats still.
that is interesting about sweeteners. I don't add them to drinks (yuk!) but they are often in foods. must check more labels!
I do worry about internal belly fat as I am slim but I also eat a lot of sugar and have a small pot belly. But it's hard to feel motivated to shed fat you can't see!