Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is a serious health issue. Fat stored around your abdomen and internal organs can significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Doctors even call this type of fat “heart attack fat” which shows you just how serious this type of fat can be.
While it is impossible to preferentially target belly fat with any specific abdominal exercises – fat being just stored energy – there are a few things you can do to minimize belly fat and get rid of it faster.
Manage your stress
Stress can be hard to avoid but too much stress or an inability to deal with stress effectively can cause all manner of health problems including increasing belly fat. Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol promotes fat storage and interferes with fat burning – especially belly fat.
Manage your stress levels by learning how to manage your time more effectively, mastering the art of delegation, avoiding stressful situations, eating healthily and exercising regularly.
Cut out refined sugars
Refined sugars are nothing but empty calories. They spike your blood glucose levels, trigger a big insulin response and are preferentially stored as belly fat. In addition, elevated blood glucose levels are linked to a host of serious medical conditions including diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Refined sugars are found in many processed foods so it’s best to avoid all the sources that you can including soda, cookies, cakes and candy.
Eat more protein
Increasing protein intake has been shown to prevent and reduce belly fat. Foods like chicken, fish and eggs increase your metabolic rate which leads to faster fat loss. Protein also reduces cravings for refined sugars, keeps you feeling fuller for longer and is essential for muscle growth and repair.
Try to include protein in your three main meals but, if this is not possible, consider a protein supplement such as whey.
Do aerobic exercise
Exercise comes in two main types – anaerobic and aerobic. Anaerobic exercise include things weight training and sprinting while aerobic exercise includes walking, jogging, swimming and cycling.
Literally meaning with oxygen, aerobic exercise has been shown to be an effective way to prevent and burn off belly fat. It’s also good for your heart and lungs too.
To get the most from your aerobic workouts, you should aim to exercise at least three times a week and for not-less-than 20-minutes per session while keeping your heart rate at or above 60-percent of your maximum.
Take the sobriety pledge
It’s no coincidence that heavy drinkers often have a beer belly. Alcohol, it seems, causes your body to preferentially store belly fat so it makes sense that consuming less alcohol will help you to reduce belly fat.
You don’t have to swear off alcohol completely but it makes sense to cut down to just one regular-sized drink per day and also avoid binge drinking.
Sleep it off
Statistically speaking, people who are habitually sleep deprived tend to have the highest amounts of belly fat while those who get closer to the recommended eight-hours per night have less. For this reason, make sure you go to bed early, avoid caffeine too close to bedtime, switch off all laptops, smart phones and tablets to avoid distractions and ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and comfortable.
Too little sleep increases stress and can also lead to sugar cravings so it makes perfect sense that lack of sleep can cause belly fat and more sleep will help you get rid of it.
Tea for two…
Drinking two to three cups of green tea per day has been shown to reduce belly fat. Green tea contains catechins, a substance known for its fat-fighting properties. In studies, people who drank three cups of green tea per day lost more belly fat than those that drank regular or no tea. Green tea is also packed with heart-healthy anti-oxidants and provides an energy boost that is gentler than coffee but can still be welcome and beneficial.
Lose the bloat
Abdominal bloating can be caused by a number of things including stress and intolerances to foods like wheat, dairy and artificial additives. Abdominal bloating indicates intestinal inflation which can interfere with fat burning and promotes fat storage. Also, abdominal bloating often means that nutrients in food are not extracted and absorbed properly.
Losing the bloat by eliminating foods to which you are intolerant will reduce abdominal girth, minimize digestive discomfort and speed up loss of belly fat.
Belly fat is more than just an aesthetic issue, it can do you harm too. Taking steps to reduce belly fat will reduce your risk of suffering many otherwise avoidable medical problems and any reduction in waist measurement can potentially add years to your life.
Don’t try and whittle away belly fat with hundreds of reps of abs exercises though – that just doesn’t work. Instead, increase your levels of general exercise, eat a clean and healthy diet and implement the tips and tricks above.