Health Tip on how to Reduce Belly Fat
Life has ups and downs and so is our body, staying in the right body shape increases one’s life span.
Many People built differently, but in general, excess fat accumulates predominantly around men’s stomachs.
A doctoral researcher in nutrition science education at University College London and co-founder at the Health Sciences Academy (Alex Ruani), explains that belly fat most times is a way to refer to a central fat of the body that is, the fat under the abdominal skin and fat surrounding our core organs within the abdominal cavity, she further explained.
The degree of ‘central fat’ we carry is usually influenced by our inherited age, genes, hormones, gender, and lifestyle factors like diet, stress and sleep.
She also said that women tend to carry more body fat than men on average, “while 10 per cent more, men tend to carry a higher percentage of visceral fat,” “This difference in fat distribution is mainly explained by our hormones.”
If you’ve spent any time at all looking into the best ways to lose weight, you’ll have likely heard that visceral fat is bad. This is because it puts pressure on your organs, which in turn can lead to all kinds of health complications. While that is true, Ruani wants you to know that, in moderation, it’s actually a good thing.
“We actually need it,” she says. “‘Omentum’ is the scientific name we give to this apron of fat that protects your internal organs. This large sheet of fat stretches over your intestines, stomach, liver, and like an elastic apron, and even plays a role in immunity due to small filters between the fat cells which fillet antigens and bacteria. However, when we carry too much of this fat, it can backfire and give rise to a number of cardiometabolic problems like insulin resistance and chronic inflammation around the whole body, not just the abdomen.”
Which explains essentially the point below of which your body fat percentage will not drop, without you getting seriously ill?
She also said that, for many, there’s an obvious aesthetic pressure to lose ‘excess’ body fat, more importantly around the stomach. And if you are going to try to reduce your body fat, you need do it in a healthy way. To do this, you’ll want to look at three essentials: lifestyle, exercise and nutrition.
Often when we’re trying to lose weight (or build muscle or improve fitness) we focus on what we eat and how we exercise. Both of these are valid, and we’ll get to them later. But sometimes, underlying lifestyle issues work to undermine our progress without us even realising.
Before you decide to ditch your daily flat white in favour of metabolism-boosting green tea, think about fundamental changes you can make to support your transformation. These are the foundations that will help build solid progress not just for a quick fix, but longterm.
“Research indicates that high stress levels can cause you to preferentially gain abdominal fat through chronic production of the stress hormone cortisol,” says Mike Molloy, founder of M2 Performance Nutrition. “High cortisol levels increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage. Therefore, any activity that heightens the stress response can also lead to fat gain.” This makes evolutionary sense. When we’re in periods of acute stress – say, due to the threat of attack, or because all the wildebeest have disappeared – our bodies cling onto as much energy as possible. The problem is that your stress comes from your inbox, not what’s out on the savannah.
The best solution to stress? That would be exercise, which in turn burns calories and helps torch fat. Another tool is meditation, which can help with our next problem…
“Lack of sleep is possibly the biggest stress that people deal with on a day to day basis,” says Molloy. “A study published in the journal SLEEP found that lack of sleep correlates strongly with increases in abdominal fat in people under 40. The study found that people sleeping less than five hours a night had a 32 per cent gain in visceral fat, versus only 13 per cent in people getting seven hours per night.”
The solution is to ban laptops and phones from the bedroom (books get a pass). Set yourself a bedtime to at least actually be in bed each night, and don’t eat or exercise too late as you want your body to be slowing down for your nightly rest, not ramping up.
Diet alone won’t cut it, though. In fact, it can exacerbate the issue over time. Remember cortisol? Prolonged periods in a calorie deficit make your body think it’s starving – because that’s exactly what’s happening – so it goes into self-protection mode. Cortisol spikes and it clings onto any excess energy, storing it preferentially as belly fat rather than burning it off. To counteract that, you need to exercise. But you already knew that.
“Unfortunately for many men, genetics dictates where your fat is going to come off first,” he says. “Often men lose fat in the stomach is the last, while for some it’s first. This is not something you can alter. If you happen to store fat in your belly more, be thankful that you are probably going to have leaner legs or arms. If you had a leaner stomach, you’d probably be complaining that you carry too much fat in your arms, legs or hips.”
In other words, sit-ups aren’t going to get rid of the fat around your stomach, any more than press-ups will torch the stuff on your chest. You need to get rid of fat everywhere to see a change in the places that you’re most concerned about. And the key to that, Molloy says, is getting out and burning calories day in, day out.
“Obviously cardio is a great way to burn a large number of calories, but it appears to be especially effective for losing visceral fat,” he says. “A 2015 study found that basically all types of cardio reduced belly fat. What is interesting is that the study examined low-intensity with high-volume, and high-intensity with low-volume exercise. Both groups lost substantial amounts of visceral fat.”
Add in strength training, Molloy says, and you’ll only increase the beneficial effects. One study involving overweight teenagers found that the combination of weight lifting and aerobic exercise led to the greatest reductions in visceral fat.
The belly fat workout
Unsure which weightlifting moves will help you torch that excess fat? Scott Britton, co-founder of the Move Forward Programme and Move Forward Gym, put together the following circuit to help you do just that. Work for 20 minutes, with an ascending range of repetitions. That means for round one, you do three reps of each exercise, in order, with no rest. Take a quick breather, then repeat, this time with six reps. Next time, go up to nine. Continue until the buzzer sounds. Next time, try to beat the rep count you reached.
3. Nutrition (Diet)
Loosing weight occurs as a result of burning more calories than you consume. This forces your body to turn to its fat stores for energy, instead of what you put in your mouth. As a rough rule of thumb, you’ll need to burn 7,000 calories to shift 1kg of fat. Here are some Truth as to why dieting is important.
Eating plenty of soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
Studies show that this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full, so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from food.
An observational study in over 1,100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period (6Trusted Source).
Make an effort to consume high fiber foods every day. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include:
- Brussels sprouts
- flax seeds
- shirataki noodles
Eating high protein diet is important for weight management. High protein intake increases the release of the fullness hormone PYY, which decreases appetite and promotes fullness.
Protein also raises your metabolic rate and helps you to retain muscle mass during weight loss.
Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as:
- Whey protein
Excessive sugar intake is a major cause of weight gain in many people. Limit your intake of candy and processed foods high in added sugar.