The Health Risks Of Belly Fat
Visceral fat is the medical term for the type of fat that surrounds your liver, gallbladder and other abdominal organs. Its also known as active fat because of its ability to release pro-inflammatory substances. At the same time, it affects the production of adiponectin, a hormone connected to metabolism.
According to a June 2017 review in the Archives of Medical Science, obesity and inflammation are strongly connected. Visceral fat secretes inflammatory adipokines that contribute to the onset of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome and other conditions. These compounds also interfere with your bodys ability to break down carbs and fats, affecting metabolic health.
A large study including more than 500,000 people and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in February 2018 suggests that belly fat poses more dangers for those assigned female at birth than those assigned male at birth. The risk of having a heart attack is about 10 to 20 percent higher for people AFAB with a higher waist-to-hip ratio and other markers of abdominal obesity compared to those who are just heavier overall.
Ready to Lose Weight?
Women Share How They Finally Lost Their Belly Fat
My transformation revealed abs that I had never seen before in my life.”
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably experienced your boobs peace-ing out really quickly while your belly fat just chills. So. Unfair.
But it doesn’t have to go down this way.
Since belly fat is notoriously stubborn, we went straight to the women who’ve ditched the extra weight around their midsections to find out exactly how they conquered the battle of the belly bulge. Snag their tips and get closer to your goals.
Add Some Calcium To Your Meals
Increasing your calcium intake does more than just improve the strength of your bonesâit’s also an easy way to keep those extra pounds from congregating around your waist. Researchers in Shanghai found that college students with low calcium intakes who increased their calcium and vitamin D consumption and engaged in moderate exercise lost more visceral fat than the control group. While many people assume that dairy is the best way to boost your calcium intake, there are plenty of vegan-friendly ways to do that very thing, too. Sunflower seeds, oranges, almonds, beans, and green vegetables, like kale, watercress, and broccoli, are all easy non-dairy ways to add calcium to every meal.
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You’re Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Can one too many pintsreally earn you a beer belly? Well, yes. As you gulp down your drink, your body turns the alcohol into acetate, which your body cant store. It becomes your primary energy source, and the proteins, carbs and fats swirling around your digestive system are converted to fat by default.
Factor in the excess calories from your drinks with the gut-busting kebab you pick up on the way home and suddenly youre looking at excess fat storage.
Not only does a night on the sauce send your cortisol levels through the roof, it saps your testosterone, which means youll find it more difficult to build lean muscle and burn fat as fuel.
Do What You Can To Reduce Stress Levels
If you are working out consistently, eating healthy and still not losing the belly fat, I suggest having your hormones checked, Tucker suggests. Too much cortisol can be a result of adrenal fatigue and can cause weight gain and bloat around the lower belly.
If the belly fat is the result of a hormone imbalance, youll also want to prioritize adding stress reduction activities into your day. Try incorporating a daily meditation practice or yin yoga and limiting time on devices to reduce stress and calm your nervous system.
Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011 2011:868305.
Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM, Cummings N, Larson LM, Rebuffé-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994 2:255-262.
Stanhope KL. Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016 53:52-67.
Lattimer JM, Haub MD. Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health. Nutrients. 2010 2:1266-1289.
Ellulu MS, Patimah I, Khazaai H, Rahmat A, Abed Y. Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications. Arch Med Sci. 2017 13:851-863.
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Consider The 80/20 Guideline For Nutrition Vs Exercise
It’s not possible to reduce fat from specific spots in your body, but you can reduce lower belly fat by reducing your overall percentage of body fat, explains Nick Hounslow an LA-based ISSA certified personal trainer.
“This is done by following a diet of whole or minimally processed foods that contain protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients, he says. “You’ll want to make sure that you’re eating fewer calories than you are burning in a day.”
Be careful not to overdo it and cut too many calories or do so too quicklya slow and steady weight loss is optimal for long-term success, he says.
“As a nutritionist, I tell my clients that you can work your core all you want but if your nutrition isnt 80% you will not see any results,” says Stephanie Rofkahr, nutritionist and certified personal trainer. Here, Rofkahr is speaking to the concept that is generally accepted by the fitness and nutrition community: weight loss is 80% proper nutrition and 20% exercise.
Youre Eating The Wrong Foods
While calories in vs. calories out is the number one factor in determining weight reduction, the quality of your food choices is important when it comes to body composition. If your macros are out of whack, you may be hindering your fat-burning capabilities. In addition, eating nutritionally poor foods could slow your progress further by messing with your energy, mood, and appetite.
The Fix: Foods That Burn Belly Fat
Okay, technically there arent any foods that specialize in burning fat more than others. But some types of food can potentially give you an edge when it comes to improving lean mass and burning fat more efficiently.
Studies are continuing to show that what you eat plays a role in losing fat. The best fat-burning diets should include lots of vegetables. Most non-starchy veggies anything except peas, corn, and potatoes provide few calories and loads of good nutrition you need. Micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, in vegetables are an important factor in weight management because they help control appetite and support a healthy metabolism.
To clean up your diet, try the following:
Macrosfor Fat Loss
Getting your macro balance on point will ensure you are utilizing the food you eat as efficiently as possible so that more fatty tissue is broken down for energy.
While your overall macro diet can play a key role in fat loss, protein is the most important. Figure out how many grams of protein you need each day and make it a priority to get this amount.
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- While you can’t lose belly fat instantly, you can reduce it with a calorie deficit and exercise.
- Avoid refined sugars and carbs, processed foods, and sugary drinks including alcohol.
- You can expect a healthy amount of weight loss between 1-2 pounds a week through diet and exercise.
There’s no real way to lose belly fat instantly, as much as you might want a quick-fix solution. Belly fat is often difficult to lose because it’s different from other kinds of fat. The part that you can see and pinch is subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin, but it also includes visceral fat that surrounds the internal organs within the abdominal walls.
“Maintaining healthy levels of visceral fat is beneficial to your health,” says , a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. Excessive visceral fat is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases and other health conditions, so losing belly fat is important.
You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Protein is great for fat loss, according to Dr Luke. “It helps build and preserve lean muscle tissue and can increase the amount of calories you burn. It’s also a great source of energy that helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less tempted to snack.”
Good sources include:
Remember, though: do opt for the lean sources of protein where possible, as some can be deceptively high in saturated fat, he advises. Need some inspiration for low carb, high protein meals? Look no further.
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How Does Belly Fat Accumulate
Were still learning about the exact mechanisms behind how we accumulate stomach fat, especially visceral fat, but we do know that stress and the hormone cortisol plays an important role, regardless of our age or life stage. In addition to this, a poor diet which is high in fast-releasing carbs and low in protein, combined with alcohol consumption, a lack of exercise and disturbed sleep will all influence our girth.
Another factor is our genetic make-up, researchers believe our genes influence how effectively we burn energy, our behaviour and our risk of developing obesity and associated diseases.
Thin People Have It Too
Even if you’re thin, you can still have too much visceral fat.
How much you have is partly about your genes, and partly about your lifestyle, especially how active you are.
Visceral fat likes inactivity. In one study, thin people who watched their diets but didn’t exercise were more likely to have too much visceral fat.
The key is to be active, no matter what size you are.
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Dietary Intervention To Lose Belly Fat
To lose belly fat, you need to reduce your calorie intake even more. To lose a pound of fat, you must eat 3,500 calories fewer than you burn. A reduction of 500 to 1,000 calories a day results in a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week. For some people over 60, this caloric deficit is too aggressive and will put them at a caloric intake that’s too low to provide optimal nutrients and energy. For example, the average sedentary woman over 50 may burn only 1,600 calories a day. Reducing that intake by 500 calories leaves you with only1,100 calories a day, which is extremely difficult to sustain long term. You might need to modify your weight-loss goal to lose approximately 1/2 pound per week, which requires a 250-calorie deficit a day. Increasing physical activity can also help you raise your daily burn so that you can create a 500-calorie deficit.
What Can You Eat
Each volunteer was encouraged to measure portions based on the size of their hands.
Aim for a daily intake of:
- Three fist-sized servings of carbs
- Two palm-sized servings of lean protein
- Two cupped handfuls of vegetables or salad
- Two fist-sized servings of fruit
- Two servings of fat or oil covering the tip of your thumb.
You can also have 200ml/ pint of milk, or two 125g pots of natural or low-calorie yoghurt.
Generally, you can eat your usual foods, so long as you reduce the portion size. Avoid or limit sugary and high-fat foods, such as fast foods.
The speed of waist reduction varies from person to person, so even if you reduce your calorie intake by the suggested amount, your results may differ.
As time passes you will lose weight and you’ll need to recalculate your calorie requirement. At your new weight you’ll find your daily requirement has dropped. So you need to drop again to keep 500 calories below your daily requirement. By recalculating you will keep losing 1lb a week.
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Don’t Let Diets Take Over
If you find every spare second is given over to thinking about calories, plans and cutting, then maybe the best thing you can do is to take a break from dieting. Research by the University of Tasmania revealed that people who broke from their diet every two weeks and aimed to just keep their weight stable during that period lost more weight and gained less back when their diets had finished.
Reduce Your Intake Of Inflammatory Foods
The foods we consume can cause inflammation within our bodies, which can then contribute to lower belly fat. Some foods that promote inflammation include the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, processed food, fast food, fried food, palm oil, and more.
“Saturated and trans fats damage blood vessel walls, which triggers the immune response associated with inflammation and encourages blood fats, like cholesterol, to stick and become imbedded in the artery wall leading to atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of heart disease, stroke, and even some forms of dementia,” explains Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and Medical Advisory Board Member at Persona Nutrition.
But we have some good newsthere are many foods that can help inhibit inflammation, like the fats in fish oils, nuts and flaxseed , olive oil, many fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, soy, whole grains, tea, and spices like turmeric and ginger.
“Cutting back on calories and increasing exercise will shrink your waistline, including the dangerous visceral fat around the middle, especially if you’re overweight,” Somer says. To lower inflammation and reduce belly fat, “focus on unprocessed foods, such as colorful fruits and vegetables, 100% whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, fatty fish such as salmon, and low-fat milk products. Then watch portions and exercise daily.”
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You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
From scrolling through social media to having a late-night coffee, there are plenty of ways we unknowingly keep ourselves awake at night. Aside from feeling tired and groggy the next day, not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night can affect weight loss, explains Dr Luke.
“When we’re lacking in sleep, our bodys hormones get thrown off balance which can impact our hunger levels the next day. We all have two hormones that affect our appetite: ghrelin and leptin. When we dont get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels rise, and our leptin levels drop. This means that when we’re awake, we tend to eat more but feel less satisfied. Try going to bed a little earlier than usual to avoid this imbalance and remember to remove any distractions that might prevent you from nodding off,” he continues.
Tracking Progress And Staying Motivated
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How To Lose Belly Fat Fast
Right, by “fast”, we’re going to have to assume you are looking for answers to how to lose belly fat efficiently and safely. That’s the only way we know how to do things at WH and the only way we plan on doing things, too.
One way to make sure you’re as dialled into your belly fat loss journey as possible is to get more granular with your nutrition. Now, ifyou’re already familiar with counting calories, listen up this is how to fine-tune your fat loss efforts to focus on how to lose belly fat in particular. It’s known as learning how to count and calculate your macros.
“Counting macros” is a diet technique to make sure you’re eating the right amounts of each macronutrient protein, fat and carbohydrates. By tweaking the volume of each you can make your fat loss efforts more efficient.
How? Well, each macronutrient plays a different role in keeping our bodies ticking over. In broad strokes: protein helps to build and maintain muscle tissue, carbohydrates provide fast and slow-release energy and healthy fats support hormone function.
Tweaking the volumes you eat can help build muscle and lose body fat more efficiently, as well as allowing you to re-incorporate some of your favourite foods. Because you’re looking at what makes up what you eat, foods that are less nutrient-dense can be incorporated . All you’ll need to do is work out how that impacts the rest of your day.