Get Rid Of Your Belly Fat
Belly fat seems to be the most popular fat around. Sixteen or sixty, they all want to know how to get rid of their belly fat. They are disappointed when I tell them that there is no special diet to get rid of belly fat. And it’s unanimously accepted that ab crunches every day is all they need in terms of exercise to remove it.
Here’s looking at belly fat a little differently. To begin with, belly fat is nothing but your body fat. Everyone has the tendency to store it in different places. Some thin people have only belly fat. That’s their body fat concentrated in one spot. Some others have it distributed all over. Still others have it concentrated in their arms, chest and neck while others have it in their hips and legs. So you have to aim at losing body fat. That will take care of your belly fat.
Two kinds of belly fat:
Subcutaneous Fat – which is present just below your skin and can be pinched
Visceral Fat - which lies deep down in your abdominal cavity around your internal organs
Dangers of Belly Fat
Releases stress hormone - cortisol
Affects working of heart, liver and pancreas
Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, fatty liver and cancer
Leads to poor sleep and sleep apnea
Gives rise to back pain
To find out how to remove belly fat, consider three main factors:
Diet contributes a huge chunk, almost 80% to belly fat loss. There’s an excess of junk food, ice creams, high sugar food and drinks, processed and instant food all around to lure us. These are loaded with refined and artificial ingredients, all manmade – Trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, excess salt, sugar, fat and preservatives. These have to be avoided. They cause water retention, bloated belly, food cravings, addiction and overeating. Then what does one eat? Eat wholesome food, whole grains, fruits and vegetables as close to their natural form as possible.
Fat storage vs. fat burning
Eating is a hormonal event. With every bite, you control the release of hormones that store fat and burn fat. A high carb meal causes an insulin spike. Insulin is the hormone that loves to make fat. The insulin spike forces the body to burn glucose instead of your stored fat for energy. Excess glucose is turned to fat. Protein is the best long-term strategy to reduce belly fat. It gives you satiety, Increases muscle mass and metabolism (higher metabolism leads to fat burning) and stimulates release of glucagon. Glucagon is the hormone, the magic bullet for burning fat. So make sure to include proteins in your diet.
Types of dietary fat
Fats are of different types. Aim for healthy fats like omega-3 found in fish, flaxseeds and walnuts and MUFA found in avocado, peanuts etc. While a little saturated fat is required in the diet, in excess it is easily stored in your fat tissues. While saturated fats found in butter, cheese and other foods are fattening, it’s less harmful in comparison to manmade Trans Fat.
This is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
Used to enhance flavor, texture and shelf life of processed foods
Leads to insulin resistance and obesity
Used in all bakery products, fast food, fried food, non-dairy coffee creamer.
Another dangerous manmade ingredient found abundantly in food today is high fructose corn syrup.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
It’s a manmade sweetener cheaper and sweeter than sugar
It shuts off the body’s natural appetite control switches leading to overeating
Body does not use fructose as an immediate source of energy, converts it to fat
Used in soft drinks, syrups, sweets and chocolates
Track Your Food
Figure out exactly what and how much you are eating
Read food labels
An important nutrient which many of us ignore is water. Make it a point to stay hydrated at all times and aim for the 8 glasses of water per day at least. Some may require more. Listen to your body. Lack of water leads to water retention and constipation which causes belly bloating and increased weight. Besides, it slows down your metabolism and inhibits weight loss.
Also, take care of the health of your intestinal bacterial. Include enough prebiotic and probiotic foods like bananas, whole grains and low fat curd to let the good bacterial flourish. Certain types of bacteria increase calories absorbed from food.
Include raw fruits and vegetables, vegetable juices to get rid of toxins in your body. Toxins settle in your body fat. An increase of toxins means an increase in body fat to accommodate them.
Besides Insulin and Glucagon, an excess of the stress hormone, cortisol, contributes to increase in belly fat. It leads to food cravings and you end up eating whatever comes to your hand. You also eat for the feel-good factor.
It’s regarded as the secret weapon in your belly fat loss plan. Short or poor-quality sleep leads to belly fat gain. Sleep maintains healthy balance between the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone while leptin is the satiety hormone. Insufficient sleep produces more Ghrelin and less Leptin leading to uncontrolled eating.
Falling estrogen levels cause increase in belly fat gain. But diet and exercise can correct it to a great extent.
This is a very important part of your plan. The human body was designed for movement. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with wrong eating and sleeping contributes to belly fat gain. So make sure you incorporate at least 30 minutes of intense cardio activity into your life. It could be brisk walking, swimming, zumba, kickboxing or any concentrated activity. That’s the best bet for getting rid of abdominal fat.
But also remember that it is important to preserve and improve your muscle mass. So some form of resistance or strength training for 3 days has to be included in your exercise regimen. This will increase your resting metabolism and turn your body into a fat burner.
And where does that leave the good old crunches? Well, that’s required to strengthen your abdominal muscles not lose abdominal fat. With age, these muscles tend to weaken. So it’s important to strengthen them along with core strengthening.