As we start to get older, it’s harder to stay in shape, particularly around our belly. Losing weight is something that seems to be on everyone’s mind in our modern world. Shedding pounds and staying in shape are popular hobbies, but one of the most frustrating areas of the body to lose weight is on our belly.
Belly fat is slightly different than other fat deposits on the body, and is often called visceral fat. These “beer bellies” and “tires” of fat are actually early indicators of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health concerns. Not only that, but the aesthetic of a toned, muscular body usually doesn’t include a ring of belly fat.
Visceral fat is considered the most dangerous form of fat in the body, because it is in such close proximity to our vital organs, making it the most convenient source of energy for those vital organs. These larger fat cells also release hormones and chemicals that can be dangerous in many ways, leading to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, strokes, osteoporosis, and metabolic imbalances. Visceral fat (belly fat) is actually located beneath the abdominal muscles and the subcutaneous layer of fat, making it difficult to see and even harder to get rid of! There have been many quick fixes and fads that have promised the rapid loss of belly fat, but many of them are only a temporary or superficial fix. Here are some of the 15 best ways to lose belly fat.
1. Eliminate Fast Food
It may be quick and easy to pick up a delicious cheeseburger when you’re running late and skipped lunch, but it can be a disaster for your diet and belly fat-burning plans. The amount of saturated fats, grease, and unwanted triglycerides found in fast food is precisely what you don’t want if you’re trying to burn visceral fat, so while it might be hard, cutting out fast food has to be near the top of your list.
This is a very low-calorie food with a high nutritional value; packed with dietary fiber, minerals, and essential vitamins, cucumbers can fill you up and optimize your metabolism, helping to speed up weight loss without contributing any unwanted fats to the body.
3. Polyunsaturated Fats
Eating the right kinds of fats is crucial if you want to cut down on your belly fat. Some fats will only contribute more to visceral fat, such as saturated fats, but if you add polyunsaturated fats, like those found in nuts and certain types of fish, you can benefit from their anti-inflammatory potential and actually help to reduce your visceral fat levels.
Studies have shown that post-natal and post-menopausal women have seen significant reductions in visceral fat stores when adding yoga to their workout and health regimens. Yoga is a wonderful way to reduce stress and eliminate excess stress hormones from your body, namely cortisol. There is a direct link between chronic stress, cortisol levels, and belly fat, so clear your mind, calm down, and keep that visceral fat at bay!
5. Stay Moving
A sedentary lifestyle is highly associated with visceral fat, not only because it usually means a lack of physical exercise, but also because it’s associated with lower metabolic levels, higher intake of unhealthy food, and psychological effects such as stress, anxiety, and guilt. By staying active as much as possible (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, standing up while working, or taking a bike to work), you can keep your physical and mental energy high, preventing the development of belly fat.
6. Regulate Your Sleep
Research has shown that regulating your sleep scheduled and ensuring that you get more than 5-6 hours per night of sleep can help you reduce your visceral fat stores. However, if you turn around and sleep in two days a week (Saturday and Sunday?), it can add to your visceral fat. Essentially, make a firm sleep schedule, but don’t let your body get too lazy on your days off. Regularity in your Circadian rhythms and metabolic cycles will be helpful for keeping belly fat in check.
Perhaps the best nut to consume if you’re trying to burn belly fat, almonds are full of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are the good kind that we want, and which help to eliminate visceral fat through anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-balancing activities. Also, these nuts have high concentrations of fiber and magnesium, which help build muscle and burn fat.
8. Combining Workout Styles
While many people think that cardiovascular workouts are the best possible way to burn belly fat, combining your workout styles is actually a better way to quickly lose belly fat. When you do weight training in between cardio exercising, that high-intensity exercise can cause your metabolism to shoot up, burning more fat more quickly. Alternating workout styles and physical demands on your body can keep your metabolism “on its toes”, operating at a high level, even burning fat when you’re not working out!
The high fiber content of avocados keeps you regular and cuts down on hunger, while the concentration of certain key amino acids can help to optimize body weight and burn unnecessary belly fat.
It might not sound pleasant, but anecdotal evidence says that vinegar can actually be an effective means of burning belly fat. Drinking a dollop of vinegar can reduce visceral fat, and while the research on this is somewhat limited, it is believed that the acids in vinegar stimulate the production of certain proteins that burn visceral fat.
11. High Dietary Fiber
Any foods with high concentrations of dietary fiber can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, balance cholesterol levels, regulate your digestive system, and optimize your nutrient intake, all of which can help improve the metabolism and burn more belly fat.
12. Cut Out Starch
Starch is a major source of empty calories that can easily be converted into visceral fat. If you’re a big potato eater, put those spuds to the side if you’re trying to burn belly fat. Grab a handful of nuts or leafy greens instead!
13. Eat Smaller Meals Slower
There are many pieces of advice regarding what and how to eat if you want to burn belly fat, but one that makes sense is the slower and smaller principle. By eating smaller meal portions, and consuming them slower, will allow your body time to process what it is taking in before releasing those enzymes that tell the body it’s “full”. Also, smaller portions allows you to eat more meals per day, which keeps your metabolism and digestive system active and engaged for longer, which is great for burning belly fat!
14. Push Yourself Physically
Somewhat related to the combining exercise style advice, pushing yourself past the normal “threshold” is a great way to burn belly fat. If you regularly work out, but hardly break a sweat and don’t feel “challenged”, then your body probably won’t respond by gearing up its metabolism and burning those visceral fat cells. However, surprising your body with varied workout styles AND intensities, beyond what you normally do, can kick-start your system very quickly.
15. Disrupt Your Diet
Eating the same types of food at the exact same time of day can cause your body to fall into an unwanted rhythm. Occasionally, you need to stretch your stomach a bit, so to speak, consuming different foods, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, organic compounds, etc. in order to keep your metabolism flexible and your system dynamic and responsive. That doesn’t mean chowing down on hamburgers as a “cheat day”, but it does mean broadening your culinary horizons!