Men may dream of having rock hard abs, and women want to show off a flat stomach, especially after having a baby. The sad truth is that many of us store fat around the middle, giving us the dreaded belly fat. Fortunately, there are some things that we can do to get rid of unwanted weight and tone the area for a better appearance and for better health. Diet, exercise and stress reduction can have a positive effect on reducing belly fat for a flatter stomach and reduced risk of disease.
Why Belly Fat is Bad for You
Not only is belly fat unsightly, but it can also have serious health consequences. Belly fat is not just limited to an extra layer just underneath the skin, called subcutaneous fat. The problem really arises when belly fat includes visceral fat, which is deeper inside the abdomen around your internal organs. Visceral belly fat has been lined to severe health concerns like a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Studies also show that belly fat cells also release chemicals that promote inflammation. Some people have a genetic predisposition to carry around excess weight in the waistline, giving them an “apple” shape as opposed to a “pear” shape that distributes weight around the hips.
Healthy Eating to Reduce Belly Fat
There are some specific foods that are thought to help you on your way to reducing belly fat. There is nothing exotic about these foods, and they can be incorporated into an overall health regime.
- Fruit and Veggies
Increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables is an easy way to encourage belly fat reduction. Fruit and vegetables contain fiber and nutrients and are naturally low in calories and fat, especially dark leafy green vegetables. Use them as snack foods instead of reaching for a sugary treat.
Oatmeal is a whole grain that can help you shave inches off your waistline. It is low in calories and fat, and high in nutrients. The fiber helps you feel full longer to prevent overeating, and the complex carbs energize your body.
A one or two ounce serving of walnuts is thought to reduce belly ad decrease the risk of chronic heart disease. They are low in “bad” cholesterol and provide monounsaturated fat, the healthy fat. Walnuts also promote weight reduction.
- Low Fat Dairy Products
Eating low fat dairy products like cheese and milk provides the protein and calcium that build muscle and encourages your body to burn calories. The recommended daily amount is three cups to help reduce your waistline.
Add Exercise to your Daily Routine
Moderate exercise for about a half hour most days is recommended to maintain good health, and it studies show it can also reduce belly fat. Aerobic exercise, strength training and pleasurable physical activities all count.
- Aerobic Exercise: Walking briskly or jogging for around 30 minutes daily can be effective in reducing belly fat. Other aerobic exercises like bicycle riding, swimming and dancing can have the same effect.
- Working Out: Exercises targeted toward the abdominal area can reduce belly fat. Try leg raises, side bends and crunches.
- Strength Training: Tighten the belly muscles as you lose belly fat with strength training exercises. Pelvic lifts, squats, sit ups and lunges a couple of times a week can help.
New Research – Garcinia Cambogia
Dr. Oz, the popular TV doctor who is a health guru, featured a segment on his show about the effects of Garcinia Cambo extract (HCA), a dietary supplement. This pumpkin-shaped fruit is also called tamarind and is used in traditional South Asian dishes like curry and chutney. According to studies, HCA, promotes overall weight loss including belly fat reduction by blocking the body’s ability to manufacture fat from carbohydrates. HCA has been shown to be effective for emotional eaters because it increases serotonin levels to raise your mood and lessen the impulse to eat to relieve stress.
Tips for Healthy Living
Beside diet and exercise, there are some tips you can try to reduce belly fat. Cutting out bad habits, reducing stress and enjoying time with a pet are some ideas you can try.
- Smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages increase the cortisol level in the blood and contribute to belly fat. Cut down on alcolhol and cut out smoking and you may notice a marked decrease in your waistline.
- Eating plenty of fiber is helpful in reducing belly fat by keeping you feeling full so you will not have the urge to overeat, and drinking water decreases bloating. Eat small meals more often through the day.
- Stress can also increase cortisol levels and trigger cravings for sugary and high fat food choices. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing can reduce stress.
- You can also spend more time with pleasurable activities you enjoy like hobbies. Pet owners know that their furry friends add to a sense of well being, and they may be delighted to know that pets can help reduce belly fat by reducing stress levels.
- Watch your posture by standing tall with your shoulders back to show off your newly reduced waistline.