Belly fat is not just a problem because it can look bad.
Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs. That’s normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat doesn’t.
In fact, having lots of fat in the abdominal area is strongly linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses.
For this reason, losing belly fat has massive benefits for your health and can help you live longer.
Not all fat is the same and we store it in two ways:
This is the type of fat you can pinch. It’s located under the skin, between your skin and muscles.
This type of fat is located in the abdominal cavity around your internal organs.
You need some visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs.
But if you have too much of it, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
Muscular Abs is Not Enough
Exercising your abdominal muscles will strengthen them.
However, twisting, crunching and side bending will not make your abdominal muscles visible if they are covered by a thick layer of fat.
When there’s large amounts of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat will prevent you from seeing your abdominal muscles.
In order to have defined abs or a six pack, you need to get rid of subcutaneous fat from your abdominal area.
So, how can we banish belly fat? Here are 3 simplified ways to lose your belly fat:
Regular, whole-body exercises will speed up your metabolism and burn calories and fat. Aerobic exercise may also be effective at targeting visceral belly fat.
For most healthy adults, it is recommended that we have at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity such as jogging.
Additionally, strength training is recommended at least twice per week.
But, it should be noted that in of the Duke University studies, resistance training (including ab crunches) alone reduced only subcutaneous fat, and vigorous aerobic activity (four times per week) reduced both subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat stores.
We all know how to eat healthily, but be aware of hidden sugars that pack on the pounds over time.
Sugar is the number one enemy in our fight against belly fat. There is hidden sugar in a wide range of everyday (supposedly nutritious foods) such as orange juice, whole wheat bread and cereals and wine too.
You should also remember that carbohydrates are not created equal. Try eating more fruit and veggies versus breads, pasta and crackers.
Also, bear in mind that there are good fats and bad fats and that the right kind of fats will actually help you to burn fat. Stay away from hydrogenated oils, canola and vegetable oils, margarine, and fake butter products.
Instead, eat “real” butter, eggs, nuts, olive oil. Ideally aim to eat all natural and unprocessed food, which is easier for the body and liver to break down. But, most importantly, keep portion sizes in check since calories can add up quickly and without you realising.
Surprisingly too little or too much sleep can have an effect on visceral fat stores.
In a study people who slept for five hours or less, or eight hours or more per night ended up gaining more visceral fat than those who slept between six and seven hours per night. So, if you want to get rid of that belly fat get some early nights.
One thing to keep in mind as well, is when trying to lose excess fat and keep it from coming back, focus on slow and consistent weight loss. No more than two pounds / 1 kilogram per week is recommended.
How to measure your belly fat
The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there’s a much simpler, low-cost way to check.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you’re standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health’s sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you’re a woman and less than 40 inches if you’re a man.
Evidence shows that you can’t lose belly fat by exercising your abs alone.
For total-body fat loss, use a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training, such as lifting weights.
In addition, eat a healthy diet with plenty of protein, fiber and portion control, all of which are proven to help reduce body fat. Then lastly your beauty sleep.
These methods will help you burn calories, speed up your metabolism and make you lose fat.
Daily effort and consistency will trigger positive results when trying to lose excess fat. It is not an easy road, but it will pay off in a lifetime of health.