Belly fat not only makes you clothes feel snug, but also affects your self-esteem. Fat that accumulates around the belly is termed as visceral fat and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Though, it’s tough to get the much-desired flat stomach, certain life style changes coupled with daily exercise can help you reduce belly fat.
Causes of gaining belly fat
5 possible reasons you are gaining weight in the stomach area
1. Sedentary lifestyle
It has been identified as the cause for many lifestyle diseases plaguing the world right now. A survey in the US that spanned between 1988 and 2010 found that an inactive lifestyle led to significant weight gain and abdominal girth in men and women. It also makes you regain the belly fat even after losing weight. Do resistance and aerobic exercises to keep the bulge at bay.
2. Low-protein diets
While high-protein diets make you feel full and increase your metabolic rate, low-protein diets will make you gain belly fat over time. According to studies, people who consume high amounts of protein are less likely to have excess belly fat. In contrast, low protein intake increases secretion of the hunger hormone, Neuropeptide Y.
It’s common to gain belly fat during menopause. Post-menopause, the estrogen levels reduce significantly, causing visceral fat to be stored in the abdomen instead of the hips and thighs. The amount of weight gain, though, varies from one person to another.
4. Wrong gut bacteria
Gut health helps maintain a healthy immune system and avoid disease. An imbalance in gut bacteria—known as gut flora or microbiome—can increase the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Research suggests that an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria also promotes weight gain, including abdominal fat. Obese people have a higher number of Firmicutes bacteria in their system, which may increase the amount of calories absorbed from food.
There is a reason why you tend to eat more when stressed. A spike in the stress hormone, Cortisol, leads to hunger craving, which in turn leads to weight gain. However, instead of the excess calories being stored as fat all over the body, Cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly.
Tips to lose belly fat
Follow these and watch your stomach fat disappear
1. Eat breakfast
Your body’s metabolism slows down when you are asleep, while the process of digestion stimulates it once more. Hence, eating breakfast plays a successful part in weight loss.
2. Wake up earlier
We may not like it, but waking up earlier is a must for a healthier lifestyle. Here is the science behind it. The shorter wavelengths of light in the morning have a strong effect on the circadian rhythm. It’s advisable to get your sun rays between 8Am-noon, as expo sure to bright light in the morning correlates with a lower BMI, or body mass index. So get stretching!
3. Pick up a smaller plates
Smaller plates make portion sizes look larger, and thus encourage people to consume less food. Serving food on 10-inch plates as opposed to 12-inch plates lead to 22 percent fewer calories!
4. Chew food longer
Not only is it important to eat your food slowly, but also to chew it well! Chewing your food 40 times as opposed to only 15 will burn a greater number of calories. The number of times you chew correlates directly with the production of hormones your brain produces, indicating when to stop eating.
5. Go to bed on time
For every hour late that you go to sleep late, your BMI increases by 2.1 points. Sleeping on time keeps a tab on your metabolism. A greater number of calories and fat is burned with the greater number of hours rested, as opposed to getting a fewer number of hours to sleep. So get those eight hours of sleep!
Foods to avoid in order to get rid of belly fat
Say no to these 8 things if you want a flat tummy
Refined sugar helps to raise the insulin level in the body which promotes the storage of fat. It also affects the immune system and makes it harder to fight off germs and diseases. So, think about your waistline the next time you reach for an extra slice of cake.
2. Aerated drinks
Aerated drinks contain empty calories that add excess weight, not to mention the large amount of sugars. This sugar comes in the form of fructose and other additives. This particular sugar is not easy to burn off, especially in the mid-section. Diet sodas also contain artificial sweeteners that contribute to bad health.
3. Dairy products
Gas is usually a symptom of lactose intolerance which may be mild or severe. If you are feeling bloated, limit your intake of, cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream. If you notice a difference, opt for lactose-free milk.
If you cannot cut meat out of your diet, reducing its intake is a quick way to shed some extra pounds.
Alcohol slows your metabolism by depressing the central nervous system. A British study found that when alcohol was added to a high-fat, high-calorie meal, less dietary fat was burned off and more was stored as body fat. Hence, it’s best to wash down your meals with water instead of a glass of red.
Refined carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes and rice create a surge in insulin that in turn drives down your resting metabolic rate. Also, when people cut carbs, their appetite goes down and they lose weight.
7. Fried foods
French fries may be your favourite snack, but they are greasy and have very little vitamins and minerals or fibre. Instead, fried foods are loaded with sodium and trans-fat which manifests itself in your stomach.
8. Excess salt
Sodium usually prevalent in processed foods due to its ability to preserve and add to taste, is one of the biggest contributors to a rounded stomach. It causes water retention and can lead to a bloated stomach. Sodium can also dangerously alter your blood pressure when consumed in excess.
Foods that fight belly fat
Here’s a list of your secret weapons to fight that bulge
Filled with potassium and magnesium, bananas curb bloating that is caused by salty processed foods. They also increase your metabolism by regulating your body’s water balance.
2. Citrus fruits
Similarly, the potassium in citrus helps combat bloating and the antioxidants fight inflammation, which is associated with belly-fat storage. Since a key part of beating the bulge is proper hydration, adding lime or an orange wedge to your water can help in ultimately slimming down.
Oats contain insoluble fiber and some carbohydrates that help in curbing hunger, while also providing enough strength for a better workout and reduce fat content in your body. However, ensure you buy flavorless oats one as flavoured oats contain sugar and chemicals.
In the same way, pulses are also rich in amino acids, low on calories, and fat.
Eggs are rich in protein and low in calories and fat. They also also contain an amino acid called leucine, which acts as a catalyst in burning extra fats. Having one boiled egg daily will help burn belly fat.
Nuts keep you full for a longer time. Besides, they are good fats that do not add to your calories. Nuts are also a good source of nutrients for vegetarians. Full of omega-3 fat, they increase energy and metabolism.
Exercises effective in losing belly fat
5 moves that will give you defined abs
1. Head outdoors
It’s relatively easy to get rid of belly fat through aerobics. Outdoorsy exercises like running, biking, swimming or anything else that increases heart rate will melt the fat faster. According to a study from Duke University, jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week can help you lose belly fat.
Any other calming exercise will do the trick. A study revealed that post-menopausal women who did yoga for 16 weeks lost substantial amount of belly fat. Also, relax. If your stress levels are low, it decreases the amount of cortisol, which is linked to visceral fat.
3. Interval training
When you exercise in small bursts with resting periods in between, you improve muscle quality and build endurance. So run at top speed for 20 seconds, then slow down to a walk. Repeat 10 times. You may also consider climbing stairs or going for brisk walks just to break the monotony.
4. Do cardio
Do exercises which burn calories quickly and help in losing fat from all over the body and eventually the tummy. Go for a run and time it. Once your cardiovascular stamina improves, the amount of time you take to run a mile will decrease. Overall, do cardio thrice a week.
5. Avoid crunches
While ab crunches build muscles, they get hidden under the flab and they actually end up making your stomach look bigger as the abs get thicker. Strengthen your back muscles instead. It will build your posture and pull the belly in. Do planks, squats or side stretches.
FAQs on Belly fat
Q. How to get flat stomach without crash dieting?
A. Crash dieting is one of the worst things you could do to your body. Yes, it promises quick results but in the process, it ruins your system. When you starve yourself or eliminate essential food groups from your diet, your body is compromised and that results in unhealthy weight loss. To get flat stomach without crash dieting, you need to eat right and exercise. Follow a healthy diet plan that includes less carbs and more protein. Eat fruits, raw veggies and keep your body hydrated by drinking water and liquids like coconut water, lemon juice and green tea. Instead of starving yourself, eat five to six small meals in a day to up your body’s metabolism. Cut out excess oil, salt and sugar from your diet and you are likely to see results soon.
Q. How to lose belly fat with a slow metabolism?
A. Everybody has a metabolism which is the rate at which your body burns calories and converts the food into energy to run your cellular activities. Everyone has a different metabolic rate and there are a lucky few who do not put on weight despite eating a lot, thanks to their high metabolism. If you however have a slow metabolism, you need that extra push to burn fat faster. You cannot really change your metabolic rate much, but you can adapt a few tips that will help you burn calories at a faster rate. Don’t keep long gaps between your meals. This is because the digestion process helps up your metabolism so it is important to eat every few hours. Have three to four cups of green tea every day as it helps burn calories and improves metabolism. Avoid eating high-fat foods so that your body does not store it in your abdominal region.
Q. What is the connection between hormones and belly fat?
A. Hormones are responsible for most functions in our body and any imbalance in even one of them can have some negative effect on our health. The same goes for belly fat as well. When your body produces more insulin and leptin hormones, you are likely to accumulate more fat in the abdominal region and also become a diabetic. A sudden drop or rise in estrogen levels also leads to a belly bulge and so it important that our bodies maintain this level with the help of a good diet and exercise routine. Increase in cortisol hormone which is caused by stress is also responsible for belly fat as it lowers our metabolism as well as hinders the digestion process. In order to prevent the accumulation of fat, women should eat right and work out to keep their hormonal levels intact.
Q. How to fight the fat genes?
A. If you have a family history of obesity or belly fat, it is important to take charge early on to avoid health complications later. You need to get 30 minutes of exercise every day to keep your body active and to help burn more calories. Apart from this, you need to eat a healthy diet so that your body does not store visceral fat which is in your abdominal region. By eating right and exercising regularly, you can fight the genes that make you susceptible to conditions like obesity, diabetes, etc.
Q. Is it possible to lose the fat in a week?
A. Fat does not accumulate in a day and so, losing it all in one go isn’t really possible. While there are diets that promise to get rid of fat in a short time, these do more harm than good and should be avoided. While it is possible to lose some amount of fat in a week, with continuous efforts, you will be able to lose more belly fat. Losing one to two kg weight per week is considered healthy but more than that can be harmful so take it slow. Change your diet to a low-fat, high-protein one and drink lots of liquids to lose some amount of fat in a week. Continue with this diet to lose fat consistently.