For many, the issue of lower belly fat is purely aesthetic. Yet, fat storage around the abdominal area has strong links with a variety of serious health issues. It’s common for stored fat to accumulate in this region of the body, as well as around the thighs and buttocks. The research shows that fat deposited as belly fat (apple-shaped) is much more dangerous that fat on the thighs and hips (pear-shaped).
Regardless of this fact, having too much abdominal fat and, in particular, visceral fat leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues. This is the reason we need to fight belly fat, more so than for having a perfect beach body. To get a better perspective, know that both the American Heart Association, as well as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), consider a waist circumference of over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men as being indicative of abdominal obesity.
If you find yourself in this situation, then you should take the necessary steps to reduce visceral fat as soon as possible. And even if you’re not that heavy overall, it’s far better to remove as much belly fat as possible as you work on your journey toward a more healthy lifestyle.
Bad News First
When it comes to targeting belly fat naturally, we’re sorry to inform you that there’s no way to target lower belly fat specifically. That’s simply not how the human body works. When we start losing weight, our bodies will remove stored fat from wherever it pleases. We might begin noticing fat loss on our face and hand first, but the reason for this is that these are not the main fat storage areas of the body, so there’s typically less to lose there. As mentioned, we usually tend to start to gain weight around our midsection, then work our way towards the extremities. By the time we have chubbier cheeks, the waist is already many pounds over what it should be.
In any case, there are many so-called belly fat diets, which state that due to an increase in cortisol levels and other stress hormones, the body tends to increase belly fat storage. The logic behind this diet is that if you minimize stress and inflammation, you’ll also be able to burn belly fat faster. Even though lowering your stress levels is a good idea, it will not help you remove fat from a specific area of your body. It’s also important to realize that all of us are different, and weight loss will not be the exact same for everyone. Depending on your lifestyle, you can get fatter or leaner, but you’ll never be able to decide which areas will be directly impacted, or in what order. This principle also applies to your specific exercise and diet plans, by the way. There is no such thing as a real belly fat workout or belly fat detox.
Here Is How You Lose Fat – On Your Belly and Everywhere Else
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the keys to weight loss are healthy eating habits (not diets!) and exercise. Add the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night and some stress management, and you have a winning recipe of health benefits that will last you a lifetime.
There’s also the question of which is better for fat loss – diet or exercise? To put it simply, a healthy diet will do more to help you lose fat. There’s also the common saying of “80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise” for weight loss, which is pretty much true, but there are some important caveats that we need to address:
While a calorie deficit will cause you to shed pounds – no questions asked – in time, this can sometimes lead to your metabolism slowing down and, ultimately, weight gain. This is the main reason why many people on long-term and drastic restrictive diets will end up hitting a weight-loss plateau. Physical activity, on the other hand -in particular, strength training – allows you to build muscle, which further helps you to lose weight. On average, a pound of muscle burns more calories at three times the rate per day than a pound of fat. Simply put, a good and balanced dietary lifestyle will help you lose pounds, while also adding regular fitness exercises will help keep them off.
But on the matter of losing body fat, let’s focus on healthy eating. Below are several simple changes that you need to incorporate into your daily diet to make sure you get rid of belly fat gradually yet safely:
Cut Back on Refined Carbs
Refined carbohydrates are the bane of any flat stomach. Also known as simple carbs, these have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients during processing. In most cases, this is done to increase their shelf life in the grocery stores. Among the most common refined carbs, we can include the following:
- White flour products
- Sugar and sugary drinks
- Processed breakfast cereals
- White rice
Not only are these refined carbs stripped of any fiber, nutrients, and minerals, they are also high in calories. They’re also among the top high glycemic index foods out there. This means that they get absorbed into the bloodstream much faster, which leads to a sudden spike in your blood sugar, and increased hunger not long after. However, carbs are important for the proper functioning of your body. But instead of refined carbs, get yours from healthier carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and whole wheat).
Set out Your Portions
It’s almost a guarantee that you will overeat if you eat from a bag, package, or serving dish. So to counteract this, we recommend that you lay out your meal portions on a plate or bowl. A couple of other useful tips here include the size of your plates as well as their color. Studies have shown that when we eat from a big plate, we also tend to pile on more food and eat more.
Color contrast also seems to have an impact on how much we eat. As it turns out, if the color of our food is similar to that of the plate, we tend to eat more of it. Interestingly enough, if the color of the plate is similar to the background, say, the tablecloth, the exact opposite happens. So, for instance, if you want to eat more greens and fewer processed foods like french fries, do it on a green plate against a red tablecloth.
See also: Portions – How Much Is A Serving?
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Did you know that a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola has 140 calories? A 16-ounce size cup of Jamba Juice All Fruit smoothie has at least 210 calories. An 8-ounce glass of freshly squeezed orange juice will give you 110 calories, and the list just keeps going. All of these are perfect examples of how sugary drinks sneak in mostly empty calories without even noticing. So, skip the sodas, energy drinks, and sugar-laden coffee-choco-ccinos and drink water or mineral water instead.
Small Changes Done Consistently Yield Permanent Weight Loss
If you’re like most people, you’re probably putting off trying to lose weight because you’ve convinced yourself that, unless you do everything perfectly by the book, you might as well not do anything at all. But the secret to a long-lasting healthy diet and lifestyle is that almost nobody eats perfectly every single day. Have your cheat days and a few unhealthy treats here and there, if they ultimately help you stay on your path.
The whole point is:
You can’t do EVERYTHING, but you can certainly do SOMETHING.
Simply make one small improvement, as small as it may be, instead of putting everything off. Have strawberries instead of cookies for dessert tonight, or bring a grilled chicken salad to work for lunch tomorrow. Skip the breadbasket at the restaurant and drink a glass of mineral water instead of your usual soda at lunch. The key is to just do SOMETHING instead of doing NOTHING.
If you need any help or guidance, our nutrition coaches are here to help you. If you want to transform your body with the advice and support of experts, get your free no-obligation consultation so you can tell us more about what you need.