Belly fat may be easy to pile on, but considering how stubborn it can be, it certainly is hard to lose. And while there are several myths, and some truths, about how to lose belly fat, the important thing to remember is that it’s not an overnight process. So, if you have ever wondered about how to lose belly fat and get into shape, this guide is for you. Read on to discover more about what causes belly fat, about the risks it brings along with it, and about how to lose belly fat.
What Causes Belly Fat?
Before you learn more about how to lose belly fat, it’s important to understand the factors that lead to accumulation of fat in the abdominal regions. Some of the most prominent causes are discussed below.
Poor Lifestyle Choices
The accumulation of belly fat is often linked with poor lifestyle choices, such as remaining inactive for prolonged periods, leading a sedentary life, and skimping on your sleep. All of these factors eventually throw the body’s hormones out of balance and cause fat to accumulate in the abdominal region. In the long run, these factors can also lead to obesity.
Hormonal imbalances may also be the reason your waist size is growing. This is especially true in the case of menopausal women. When the body hits menopause, a drop in the levels of estrogen may result in the fat being stored around the abdomen instead of near the hips and thighs. Other hormones like cortisol and the thyroid hormone may also result in increasing belly fat.
An Unhealthy Diet
Poor dietary choices may also affect the way fat is stored in your body. Typically, a diet that is low in protein content may cause belly fat to build up. Other dietary choices like an increased consumption of processed foods, sugary beverages and items, alcoholic drinks, and refined foods may also lead to a fatty abdominal region.
Bad Gut Bacteria
While the gut is home to several kinds of good bacteria that facilitate proper digestion of the food consumed, there’s also the very real possibility of your digestive tract hosting bad bacteria. Research has revealed that unhealthy levels of bad gut bacteria may not only increase the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but can also promote weight gain, particularly around the belly.
The Dangers of Belly Fat
Belly fat is not only unsightly, but can also pose some serious risks to your health. Here, we discuss some of the dangers associated with this kind of weight gain.
Adverse Impact on Cardiovascular Health
Studies have revealed that visceral fat in the abdominal region can produce proteins that are harmful to the body. One such protein narrows down the blood vessels, thus causing an increase in the body’s blood pressure. Other proteins also have adverse effects like clogging of arteries, rise in chronic inflammation in the body, and an increased risk for stroke or heart attacks.
Possibility of Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells don’t react to insulin in the way they normally should, thus leading to inadequate processing of glucose. Eating foods high in sugar can lead to accumulation of belly fat and an increase in insulin production. Eventually, as the body’s cells get accustomed to insulin, they may also grow resistant, thus raising the probability of developing diabetes.
Increase in the Risk of Cancer
Belly fat may also push you into the zone that is associated with a greater risk of developing several kinds of cancer. This is particularly true in menopausal women, whose primary source of estrogen after menopause is the presence of fat cells in the body. A higher percentage of these cells may mean greater levels of estrogen, and thus, more risk of tumors in the breast.
Risk Factor for Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for a group of factors that put you at a high risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Some of the factors that indicate the presence of metabolic syndrome are a large waistline, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure and fasting blood sugar.
How to Lose Belly Fat: 12 Simple Tips and Tricks
In this segment of the “how to lose belly fat” guide, let’s take a look at some simple and doable tips and tricks that can noticeably reduce your waist size.
1. Avoid Consuming White Sugar
For those of you who are keen on knowing all about how to lose belly fat, cutting down white sugar is the first major step. Studies have revealed that there’s a direct link between high sugar intake and an increase in abdominal fat. So, cut down the consumption of sugary foods and swap white sugar for other sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar.
2. Adopt a Protein-Rich Diet
Consuming adequate protein is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your weight is kept under control. Higher protein levels increase the release of the fullness hormone, thus keeping you feeling satiated for longer periods. Eating a protein-rich diet also raises your metabolic rate and helps you lose stubborn belly fat.
3. Eliminate Processed Foods
One of the first things you’ll learn when you’re starting out on your journey of discovering all about how to lose belly fat is that carbs are bad for you. That isn’t entirely true. While you’ll want to keep the unprocessed starchy carbs, it’s the refined carbs that you’ll need to avoid. Processed foods are loaded with such unnecessary carbs, and cutting back on these foods can trim down your belly fat.
4. Include More Soluble Fiber
Eating more soluble fiber can help you lose belly fat because this kind of fiber makes you feel full faster and keeps you feeling satiated for longer, thus cutting down food cravings. Some high-fiber foods you can include in your diet are avocados, flaxseed, legumes, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, barley, apple, potatoes, cereals, whole grains, and citrus fruits.
5. Make Sure You’re Sleeping Well
Getting adequate sleep is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t pack on the pounds around your belly. Studies have revealed that people who slept less than five hours a night were more likely to gain weight around their midriff than people who slept for seven or more hours. Also, the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity.
6. Do Cardiovascular Exercises
Also referred to as cardio, aerobic exercises are known for the positive impact they have on your cardiovascular health in general. But if you’re interested in learning about how to lose belly fat, you should know that cardio exercises are extremely effective at burning down belly fat. The higher the intensity of the aerobic exercises you perform, the more belly fat you lose.
7. Resistance Training Can Also Help
While cardio is undoubtedly important, complementing it with a few sessions of resistance training each week can also help you lose belly fat effectively. Also known as strength training, this regimen requires you to start lifting weights and perform bodyweight or machine-assisted exercises to build strength and muscle. Combining cardio with resistance training can drastically reduce visceral fat.
8. Try Intermittent Fasting
This is a tip that you’ll find in all new-age “how to lose belly fat” guides. Intermittent fasting has swiftly become popular as an effective way to lose some inches off your waist quickly. You could fast every day for 14 to 16 hours, or you could fast for 24 hours twice a week. Alternate day fasting is also a good choice.
9. Keep Yourself Active
Sitting down at work all day can seem harmless initially. However, in the long run, a sedentary lifestyle may spell disaster for your waist size. To avoid this problem, it’s advisable to ensure that you take an active break every hour. Walk around the block, stretch a bit, or simply do a few jumping jacks in place to break the inactivity.
10. Minimize Your Stress Levels
Another great tip you’ll learn in this “how to lose belly fat” guide is that minimizing your stress and anxiety levels can make you lose quite a few inches of belly fat. Stress triggers the production of cortisol, which increases your appetite and eventually leads to accumulation of belly fat. So, practice calming techniques like meditation or yoga to remain stress-free.
11. Cut Back on the Alcohol
When consumed in moderation, alcohol may have some benefits. However, regular consumption may lead you to put on a beer belly, as alcohol is directly linked to abdominal obesity. Cutting back on alcohol by even half your regular consumption can lead to noticeable reduction in your waist size. So, minimize excess intake of alcohol, and replace it with water.
12. Eat the Right Kind of Oils
What most “how to lose belly fat” guides don’t tell you is that oils aren’t all bad for your gut. It’s only the refined and processed oils that tend to make you accumulate belly fat. So, switch up those unhealthy cooking oils for coconut oil or olive oil, both of which are among the healthiest fats you can add to your diet.
Simply following one or two of these tips and tricks may not help you shred the fat around your abdomen. The key to losing belly fat is figuring out what the primary reason behind it is, and working toward undoing the core problem. And once you’ve identified the issue and worked around it, it’s necessary to lead a healthy life and make sensible lifestyle choices, so you don’t gain the weight back all over again.