Most people think of fat around the midsection when they hear the term “belly fat.” But that’s not entirely right.
Belly fat, sometimes called visceral fat, is mostly inside the abdominal cavity. Health quotes Dr Lawrence J. Cheskin, professor and head of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services in Fairfax, Virginia, saying, “It cushions your intestines and other critical organs.”
“In contrast to other types of fat, this kind is more metabolically active. It’s absorbed into the body far more quickly than topical treatments, “in Dr Cheskin’s words. To paraphrase, “belly fat hurts blood cholesterol and blood sugar and all the metabolic illnesses.”
Conditions associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease, are more likely to manifest in those with excessive belly fat. If your waist circumference is more than 40 inches for males and 35 inches for non-pregnant women, you may be at an increased risk of acquiring illnesses associated with obesity. 1
However, abdominal fat may exist apart from fat distribution. That’s right; even a normal-weight person might have excessive weight in their midsection. Having some extra weight in your midsection is also not out of the ordinary. However, here are some suggestions for cutting down on the length.
As you get older, you’re more likely to develop belly fat
The mechanisms through which your body manages weight growth and loss evolve with age. An individual’s metabolic rate, or the energy expenditure required for bodily functions, decreases with age. In addition, menopause adds another layer of complexity to the metabolic process for certain women.
“If [cisgender women] acquire weight after menopause, it’s more likely to be in their stomachs,” Michael D. Jensen, MD, head of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Specialty Council in Rochester, MN, told HealthHealth.
During menopause, a woman’s ovaries produce less of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Insufficient oestrogen production after menopause may contribute to weight gain. 2
Slowing metabolism, less healthy diet, and lack of physical activity are all possible causes of age-related weight increase. You also burn fewer calories since your muscular mass decreases with ageing.
Age is something you can’t stop, but you can keep your weight in control by making certain modifications to your daily habits. The two most important factors are increasing physical activity and consuming a diet high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Increase the amount of time spent on strength training
You may do wonders for your heart with a daily run or spin class, but if you’re trying to trim your waistline, exercise alone isn’t going to cut it.
Endocrinologist Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, told HealthHealth, “You need to do a mix of weights and aerobic exercise.”
Dr Cheskin agreed that gaining muscle via strength training might boost the body’s fat-burning potential.
Dr Cheskin explained, “when you grow muscle, you tend to replace fat with that muscle.”
“Protein synthesis from muscle is more calorically efficient than fat oxidation. Gaining muscle causes you to burn more calories at rest. When actively moving about, “Kate Patton, RD, an outpatient dietitian specialising in sports health and preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, agreed. Patton suggested a total weekly activity time of 250 minutes at a moderate level or 125 minutes at a high intensity.
Get more fibre and nutrients from whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains
As noted by Patton, inflammation is exacerbated by refined carbohydrates and sugars, such as those found in white bread, crackers, chips, and sugary beverages and sweets. Eating too many processed meals can hamper your capacity to shed belly fat since “belly fat is related to inflammation.” 4
The Harvard Medical School has confirmed the inflammatory effects of these meals.
- Simple sugars and starches, such as those found in white bread and cookies
- Frying up some French fries and other fried favourites
- Drinks containing a lot of sugar, such as soda
- The consumption of cured and uncured red meat (sausages, hot dogs, etc.) (hot dogs, sausage)
- Various forms of fat include margarine, shortening, and lard.
Patton claims that eating complete, natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains will help keep belly fat at bay because of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory characteristics found in these foods.
Moderation is key when eating fats of any kind
Each kind of fat causes a different reaction in the human body. According to Patton, studies have linked an increase in visceral fat with a diet heavy in saturated fat (such as meat and dairy).
It has been observed that the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and avocados and the polyunsaturated fats found in some seeds, nuts, and seafood like salmon may help reduce inflammation.
5 Plus, they benefit your HealthHealth if used in moderation.
However, Patton cautioned that consuming excessive amounts of fat, even good fats, might contribute to weight gain because of the calories they contain.
Rotate Your Exercise Routines
It would help if you worked out more often and harder to eliminate that stubborn tummy fat.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown in a number of studies to improve body composition by reducing abdominal and visceral fat mass by a large amount.
“If you want to shed some pounds, you must put in serious effort. This is precisely what intense exercise aims to achieve, “HealthHealth said Natalie Jill, a certified personal trainer in San Diego.
In high-intensity exercises, you push yourself to the limit for an extended period. If that seems daunting, consider that you will burn more calories in the same amount of time.
Use Your Whole Body, Not Just Your Abs
Are you a morning and nighttime cruncher? You can do as many crunches as you want, but when you’re down to your last few inches of belly fat, you may need more to display your abs. It’s time for a change of pace.
Jill said, “You can’t spot decrease.” You can’t command your body to get rid of fat in a specific area; working out your abs every day will only sometimes give you a flatter stomach.
Instead, Jill recommended practising functional workouts that target the core (abdominal, back, pelvic, oblique) muscles in conjunction with other muscle groups.
Jill said, “Since these workouts engage more muscle, you’ll burn more calories per minute.”
Planks are Jill’s go-to functional workout, she said. You’ll use your abs, obliques, and upper, lower, and gluteal muscles. Increase the difficulty of the plank by adding movements, such as shoulder taps or leg lifts.
Reducing Your Stress Levels
Whatever your stressors may be—pressing deadlines, mounting debt, or a brood of demanding children—too much of it may make it more difficult to lose weight, particularly around the midsection.
And it’s not simply because comfort food is often heavy in fat and calories in times of stress. The stress hormone cortisol may also play a role by increasing your body’s propensity to store fat and causing fat cells to grow in size. Having greater visceral fat has been connected to having higher cortisol levels.
Try to sleep for at least seven hours per night
About a third of Americans (35%) sleep less than seven hours every night. If you fit that description, try this easy tip for trimming your waistline: recharge your batteries by sleeping more.
Short-sleepers are more likely to be overweight than long-sleepers because they get less total sleep each night.
Have No Fear Regarding Your Genealogy
If you put on weight more easily around your stomach than your hips and thighs, you have an apple body shape. This hereditary inclination makes it more challenging, but not impossible, to lose abdominal fat, Dr Kashyap assured his patients. 10
I repeat: you cannot target a certain area of your body while trying to reduce fat. Dr Cheskin advises targeting the whole body for weight loss if genetics have you holding excess fat around the belly.
Verify Your Hormone Levels
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is associated with elevated testosterone levels, which might make it harder to lose weight.
Dr Kashyap said, “If you have an apple body shape and are overweight, it’s a good idea to consult your [healthcare practitioner].” And that’s because PCOS has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in certain populations.
Insulin, a hormone that aids your cells in taking in sugar, may not be produced sufficiently in people with polycystic ovary syndrome. High blood sugar may be dangerous for your body’s processes and can develop if you don’t produce enough insulin. 11
Dr Cheskin said that those with greater testosterone levels are more likely to have excess abdominal fat. However, those with greater oestrogen levels tend to carry extra weight in their thighs and buttocks.
Select a Healthy Diet Over a Fad One
When it comes to losing belly fat, a short-term diet is less effective than a shift in mentality about food.
In addition to aerobic and weight exercise, Dr Kashyap recommends a low-calorie diet that is rich in fibre and low in (refined) carbs and sweets to help reduce belly fat. You can overcome your family history and succeed if you put in the effort.
As stated by Dr Cheskin, the good news is that most patients first lose weight from their midsections. Also, since the stomach is a transitory storage location for fat, most people lose belly fat before it appears elsewhere.
Therefore, you should attempt to alter your daily habits to lose belly fat. You might lose weight if you do more exercise, like high-intensity interval training and strength training, and eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. However, these adjustments will improve your health in the long run.