Those who have it dread. Belly fat - the most raging topic that always attracts attention, opinions, discussions, ideas and advice. It's annoying to look at, gets unwarranted attention, robs off the curves, alters hip and abdomen shape, widens waist, and pushes the stomach forward. Leave aside how it looks; belly fat is unhealthy, both for the body and self-image.
Flat tummy is every woman's wish. It is time to stop shopping for extra large clothing to cover up stubborn belly fat . With summer around the corner, one would love to wear a bikini and head to the beach and party in glamorous figure-hugging outfits. Only if one sported a flat, attractive tummy!
It is possible to achieve the flat tummy you deserve. Unravel the mystery of reducing belly fat and discover how to finally reduce stubborn belly fat.
Belly fat types
Not visible to the naked eye.
Belly fat causes
Belly fat is an issue for both men and women. Medical science points out that belly fat is a serious health hazard for men and women. But women tend to experience a larger fat percentage increase than men. Women have higher fat percentage than men leading to belly fat faster. It can start in 30s, 40s and even in 50s. The areas most prone to gain fat are the arms, hips and the abdomen. The easiest to gain amongst these three is the abdomen.
Though easier to gain, it is the hardest to lose i.e. you can't lose belly fat fast. Time and hard work are essential pre-requisites. Patience, commitment, discipline combined with genuine desire to getting rid of belly fat will help achieve your goal and lose belly fat.
The causes for stubborn belly fat vary in both women and men. For women, it's usually a combination of one or more of the following:
Stress : There is a relation between stress and cortisol hormone. In fact, cortisol is known as the stress hormone because stress activates cortisol secretion. Its level rises following physical and emotional stress. It stimulates fat storage and a series of other reactions, which results in increased appetite. That means eating more leads to excess weight gain. Cortisol also affects where you gain weight. It causes fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hip.
Genetics: Genetic pattern of fat storage is another cause. The choice may not be yours but having inherited genetics determine how fat is distributed in your body. For example, for those with an apple shape body as opposed to a pear shaped, the fat storage is in the abdomen area as opposed to hips and thigh areas.
Slow metabolism: Metabolism can slow down for various reasons. Improper functioning of the thyroid gland, age factor, and eating disorders can reduce metabolic rate. As a result, the body tends to burn lesser calories and fat gets deposited around the middle area.
Menopause: Hormonal changes after menopause may change the way the body breaks down and stores fat. It is less in arms, legs and hips and more in the belly.
Other causes:The most common cause is excess calorie intake and fewer or no workouts. If this keeps up, it could lead to obesity.Sedentary lifestyle, improper eating habits, improper digestion, lack of physical activity, lack of exercise, alcoholism are other causes that encourage visceral fat build up.
Myths about losing belly fat
Belly fat is a result of fat accumulation over months or years. Reducing stubborn belly fat cannot be achieved in matter of weeks or a month. Those who are desperate and make incorrect attempts are likely to feel frustrated and disappointed with the results. Here are some common misconceptions about getting rid of belly fat . Check out why they aren't simply true.
Exercising abdomen and getting rid of belly fat
Spot reduction theory i.e. exercising a specific area of the body reduces the fat content in that area without affecting the amount of fat in other parts continues to attract critical analysis from health experts and professionals. Researches and studies have proved that it is not possible to lose fat from specific parts of the body. There happens to be a pre-defined order, which starts from the face and breasts, the belly and hips and lastly the thighs and upper-arm.
Exercising the abdomen will strengthen abdominal muscles, by using abdominal fat as fuel for that exercise but the fat around mid-section will not go away. Following certain proven methods that help in reducing overall body fat including fat on the tummy will have a lasting effect.
Starvation diets to get rid of belly fat
Missing meals with an aim to reduce calories substantially also does not help to lose belly fat. In fact it can have a negating effect. The many possible reactions include feeling hungry always, depletion of energy and fatigue, weakened immune system, reduced metabolic rate, severe physiological and psychological effects etc. At the end, when the diet has to be eventually broken, dieter comes back to normal diet and gains weight fast.
Diet pills to lose belly fat
Sought out by those who are looking for quick-fix solution, diet pills may show temporary results with definite side effects.
Tummy tucks and liposuction for belly fat reduction
Those on the lookout for the quickest way to reduce belly fat opt for liposuction or tummy tucks. The success is subjected to many 'ifs and buts'. The amount and type of belly fat, history of weight loss and weight gain, prior pregnancy, age and gender are factors that affect abdominal liposuction success. Post surgery, if lifestyle modifications are not adopted, the body gains the entire belly fat again.
Losing belly fat is for once and forever
There aren't any tricks or gimmicks to lose belly fat forever. Adopting a step-by-step plan and consistently monitoring it will contribute effectively to getting rid of stubborn belly fat.
How to lose belly fat naturally
Experts on belly fat opine that there isn't a particular diet plan or exercises or specific foods that specifically target belly fat reduction. On the other hand, if the objective is to bring about reduction in weight, the first visible reduction will be in the abdominal region, the belly fat.
So, when a person embarks on weight reduction program, irrespective of body shape, the apple or pear shape, weight loss in the abdominal region will be proportionately more than elsewhere. And, a weight reduction is impossible and unrealistic sans diet and exercise.
Dieting and exercising together are result-oriented and can aid in belly fat reduction instead of dieting or exercising alone. A perfect success mantra to lower belly fat is to combine regular belly fat exercises with foods that help reduce belly fat.
Foods to eat to lose belly fat
You may wonder what is so special about foods that best help to reduce belly fat and how different it is from what you have been eating all along. The answer lies in the calories of food that are chosen.
The daily recommended calorie intake should be between 2000-2500 calories. Unmindful of this many women have an unhealthy eating habit. Cutting down and limiting to recommended daily calorie intake is realizable only when you are selective about the type of food you eat.
Natural, organic food has less calories and fat than ready to eat, processed and canned food products. Just as some foods aid in gaining weight there are foods that aid weight reduction. For example, there are foods that will help your body get rid of fat deposits. These foods are extremely easy to digest and provide fuel for proper functioning of the body. The guiding principles in choosing foods that reduce belly fat:
Best foods to burn belly fat
Whole grain foods: Whole grain foods are those that are non-refined carbohydrates. Eating three or more servings per day of whole grain food reduces belly fat and helps to lose weight. Cereals like bran flakes, oatmeal (rolled oats), whole grain corn, whole grain or whole wheat breads, brown rice, wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta, popcorn, cracked wheat, crushed wheat are examples of whole grain foods. While shopping if the first ingredient listed is 'whole wheat, whole meal or whole corn' the product is whole grain.
Fruits and vegetables: There are certain types of fruits and vegetables that have the ability to burn fat and make losing belly fat even easier Health experts recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Many fruits and vegetables are also a good source of fiber, which can suppress appetite. Make use of the list and choose fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of freshness and flavor.
Vegetables like asparagus, beet root, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrot, celery, cucumber, radish, horseradish, tomatoes, spinach, collard greens, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, onions, scallions, red peppers, green peppers and lettuce work wonders to get rid of stubborn belly fat .
The list of fruits includes citrus fruits like oranges, guava, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes. Citrus contain Vitamin C, which is known to dilute the fat present in the body. Apples, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raspberries, pineapple, papaya, bananas are other recommended fruits that help burn belly fat.
Low-fat dairy products: The benefit of choosing low-fat dairy products is nutrition sans fat. The recommended intake is 1 or 2% milk and low-fat cheese. There are several combinations possible like including in desserts, salads etc. Low-fat ice creams, frozen low-fat yogurt and puddings made with skim milk are healthy choices that play an essential role in losing belly fat.
Lean meat: Lean meat is packed with all good stuff that is essential to aid in weight reduction. They are low in fat and pack in high quality protein. The protein element in lean meat has added benefits like lowering appetite levels due to the long digestion time and stabilizing blood sugar/insulin levels, a combination which can fight stubborn belly fat.
Besides fish, the best sources of lean meats have less than 2 grams of fat per serving. Chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna, cod, ocean perch (red fish), pinnacle (whiting), grouper (red grouper) fall under the 2 grams or less than 2 grams of fat per serving list.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Many kinds of fish contain omega 3 fatty acids. Canola oil, soybean oil, fish oil, krill oil and flax seed oil are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids; most vital to burn belly fat. Use flax seed oil, canola or soybean oil in salad dressings, canola or soybean oil. Even handful of walnuts or ground flaxseed mixed into morning oatmeal can extend benefits of consuming omega 3 fatty acids.
Beans and legumes: Beans are packed with good dose of protein and fiber, low in fat and calories. White beans, lima beans, kidney beans and navy beans are excellent beans type to burn belly fat. Make it part of soups or stews. Legumes are also good source of protein, make you feel fuller faster and help to burn belly fat effectively. Legumes include peas, lentils, lupins, peanuts, soy and alfalfa.
Olive oil: Including olive oil aids in weight reduction, helps to burn body fat and keeps cholesterol levels down. A research reported by American Diabetes Association indicates olive oil may be beneficial in reducing belly fat and insulin sensitivity. Use olive oil for cooking; or as a snack dip.
Exercises to lose belly fat
A much-disciplined diet to lose belly fat is ready. You will need to do exercises, the best workout aimed at overall weight reduction. A full-body training program working your entire body for bringing weight under control will help reduce belly fat.
You don't need to rush to the gym. You can start with simple moderate-intensity exercises that you can do at home. For best results, commit 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week and enjoy doing these belly fat exercises.
Sit-ups: Sit-ups will burn the upper stomach fat. Keep a tab on the number of sit-ups you are able to do on the first day in a comfortable manner. You can increase the number gradually. But it is important to go for a 15 minute jog or walk after doing sit ups.
Leg-raise: Leg-raise will burn the lower stomach fat. After sit-ups, take a short break and start leg-raise exercises.
Jogging/walking: After sit-ups and leg-raise exercise, follow it with compulsory 15-30 minutes jogging or walking. It's easy to lose weight and belly fat by walking or jogging after sit-ups and leg-raise exercises.
Bicycle crunches: You can perform up to 3sets of 12-16 repetitions with breaks if required between sets. It works all parts of the abs.
Cardiovascular exercises: Cardio exercises are an important part of any weight reduction program. There are many cardiovascular exercises for women without equipment, which can burn calories. To get maximum benefit, you should plan to exercise 30-45 minutes 2-6 days a week, at a constant rhythmic pace, preferably outdoors. The top 10-cardio exercises that burn the most calories in 30 minutes include aerobics, swimming, bicycling, rock climbing, racquetball, cross-country skiing, running, rowing, walking and elliptical trainer.
Ward off boredom by engaging in different cardiovascular exercises. You can do different aerobic exercises for a period of about 15 minutes each. Over a period of time, you can engage in interval cardio training, to burn same amount of fat but in less time. It involves exercises performed with alternate intensity levels, i.e. intense or high paced exercised followed by less intense low paced exercises.
Yogas: Yoga is increasingly becoming a popular and effective therapy mainly because its benefits are not limited to the body alone. There are specific yoga postures or asana to reduce weight and specifically stomach fat. Bhujangasan, Dhanurasan, willow or tree pose are specific asanas to reduce belly fat. Regular practice on a daily basis in the presence of a yoga trainer at least during the initial days is important.
Success is sure for those who lead a healthy lifestyle inclusive of foods that burn belly fat and belly fat exercises. It is just matter of weeks or months before you notice the much yearned belly shape - a flat, trim tummy.