Dealing with belly fat may not only be mentally destructive, but can certainly be harmful to physical health. Excess fat around the abdomen (also known as "apple-shaped") surrounds and wraps itself around vital body organs, increasing the risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Though weight loss may seem like an unmanageable obstacle to tackle, there are proven steps and tips to lose belly fat once and for all!
How to Lose Belly Fat
1. Easy Does It
One of the biggest mistakes dieters make is biting off more than they can chew. It is extremely important to make small, attainable goals and overlook mishaps. Getting discouraged and visualizing speed bumps as failures can lead to steps backwards and the potential for more weight gain. Additionally, avoid those "crash" diets that may initially drop the weight, but only to regain it after the diet is stopped! Small, yet measurable goals include limiting soda to twice per week or increasing veggie consumption from one serving to three servings each day.
2. Avoid Sugar
Though the body does use sugar or glucose for energy, it benefits best from natural sugar-containing sources. Avoid refined sugars that only pack on calories and raise blood glucose levels. Since sugar has addictive properties, slowly eliminating and cutting out its intake can demolish cravings in the long run. But in addition to weight loss, eating less sugar has several other healthful benefits!
3. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
The intake of fiber-containing foods is a valuable component in losing belly fat. Research shows individuals who have a high fiber diet are more likely to obtain and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) compared to individuals without adequate fiber in their diet. Fiber recommendations include 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day. Fiber sources include whole grains, beans, and fresh fruits and veggies.
4. Consume Adequate Protein
In addition to muscle growth and maintenance, protein plays a high role in creating satiety. Choose lean animal meats and products such as chicken tenderloins, beef sirloin and low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese and milk. Vegetarian protein sources include black beans, quinoa, tofu and edamame. These five crockpot recipes are not only convenient for busy schedules, but loaded with protein!
5. Ditch Unhealthful Fat
Specifically, limit the intake of saturated and trans fats products - mostly found in red meats, fried foods, and convenience snacks including chips and cookies. Swapping out unhealthful fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Natural sources of these healthful fats include nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and most vegetable oils. The consumption of these products in moderation can keep satiety peaked the way protein has shown to.
Pairing with a wholesome, healthy diet, supplementing with exercise can further burn belly fat. Most health experts will agree the ultimate exercise duo includes both aerobic exercise and a strength training regimen. Aerobic exercise includes running, swimming and cycling and should be completed most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. Strength training best promotes muscle growth and reduces fat mass - the greater your lean body mass, the faster your metabolism (even burning more calories while at rest!)
7. Rest and De-Stress
The combination of inadequate sleep and stress has the power to facilitate weight gain. During times of stress, metabolism is likely to slow down with the release of harmful chemicals such as cortisol, contributing to weight gain in the abdominal region. And when tired and/or stressed, reaching for those "junk" or "comfort" foods are more likely to occur. Partake in stress-relieving techniques and consistently get a good night's rest to combat belly fat!