Maintaining a trim midsection does more than make you look great—it can even help you live longer. Larger waistlines are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
It’s impossible to target belly fat specifically when you diet. But losing weight overall will help shrink your waistline. So, how easy is it to get rid of this excess fat? And, what are the best steps to take, to move towards a fitter and healthier you.
What is belly fat?
Belly fat, aka visceral fat, is a type of fat within the abdominal cavity that you can’t see
Many health organisations use body mass index (BMI) to classify weight and predict the risk of metabolic disease. However, this is misleading, as people with excess belly fat are at an increased risk even if they look thin. Though, losing fat from this area can be difficult, there are several things you can do to reduce excess abdominal fat.
How to measure belly fat?
The best way of finding out if you have belly fat is to measure your stomach.
- Place a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you, but does not push into your skin.
- Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale, and measure your waist, resisting the urge to suck in your stomach
For women, a waist measurement of more than 35 inches (89 centimetres) indicates an unhealthy belly fat and a greater risk of health problems; For men, this number is 40 inches (100centimetres).
How can I reduce belly fat in the long run?
- Eat plenty of soluble fibre foods
Soluble fibre absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system. It helps you feel fuller for longer, so you end up eating less and not snacking excessively. Excellent sources of high soluble fibre foods include flax seeds, avocados, blackberries, and Brussels sprouts, to name a few.
- Avoid foods that contain trans fats
Trans fats are created by pumping hydrogen into unsaturated fats, such as soybean oil. They’re found in some margarines and spreads.
Some studies have linked a high intake of trans fat to increased belly fat gain. To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, read ingredient labels carefully and stay away from products that contain trans fats. These are often listed as partially hydrogenated fats. Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, limiting your intake of trans fat is a good idea.
- Exercise 30 mins a day, five times a week
Combine this healthier eating with a regular exercise regime and you will successfully lose belly fat. You should try to take part in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, at least five days a week. By raising your heart rate for 30 minutes, at least three times per week, you are effectively slowing down how much visceral fat you gain.
- Limit your alcohol intake
Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption to a significantly increased risk of developing central obesity — that is, excess fat storage around the waist. Cutting back on alcohol may help reduce your waist size. You don’t need to give it up altogether, but limiting the amount you drink in a single day can help.
- Reduce sugar and sugary food consumption
Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess. It’s important to realise that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even healthier sugars, such as honey, should be used sparingly.
- Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a very healthy beverage. It contains caffeine and the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), both of which appear to boost metabolism. Regularly drinking green tea has been linked to weight loss, though it’s probably not as effective on its own and best combined with exercise
There are no magic solutions to losing belly fat. The best way to lose belly fat is to make small, but impactful changes to your overall diet and lifestyle. This way you can maintain your health, wellbeing and weight.