Whether you want to lose belly fat for health reasons or just to fit into your skinny jeans, there are plenty of ways to get rid of unwanted excess weight. Belly fat, or visceral fat, accumulates near your organs and increases your risk for serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Research shows that you can lose belly fat by exercising and by eating a healthy diet. Exercise helps tone muscles and boost metabolism, while a healthy diet controls calories to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
To get the most out of your belly fat workouts, choose a mix of exercises that target different muscle groups. For example, mountain climbers target the upper abs and core while tricep kickbacks burn calories in your back and shoulders. Similarly, lunge twists work the lower body and are a good choice for beginners.
The best belly fat exercises include high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These routines involve short bursts of intense activity followed by rest periods. Research suggests that HIIT can help you trim visceral fat while strengthening your abdomen and improving your metabolic rate.
HIIT workouts also include resistance training, which targets the entire body and burns more calories when you are at rest. Some examples of resistance training include bicep curls, lunges, squats and tricep kickbacks.
Having too much belly fat increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. But it’s not just genetics and age that cause belly fat; a poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep are also to blame.
While it’s impossible to spot reduce fat, a healthy diet can help shrink the waistline and reduce visceral fat (the harmful kind that surrounds organs in your abdomen) that heightens health risks. It’s important to avoid fad diets, which often focus on one trick or quick fixes; instead, try to make small changes over time that can lead to long-term results.
Eat plenty of fruits, whole grains, vegetables and proteins such as beans and lentils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. Protein can increase muscle mass, improve digestion and stave off hunger. It’s also important to get enough sleep and moderate your stress levels. Aim for about seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Stress is a natural part of life, but it can also have negative side effects like belly fat. Managing your stress levels can help you lose that excess weight around the stomach area, and there are many ways to do it. For example, you can meditate, practice yoga or do breathing exercises. You can also reduce your stress level by getting plenty of sleep and avoiding caffeine or other stimulants.
The stress hormone cortisol releases stored fat into the bloodstream and sends it directly to the belly area. This extra fat can increase your appetite and cause you to eat more calories. It is also linked to a higher body mass index (BMI).
One way to reduce your stress levels is to exercise regularly. However, you should avoid high-intensity workouts, as they can raise cortisol levels. Instead, try moderate-intensity workouts like yoga or walking. You can also incorporate stress-reducing supplements into your diet, such as melatonin or garcinia Cambogia.
Getting enough sleep can help you lose belly fat. That’s because your metabolism and hormone levels are better regulated when you get a good night’s sleep.
Studies have shown that people who sleep less than five hours per night tend to gain more visceral fat, the type of fat that accumulates deep in your abdomen and is linked to heart disease and type 2-diabetes, than those who get six or more hours of shut-eye each night.
Sleep deprivation causes hunger and disrupts appetite hormones. As a result, you’re more likely to overeat and to consume empty calories. It also interferes with your ability to give it your best on the gym floor, which can slow down your weight loss.
To get your best night’s rest, go to bed earlier, keep your bedroom cool and dark, and avoid screen time (like texting and emailing) right before you turn in. And try to relax before bed with a soothing activity like reading or meditation.