The good news is that losing belly fat can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The key is eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Combining a few simple tips can boost your chances of getting rid of excess belly fat: eat whole foods, exercise consistently, get plenty of sleep and incorporate stress-reduction techniques.
Getting enough exercise is important for overall health, but it’s especially beneficial for reducing belly fat. Cardio exercises such as brisk walking, swimming or running can help create a calorie deficit that leads to belly fat loss over time. Incorporating high-intensity interval training or HIIT into your workout routine — in which short bursts of intense exercise are alternated with periods of rest — can also improve your fitness level and reduce belly fat.
Spot exercises like crunches and sit-ups can tighten abdominal muscles, but they won’t burn belly fat. To reduce visceral fat, you need to lower your overall body fat with moderate-intensity exercise and a healthy diet.
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and foods and opt for natural forms of sweetness, such as berries, unsweetened tea or plain yogurt. Limiting intake of saturated and trans fats — found in meat, butter and processed foods — can help reduce belly fat as well. Choose “good” fats, such as those from avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.
Many people seek advice about how to lose belly fat because it’s unsightly. More importantly, it poses serious health risks. Belly fat, or visceral fat, accumulates deep inside the abdomen and surrounds internal organs, raising your risk for chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions.
Eating a healthy diet is the best way to reduce belly fat. While spot reduction is not possible, a calorie deficit encourages the body to burn stored fat, including belly fat.
Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains to provide nutrients while decreasing calories. Choose lean protein and limit refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.
Skip sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice, which provide extra calories and may promote belly fat. Opt for water or unsweetened iced tea instead. Also limit fatty meats and full-fat dairy products, as they’re higher in saturated fat.
Sleep helps keep your hormones in check, including those that control hunger and satiety. One study from Mayo Clinic researchers found that sleeping less than seven hours per night leads to increased ghrelin, or the “hunger hormone,” and decreased leptin, which tells your body when you are full. This change in hormone production can lead to an increase in the amount of fat stored inside your abdomen.
The same study found that people who were sleep deprived had an 11 percent increase in the accumulation of visceral fat, which is deposited in your abdominal cavity and is linked to heart disease and metabolic diseases. Catching up on sleep didn’t reverse this trend, further suggesting that poor sleep is a long-term contributor to belly fat accumulation.
In addition, research has shown that reducing sleep duration decreases the rate of fat loss during a caloric restriction diet. This is because a lack of sleep causes your body to increase cortisol levels, which cause the body to save fat for energy rather than burn it.
Stress is a natural part of life, but long-term stress can do serious damage to your mental and physical health. This includes a buildup of excess abdominal fat known as a “stress belly,” which can lead to a host of health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breathing issues.
Chronic stress leads to a spike in cortisol, which tells your body to store fat around the abdomen. High levels of cortisol also suppress your metabolism, making it harder to burn belly fat.
Getting enough sleep and learning to manage your stress levels are essential to help you lose belly fat. Talk to a nutritionist at your local Elevation Fitness Burleigh Heads gym who can help you create a meal plan that is right for your lifestyle and nutritional needs. They can also offer you a range of exercise classes that will help to burn belly fat! Drinking plenty of water also helps to keep your metabolism in balance and reduce the effects of cortisol.