Six ways to lose belly fat

BELLY FAT is not impossible to get rid of, although it may feel like it.

It’s perfectly normal to have a layer of fat around the middle.

Belly fat decreases as you lose weight in general


Belly fat decreases as you lose weight in generalPhoto credit: Shutterstock

But experts say carrying an extra hoop around your waist could put you at risk of health problems.

This simple thread test can indicate if you are overweight or obese.

Losing belly fat essentially depends on losing weight in general.

No matter how many sit-ups you do, it’s not possible to shed belly fat without looking at your overall weight, experts say.

But if you’re doing everything right — eating healthy and exercising, for example — and still not seeing results, you could be missing an important trick.

Managing stress is vital, says Pippa Campbell, a Jersey-based nutritionist.

She told The Sun, “Two big things I look for in new clients who are suffering from belly fat are cortisol and insulin.”

Cortisol is known as the main “stress hormone,” although it has a number of important roles throughout the body.

When times are tense or stressful, cortisol is released. While small spikes are normal, chronically high cortisol levels could become a problem.

It has been shown in research to promote overeating and increase appetite, particularly with high-sugar, high-calorie “comfort foods.”

This can lead to weight gain, as well as anxiety, headaches, trouble sleeping, and more.

Pippa said: “The cortisol response was designed to kill a tiger or run away.

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“At that point, we needed sugar to get into the brain and muscles so we could think smart and run fast.

“The problem now is Tiger’s work, divorce, juggling… it’s constant. So we crave carbs to get those sugars, and a lot can be stored as fat.”

Elevated cortisol is also linked to insulin resistance.

Insulin, another vital hormone, increases in response to stress or food. It directs cells to absorb sugar to use as energy.

“Insulin resistance is when cells stop responding to insulin, so sugar isn’t pushed into the cells and is instead stored as fat — primarily belly fat,” Pippa said.

Other side effects of insulin resistance include hunger and carbohydrate cravings, which further aggravates the problem.

So what’s the solution?

Pippa said we can fight belly fat “by addressing causes like stress management and carb reduction.”

In particular, she recommended limiting foods with a high glycemic load (GI), as they cause high blood sugar levels.

High GI foods are white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies, chips and fruit yogurt.

Low GI foods are broken down more slowly and therefore cause a gradual rise in blood sugar over time. This includes oatmeal, lentils, most fruits and vegetables.

Coping with stress takes time and effort. But if it’s the only thing you’re missing when trying to banish belly fat, it’s worth checking out.

However, if you want to lose belly fat, you must first look at fat loss all over your body.

Although it’s perfectly normal to have a bun or two, too much fat is a risk factor for disease.

Try these tips for losing weight and losing belly fat:

1. get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep falls into the category of stress management by helping to control cortisol levels.

Rest also helps burn body fat by curbing cravings, keeping your appetite in check, and giving you the energy to exercise more.

A Columbia University study found that sleep deprived people consumed nearly 300 more calories per day than if they had adequate rest.

This is thought to be because lack of sleep stimulates the production of our hunger hormone, ghrelin, while also lowering levels of leptin — the hormone that keeps you full.

2. Reduce sugar intake

We’re all open-minded about a cookie or a chocolate bar here and there.

But belly fat is largely linked to sugar, said Zana Morris, author of The High Fat Diet: How to lose 10lb in 14 days.

“Sugar causes the release of insulin, which in turn encourages the body to store fat, especially in the middle,” she previously told The Sun.

Insulin is made by the body to get sugar into our cells. But too much has been linked to weight gain because of the types of foods that trigger it.

So…does that mean you’ll lose that stubborn spare tire if you give up sugar?

Zana says yes.

“Restricting sugar and foods that break down quickly into sugar (e.g. fruit/bread/pasta/wine) lowers and stabilizes insulin levels and helps your body use fat for fuel.”

3. The exercise

Along with eating a balanced diet and consuming the right carbs, exercise is key to building body fat.

Lead nutritionist Helen Bond previously told The Sun: “A restricted calorie diet, respecting the proportions of the government’s Eatwell guide, and exercise in tandem is the best way to reduce body fat.

“And for the ultimate fat-burning boost, a combination of aerobic and strengthening exercise is far more effective.

“Aerobic activities like running, biking, swimming and aerobics classes increase calorie expenditure during and after exercise, while strength training like lifting weights or using our own body weight helps build muscle — and the more muscle we have, the more ours Metabolism runs faster, so we burn more calories even when we are resting.

“Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week and do strength training at least twice.”

4. Snack carefully

While many dieters try to avoid snacking, Helen says it can be key to getting more nutrients into our diets, which in turn can improve health — as long as you choose wisely.

She said: “It’s important to choose our snacks wisely – even healthy-looking snacks like reduced-fat cookies, granola bars, yogurt, granola, etc. might seem like a virtuous choice, but not all are created equal.

“Some are high in cholesterol-raising saturated fat and added or “free” sugars — the kind we should cut down on for the benefit of our teeth and our waistlines.

“It’s best to avoid highly processed or refined snack foods.

“Not only are they high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt, but they are often low in nutrients and calories and very raw, making it harder for us to control our weight.

5. Up your fiber

Dietary fiber is a nutrient that British adults just can’t get enough of.

The NHS says fiber can help with digestion and prevent constipation – which can help with bloating – while reducing the risk of diseases like colon cancer and stroke.

However, research has shown that fiber promotes weight loss, as the NHS says: “Choosing foods with fiber also makes us feel full.

A 2012 University of Carolina study found that when more than 1,000 adults increased their fiber intake by 10 g per day, belly fat levels fell by 3.7 percent — without other diet or exercise changes.

You can get more fiber by eating whole grain or whole grain alternatives to cereal, bread, or pasta.

Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, as are legumes like beans and lentils.

6. Be careful with alcohol

Alcohol is only useful for feeling good – it does nothing good for our health or for our figure.

All alcohol has calories, so when drunk in large quantities, these add up. Especially if you add the mixers – lemonade, cola or fruit juices.

“Alcohol, especially sweet fizzy drinks and beer, makes it almost impossible to lose belly fat and puts extra strain on your liver to flush out the toxins,” wrote The Healthy Mummy.

“This extra pressure on your liver can make it very difficult to build muscle, which is key to losing belly fat.”

Alcohol can also tempt you to reach for greasy hangover foods or rob you of the energy to exercise.

I’m always ashamed of fat because my belly is bigger than my butt, but I don’t care, I love my body

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