Everyone wants a flat stomach, but do you really know the best way to lose belly fat? If you’re plagued by belly fat, you’ve probably tried plenty of ways to lose it.
Crunches, liquid diets, and pills might have been your go-to answers before but there are better ways to lose belly fat that will last forever. With these seven secrets, you’ll be well on your way to your best body ever.
What is Belly Fat and Why Should You Find the Best Way to Lose It?
That bulge around your middle is probably the first thing you think of when you think of belly fat. But there’s a deeper story, and it’s called visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat inside your body that surrounds your organs like your lungs, heart, and liver. Some visceral fat is necessary because it provides a cushion in between your organs so they don’t bump into and harm each other.
Health problems start occurring when you gain too much visceral fat, though. When this deeper fat accumulates and grows too large it can inhibit the organs from functioning properly. Even though your organs need to be cushioned from each other, they still need room to operate smoothly. When visceral fat gets too large it starts to smother and smash the organs together, preventing them from doing their jobs.
And the worst part is that you don’t have to look fat to have this problem. Even thin people have visceral fat. But you can’t know for sure how much visceral fat you have unless you get a CT scan or an MRI. That can be costly and out of the question for some people.
Another Way to Look at and Beat Belly Fat
But you don’t need to get an expensive MRI to get an idea of whether belly fat is a problem for you. Simply take a tape measure and wrap it around your belly at your natural waistline. As a general rule, if the number is less than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, you probably don’t have a problem with belly fat.
Another way to determine if you need to find the best way to lose belly fat is to look at the shape of your torso. Consider the area from your shoulders down to your hips. If you have a pear shape with your hips larger than your waist, you may not have a problem with belly fat. If you have an apple shape with your waist larger than your hips, you’re at risk of having health problems related to fat.
Why is Losing Belly Fat So Important?
Losing belly fat isn’t just a matter of looking your best on the outside. Having too much fat, especially too much visceral fat, can lead to serious health problems. Here are just a few of the life-threatening diseases that can occur if you don’t lose the belly fat.
High Blood Pressure
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure occurs when the heart has to work too hard to pump blood to the rest of your body’s organs through the blood vessels.
When you have too much visceral fat, the heart doesn’t have enough room to pump blood efficiently. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to other diseases, such as stroke and heart failure.
Type 2 Diabetes
In Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or your body doesn’t respond correctly to insulin and becomes insulin resistant. A lack of physical activity and obesity are the two most common causes of Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can lead to circulatory problems and kidney failure.
Your heart is one of your most important organs, pumping blood throughout your entire body. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
Visceral fat can surround your heart and keep it from working like it should, which may also contribute to a buildup of fat and blockages in your heart and arteries. The bottom line about heart disease is that it will kill you if left untreated.
More a syndrome than a disease, dementia affects how your brain functions. Poor judgment and memory loss are two signs of dementia. While it might not seem like belly fat could lead to problems with your brain, it actually can.
Vascular dementia is often caused by a stroke, which can be brought on by heart disease or high blood pressure. Because belly fat can lead to both of these instances, it’s a prime factor in the occurrence of dementia.
Being overweight, and especially holding extra fat around your middle, can lead to higher risk of certain cancers. Breast cancer, which now affects 1 in 8 women, is more likely to occur in women with extra belly fat.
Inflammation, which is very much a problem for people with too much visceral fat, is a long-term risk factor for colon cancer. Esophagus, kidney, and pancreas cancers are also prevalent for overweight and obese people.
Best Way to Lose Belly Fat: Follow these 7 Tips
You’re probably convinced by now that losing that belly fat is good for you, so what is the best way to lose belly fat? These seven simple tricks will help get you on the right track to a smaller waist and better health.
1. Change the Way You Look at Calories
For decades, doctors have been telling everyone the same, tired thing: to lose weight you have to take in fewer calories than you expend. It seems simple, but the truth is that decreasing your calories alone doesn’t help you lose weight and keep it off. Here’s an example.
A glazed donut has about 400 calories. You could eat three donuts a day and nothing else to keep your calories at 1200 for the day. You might lose some weight in the beginning, but there are a few problems with this scenario. First, you won’t be able to maintain this diet forever. Eventually, you will get tired of only eating donuts.
Second, your body won’t be getting the nutrients it needs to survive and you’ll develop other health problems.
Third, the ingredients in donuts—especially the sugar—have been proven to cause inflammation and increase your risks of colon cancer so you’ll be harming the rest of your body instead of getting healthier. Lastly, you’ll be so exhausted from sugar highs and lows that you may end up on the yo-yo dieting roller coaster and be gaining more weight.
For a saner approach, don’t just look at the number of calories you’re eating; look at what you’re getting from those calories. Ask yourself if those calories are providing you with the things your body needs: the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to give you long-lasting energy and health. When you change the way you see food to something that supports your health instead of just a means to an end, it can help you lose that stubborn belly fat and keep it off for good.
2. Increase Your Soluble Fiber Intake
There are two types of fiber in foods: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble is what you might think of first, the fiber that adds bulk to waste and used to be called “roughage.” While this type of fiber is good for you and helps fight constipation, soluble fiber plays a role in helping you lose belly fat. Soluble fiber is softer and stickier and forms a gel-like substance in your gut.
Soluble fiber helps regulate your blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol by increasing the good bacteria in your gut. This will improve your immunity and decrease inflammation. One five-year study showed that people who increase their soluble fiber decreased their belly fat by 3.7 percent.
So what are the best sources of Soluble fiber? Flax seeds, avocados, brussels sprouts, and blackberries are all good choices for soluble fiber.
3. Change the Way You Look at Fatty Foods
You might think the best way to lose belly fat is to cut out all fatty foods. But not all fats are created equally. Some fats, like trans fats, do lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, inflammation, heart disease and increased belly fat, especially in women. Trans fats are not naturally occurring fats and are created when hydrogen is pumped into unsaturated fats. These are found in processed foods, margarine, and spreads.
But fats that are found naturally in foods are much better for your body and can actually help you reduce belly fat. The fats in whole foods like nuts and seeds help fight inflammation. Cocoa, avocado, and olives also contain healthy fats. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies provide your body with omega-3 fats which protect you from disease, combat fatty liver and reduce visceral fat.
4. Try a Different Kind of Oil
Some fats can have a direct effect on the amount of fat you store in your body, including your visceral fat. Another best way to lose belly fat, make a simple change to include coconut oil in your diet. Studies have shown that you can lose over an inch from your waist just by taking one tablespoon of coconut oil daily. This happens because medium-chain fats (MCT) in the coconut oil decrease the fat that’s stored in your body and boosts metabolism.
5. Eat More Protein-Rich Foods
Protein is the building block for muscle in your body, but it provides a lot more than that, too.
You increase your metabolic rate when you eat protein, which means you burn more calories and burn them more efficiently. Eating protein also releases a fullness hormone, PYY, which decreases your appetite and makes you feel full faster so you don’t overeat. Eating high-quality protein is also a great way to lose belly fat. But how much do you need?
You should aim to eat protein with every meal. A good rule of thumb is to fill about one-third of your plate with nutrient-dense protein. You can also aim for about 40 percent of your daily calories to come from quality protein.
Shellfish and fatty fish are the best choices because they also include essential fat-burning fats. Other good choices include humanely raised seafood and meats such as catfish, cod, shrimp, trout, grass-fed beef, chicken, lamb and turkey.
6. Get Rid of the Sugars, Yes All of Them!
High sugar intake alone has been shown to cause increased abdominal fat, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Any food with refined white sugar can cause blood sugar spikes, so steering clear of candy, cakes, and sweets is a good idea. Soda pop and other sugary drinks are also prime culprits, but sugars hide in all kinds of places and come in other forms, too.
Fruit juices may seem like a natural choice, but these are usually high in fructose, or fruit sugar, which is just as threatening to your health, and just as fattening. Honey is another natural sweetener that can cause blood sugar spikes and add to your belly fat.
To reduce your sugar intake, first get rid of processed foods. If foods don’t occur in nature, they probably aren’t good for you and may contain added sugars. Next, choose whole foods that are low-fructose fruits to lessen the impact they have on your blood sugar and help reduce your belly fat.
Great SANE choices for low-fructose fruits are acai berry, goji berry, noni fruit and mangosteen. Other good choices include berries like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, melons like cantaloupe and casaba, and citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit.
7. Exercise Less
That’s right, you read that correctly: exercise less.
While it’s almost always going to help you to get some exercise, exercising too much can put undue strain on your body and cause injuries. Starting out slowly helps your body adjust naturally, prevents injury and reduces inflammation.
Lifting weights, also known as resistance training, has been shown to decrease visceral fat faster than aerobic exercise alone. This type of exercise also reduces the risk for metabolic syndrome, a syndrome that is linked to increased belly fat and affects your body’s ability to use and store energy.
So don’t forget this one because it is great news: Exercise less for better health and lasting weight loss!
Putting It All Together To Lose Belly Fat
By putting all seven tricks together, you can achieve belly fat loss that lasts. The SANE solution can help you put all these aspects together simply by remembering the SANE acronym:
Satiety: how quickly calories fill you up
Aggression: how likely calories are to be stored as fat
Nutrition: how many vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc., calories provide
Efficiency: how easily calories are converted into body fat
Next Step: Best Way to Lose Belly Fat with SANE
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