Losing weight from any part of your body could be difficult, as many of us know all too well. But the good news is, shedding belly fat could be a tiny bit easier than slimming down your hips, thighs, or other parts of your body. But just because belly fat comes off a bit more easily doesn’t make it less dangerous. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Belly fat is unfortunately the most dangerous location to store fat. Because belly fat, referred to as visceral fat, that surrounds your organs is more temporary, it’s more active in terms of circulating in the bloodstream. That means it’s likely to raise the amount of fat in your blood (blood lipid levels) and increase your blood sugar levels, which as a result raises your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Now…is there really a magic bullet — a fast and easy way to get rid of stubborn belly fat — as so many ads and commercials claim? Sadly, no, there is not. But here’s what you can do.1. Avoid foods that contain trans fats
Some studies have linked a high intake of trans fat with increased belly fat gain. Whether or not you are trying to lose weight, limiting your intake of trans fat is a good idea. Trans fats are found in some margarines and often added to packaged foods. These fats have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, insulin resistance and abdominal fat gain in observational and several studies. To help reduce belly fat and protect your health, stay away from products that contain trans fats.2. Consume more fibers
Foods that are high in refined carbs and sugar don’t actually tame your hunger, so you end up reaching for more. Hello, weight gain! Instead, load up on foods high in fiber like whole wheat breads, oats, vegetables, fruits, beans, and chia seeds. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system. Studies show that this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full, so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from food.3. Limit your alcohol consumption
Alcohol is known to have health benefits, if consumed in small amounts. But it is seriously harmful if you drink too much. Excessive alcohol intake has been associated with increased belly fat. Observational studies link heavy alcohol consumption to a significantly increased risk of central obesity (excess fat storage around the waist). If you need to reduce your waistline, consider drinking alcohol in moderation or refrain completely.4. Indulge in a high protein diet
There’s a reason everyone “over-talk” about protein: not only does it help keep you full, but it’s also responsible for repairing the tiny tears caused by strength training in your muscles. This helps them grow bigger and stronger, nudging out body fat in the process.
This is especially important before you exercise. We’re all guilty of going hard at the gym, and then heading straight to Mc Donald’s after because we’re SUPER HUNGRY. The result? You eat more calories than you burn and end up with excess belly fat. To prevent yourself from feeling hungry after a workout, eat a snack with at least 12 grams of protein before your workout to help curb any hunger that might approach as you burn calories. Be sure to include a good protein source at every meal, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, whey protein or beans.5. Say ‘Adios’ to stress
Stress can mess with every part of your body. But how you deal with it can make or break your weight loss goals. In most cases, when we’re dealing with stress, we tend to eat more because we use food as a substitute for dealing with stress. The truth is, eating food to make yourself feel better is usually a whole lot easier than actually facing the stress head-on. Stress-eating can only lead to one thing: growing your belly rather than trimming it. Try to engage in pleasurable activities that relieve stress, such as practicing yoga or meditation.6. Eliminate sugary foods and beverages
Excessive sugar intake is a major cause of weight gain in many people. Sugar contains fructose, which has been linked to several chronic diseases when consumed in excess. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease. It’s important to realize that more than just refined sugar can lead to belly fat gain. Even healthier sugars, such as real honey, should be used carefully. Replacing sugary beverages with water will help dramatically cut down your sugar intake, and then once you’ve taken that step, you can figure out how to cut down on foods that are high in sugar. If you have a sweet tooth and need to put that final accent to your meal, eat an apple, melon or fresh berries.7. Commit to physical lifestyle
The single most important thing people can do to prevent the buildup of belly fat and get rid of existing belly fat is commit to physical activity, and better yet, a physical lifestyle. For both men and women, the first fat you lose when you exercise is visceral fat. Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an effective way to improve your health and burn calories. Studies suggest it’s particularly effective in slimming your waistline.
If you don’t have an established exercise routine, simply walking is the best first step toward weight loss. Walking is a pretty good entry point for people. This is particularly true if you have been out of the gym for a while and want to ease back into a workout routine. An easy way to approach it: commit to going for a quick 10-minute walk after dinner, and slowly increase the time as you become more comfortable with daily movement.8. Try a low-carb diet
There’s a reason low-carb diets have made a huge comeback: they work for many people. That’s because it causes a mild ketosis, which is a fat-burning state that should make you feel less hungry. The key in being successful with a low-carb diet (especially if you’re used to a more high-carb lifestyle) is to compensate for those lost carbs with protein-rich foods. That way, your volume of food stays the same, but you’re doing it healthfully. Plus, a low-carb diet helps decrease your overall calorie intake since you’re replacing unsatisfying calories with more filling ones.9. Prioritize sleep
Sleep is important for many aspects of your health, including weight. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight, which may include belly fat. If you’re only getting a minimal amount of sleep each night, that leaves more time for you to snack and make otherwise unhealthy decisions that could affect your weight loss. Although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep you actually need to be most effective, the ideal number is typically 7 or 8 hours. In addition to sleeping at least 7 or 8 hours per night, make sure you’re getting sufficient quality sleep. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, speak to a doctor and get treated.10. Change your lifestyle
Losing weight and keeping it off is impossible unless you permanently change your dietary habits and lifestyle. Just doing one of the items on this list won’t have a big effect on its own. If you want good results, you need to combine different methods that have been shown to be effective. Interestingly, many of these are things generally associated with healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle. Therefore, changing your lifestyle for the long term is the key to losing your belly fat and keeping it off. When you have healthy habits and eat real food, fat loss tends to follow as a natural side effect.
A big part of weight loss is simply being aware of the decisions you’re making as to what you’re putting in your body and the activities you’re taking part in. For example, you might not realize just how much you eat when you go out for dinner with friends. But if you take the split second to take a step back and make yourself aware of that fact, you’re more able to make a healthy decision. Just keep in mind that in order to see real results with slimming your belly, it really comes down to three things: nutrition, exercise, and dedication.