Belly fat. You really can get rid of it without starving or sweating in the gym and luckily, there are simple ways to lose belly fat.
If your clothes are getting too tight around the middle, if you find it hard to bend over and tie your shoes, if you avoid the mirror when you step out of the shower . . . you’ve probably accumulated far too much belly fat.
It’s something that tends to happen as we age, but it doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. Still, the deleterious health consequences of accumulating too much fat, especially belly fat, are far more serious as we age.
So it pays to do something about it because losing this fat will pay dividends aesthetically, health-wise, and in overall quality of life.
But What Are Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat?
You can’t spot reduce, you’ve been told over and over. You have a job and a family and a busy social life, so you don’t have hours and hours to spend in the gym, grunting and sweating with barely enough energy left to drag yourself back home. You also don’t have any desire to subsist on bean sprouts and tofu.
There are some effective alternatives, though. You can lose undesirable weight and get rid of fat in your abdominal region with some simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments.
What is Belly Fat and Why is This Fat Unhealthy?
The first thing to get clear is that there is more than one kind of belly fat.
First, there’s the fat under your abdominal-area skin, which is called subcutaneous belly fat. This is what most people think of when the subject of abdominal fat comes up. Although generally undesirable and an unsightly nuisance, subcutaneous abdominal fat isn’t really all that bad for you.
But then there’s visceral belly fat – the kind that collects inside your abdominal cavity, under the muscles, and around your organs. This kind of fat carries some serious, documented health risks.
For one thing, it has been shown to trigger inflammation, which can be an impediment to the proper functioning of your internal organs like your liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It has also been shown to have a link to certain chronic conditions such as sleep apnea, hypertension, dementia, and even cancer.
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colorectal cancer
- Premature death
What Causes Belly Fat to Accumulate?
So why do we get abdominal fat, visceral belly fat in particular? What are the factors that contribute to its accumulation?
For women, it can, in large part, be attributed to aging and the concomitant hormone disruption.
As women age, they lose muscle mass (and this goes for men too), which results in a slower metabolism and easier weight gain in the form of fat. This is usually accompanied by lower estrogen levels, which can affect fat distribution in their bodies.
And then there’s the genetic component that determines, for both men and women, how much and where fat accumulates. There’s not much we can about our genetics.
But there is some good news in all this . . .
Belly-fat accumulation is also affected by other factors that you can control. These are mostly lifestyle factors, and you can definitely do something about them. For example . . .
- Physical inactivity especially longs periods of uninterrupted sitting
- Consumption of too many refined carbs and sugary foods and drinks
- Low protein and fiber consumption
- Hormonal imbalances
And it is true that you can’t spot reduce – that is get rid of fat in just one area of your body – when it comes to subcutaneous fat. But that doesn’t hold so much for visceral belly fat – you can target it to a degree.
What Are the 5 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat?
So how do you know if you really do need to get rid of some belly fat?
You can easily make this determination with a measuring tape. An abdominal circumference of 35+ inches for women and 40+ inches for men is an indication of excessive belly fat and abdominal obesity. And if you don’t like what the tape tells you, here’s what you can do . . .
1. Cut Out the Sugar
As much as possible, you should avoid refined sugars, especially those sugary drinks we all like so much.
Excessive sugar consumption overloads your liver with fructose, and your liver winds up converting it into fat instead of metabolizing it. In fact, a number of studies have shown that consuming a lot of sugar, fructose, in particular, plays a significant role in the accumulation of abdominal fat, especially around the liver.
And this often leads to insulin resistance (which may become full-blown diabetes) along with other metabolic problems.
2. Get More Fiber
You should also up your fiber intake (particularly so when you increase protein consumption).
Because fiber is mainly an indigestible plant matter, it helps move food through your digestive system. A reputable five-year study found that by eating a mere 10 grams of soluble fiber every day, you can reduce visceral belly fat by 3.7%.
So the best kind of fiber to get in your diet is soluble, viscous fiber – the kind that makes you feel full longer to reduce appetite, which helps you avoid overeating and so helps you shed fat.
Make sure, then, to eat plenty of fibrous plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain cereals. If you find it difficult to eat so many fiber-heavy foods, you can use a quality soluble-fiber supplement.
3. Consume More Protein
This one will be easy for most of us because we love our steak, ribs, and burgers. Keep in mind, though, that “more” means more in proportion to the carbs you consume, and the protein must be quality protein primarily from food.
Consuming more protein has been shown to have several fat-loss and general-health benefits. It can reduce hunger cravings (by as much as 60%), as well as boosting your metabolism.
And this doesn’t mean you have to gorge yourself on beef, chicken, and pork. Just make sure you never eat any carbs without also eating some quality protein along with those carbs.
Protein is probably your most important macronutrient – you have to have it for both maintaining and increasing muscle mass and for losing fat, especially belly fat.
As a general rule, people who eat more better-quality protein carry around less visceral fat. According to one study, “quality protein intake is inversely related to abdominal fat.”
4. Get Enough Quality Sleep
To lose belly fat, you also have to get sufficient quality sleep.
So don’t stay up so late watching the tube or surfing the Internet – just go to bed. Getting enough quality sleep has been proven to contribute to weight management and overall health, including mental health.
Sleep deprivation is one of the prime contributors to weight gain, especially belly fat. That’s why shift work is so unhealthy – people’s sleep patterns are disrupted, and they wind up being chronically sleep-deprived.
So shoot for at least seven, preferably eight, hours of sleep every night. When you sleep enough, you’ll likely see improvements in your heart health, moods, mental acuity, and stress levels.
Keep in mind, though, that the quality of your sleep matters as much as the amount. So do everything in your power to avoid or get rid of the bane of sleep apnea: get rid of sleep distractions, cut down on the alcohol, stop smoking, and get a little exercise.
5. Decrease (or at Least Manage) Stress
Stress – it’s the curse of our modern, busy, urban lives. But if health is your goal, you have to decrease it or at least learn to manage it. Here’s why . . .
Stress increases your body’s production of the hormone cortisol to excessive and sustained levels. (You do need cortisol for appropriate fight-or-flight responses, but not so much of it and not for so long.)
Chronically heightened cortisol levels can lead to hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and, of course, more abdominal fat. So whether it’s meditation, prayer, or exercise, you should do whatever you can to eliminate or reduce stress in your life.
Taking Abdominal Fat Loss a Step Further
Now, if you want to do more than just lose visceral belly fat, you can. You really can get that flat stomach and those visible abs – even the six-pack – you’ve always wanted. And it’s not as hard as you think.
Get started today . . . and reach your health and body-shape goals.