How to slim your waistline and shed those unwanted pounds
We know it all too well, the infamous belly fat that won’t budge, no matter what you do.
Many of us fantasise about having a flat or chiselled stomach, only to see the flab of a “one-pack” staring right back at us.
First of all, we want to tell you to stop being so hard on yourself! Some people are genetically predisposed to carry more weight around their gut, while others carry excess weight differently (like on their hips and thighs, for example).
The problem is that belly fat has been linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease and more, so it is something we should work on keeping to a minimum.
Since it’s so easy to develop excess stomach fat as an adult, let’s take a look at how to lose belly fat once and for all.
Why is it hard to lose belly fat?
As we age, our metabolism slows down, making it easier to gain weight, and harder to lose.
If you think back to your 20’s, life was simple and you could eat pretty much whatever you wanted without weight gain. Or, if you did gain weight, it was relatively quick and easy to lose.
Fast forward to your 30’s and beyond, and weight loss becomes a lot more challenging.
Factors that play a role in the storage of belly fat:
- Age – The older you are, the harder it is to lose weight
- Diet – Too many calories will lead to weight gain over time
- Sedentary lifestyle – The less you move, the more you gain
- Stress – Cortisol is a stress hormone that increases the risk of gaining belly fat
Stomach fat is also linked to inflammation in the body, which leads to insulin resistance and other health risks.
When you lose belly fat, you improve your health
Articles and research prove that excess stomach fat poses serious health risks. The more science digs into the risks associated with belly fat, the more clear it’s become that this type of fat is dangerous and even life-threatening.
Stomach fat is known as “visceral fat”. The location puts this fat closer to the vital organs and arteries. Unlike “subcutaneous fat” which is typically found under the skin in places like the arms, legs, and other parts of the body, visceral fat is linked to increased health-risks.
Excess stomach fat (visceral fat) can increase the risks of chronic conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
15 Tips to lose belly fat
Here are some tips to help you get a handle on your belly fat woes. Now you can take back your health and your wellness and start feeling better!
1. Eat “clean” foods
It goes without saying that if you want to lose belly fat, you need to eat clean. Unprocessed foods are “clean”, fresh, and good for you. Think in terms of “whole” foods that are not further refined or processed in any way. For example, a whole apple is preferable to apple juice.
Processed foods are packed with preservatives, colourants, and artificial flavours that are not in any way healthy and can even contribute to mid-section weight gain.
When you eat healthily, you also help your body to lower inflammation and in turn, improve your mood. For more tips on healthy eating, click here.
2. Up your intake of fibre
Fibre is good for you and plays an essential role in the health of your gut. Fibre improves digestion by slowing down the transit of food through the bowls. In other words, you’ll feel sustained for longer and thus, you’ll eat less. It also keeps you “regular”.
Foods rich in fibre include bran, whole wheat, nuts, flaxseeds, blackberries, avocados, legumes, and Brussel sprouts to name a few.
3. Cut out trans fats
Trans fats are unhealthy fats found in fried foods, crisps, sweets, chocolates, and cake, to name a few. While you maybe cannot escape trans fat completely, deliberately reducing the amount you take in will help a great deal.
4. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol, especially beer, can increase fat in the stomach. Excessive drinking of alcohol will increase inflammation and as we’ve mentioned, inflammation can lead to increased belly fat and a whole host of other unwanted health issues.
That said, excessive alcohol drinking can also harm the stomach lining, cause liver disease and can contribute towards obesity.
5. Get moving
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is often associated with obesity and naturally, that includes belly fat. To help control your weight gain, start exercising more often than you usually would.
If your job requires sitting in front of a desk for too long, opt to take breaks every hour and get moving.
6. Up your exercise game
Once you’re accustomed to moving more throughout the day, it’s time to add exercise to your routine. Resistance training using weights or even just your own body weight will help you build strength and increase your muscle mass. This can help you get rid of some of the belly fat and that’s a good thing. Building lean muscle is an important part of maintaining a healthy, lean and youthful physique.
You could mix up your routine by adding some cardio and stretching moves to bring balance into your regimen.
7. Reduce your stress levels
Life can be busy which is why it’s so important to manage your stress levels. Our natural “fight or flight” response to stress is normal because it’s what helped us survive wild animals back in the hunter-gatherer days.
Now, however, feeling perpetually stressed and anxious is causing far more harm than good.
Breathing exercises also do a great deal to help lower feelings of stress. The practice increases mood uplifting hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. These mood-enhancing hormones also lower inflammation in the body.
8. Get a good night’s sleep
Being sleep-deprived not only makes one cranky, exhausted and feeling down, it can also increase the negative effects of belly fat. Getting a good night’s rest every night is essential to overall health and wellbeing. While the body is in the stage of rest, it does certain functions like repairing tissue and regenerating cells.
For some natural ways to improve your sleep quality, read this blog here.
If you are suffering from unrelenting insomnia, speak to your GP.
9. Drink bone broth
Although this may not sound like the ideal dish, it comes with plenty of wholesome goodness. Bone broth is rich in collagen and helps to reduce inflammation and gut fat too. When drinking bone broth, you not only get the flavour but also all the nutrition from the bones.
This is easily made by cooking some bones (chicken necks, knuckles, or bones with sinew), add seasoning and cook over low heat. There are plenty of simple recipes for bone broth online.
10. Eat more healthy fats
Healthy fats are those you find in lean meat like chicken and fish, as well as olive oil, nuts and seeds. Healthy fats keep you fuller for longer, which means you’ll be less tempted by fattening carbohydrate snacks.
11. Hydrate with good ol’ water
Water is important to our bodies and staying hydrated is essential. But apart from drinking water to quench your thirst, water may also help to keep hunger at bay. It could supplement your weight loss and keep you feeling a bit fuller.
Add a splash of lemon juice, mint and ginger to combat inflammation at the same time.
12. Quit smoking
You may have heard that quitting smoking can lead to binge hunger and eating. While this may be true in some ways, if you cut out cigarettes, you are one step ahead to a healthier you.
Based on research, smokers may develop more visceral fat than non-smokers. This can lead to insulin resistance which inevitably leads to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.
13. Stop doing crunches (sit-ups)
While sit-ups were long believed to be the one and the only way to get your stomach into 6 pack shape, the truth is crunches aren’t very effective. That’s because to see your abs, you need to shed body fat from your entire body, and unfortunately, it’s impossible to spot-reduce. So if you want to lose belly fat, you need a different approach.
Sit-ups and other core exercises will certainly firm up your stomach muscles beneath the flat, but it won’t be able to reduce the fat on your belly directly.
For true progress, you need a healthy diet and do regular full-body workouts using weights. Throw in a few cardio sessions per week to see the best results.
14. Use Himalayan salt
If you struggle with excessive water retention, consider cutting down your overall salt intake. You can also switch to Himalayan salt (but still watch your daily salt intake).
Himalayan salt is not just trendy, it’s quite healthy too. Why? Because the sodium content is a bit less than regular table salt and this can reduce water retention. In addition, it consists of trace minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
15. Lower your screen time
Yes, binge-watching your favourite TV shows can be fun sometimes. Catching up on all the episodes and movies you missed might feel relaxing in that moment, but it’s astounding how many hours can fly by where you barely move a muscle.
The same goes for mindlessly scrolling through your favourite social media channels on your phone or playing computer games for hours on end.
Sitting for prolonged periods will contribute to poor blood circulation, tempt you into mindless snacking and is a fast-track way to gain weight.
Closing thoughts about how to lose belly fat
It might feel impossible to shed the extra pounds around your waist, but by implementing these simple tips and being consistent with your efforts, you will be creating a healthier life.
Once you lose belly fat, you instantly lower your risk of several life-threatening conditions, so start making these changes and keep going even if you don’t see an immediate change.
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