Belly fat is the most harmful fat for our bodies. But unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet to banish it (despite what many adverts might tell us).
However, don’t despair, you can lose that spare tire. It just takes a multi-pronged approach and a smidgen of patience.
1. Up your vitamin C. Eating enough Vitamin C can make a big difference to reducing stomach fat. People with low levels of vitamin C are unable to use stored fat effectively so it’s just left to lie there, often in the belly area. Insufficient vitamin C also leads to reduced fat burning during exercise, however strenuous, as it is unable to metabolise the fat. If you’re one of those unlucky ones who can’t lose weight despite exercising, eat more vitamin-C rich foods like kiwis, strawberries, peppers and kale.
2. Do strength training. While aerobic exercise is important for your health, you need to include weight training to reduce your waistline. And that doesn’t mean just crunchies. This Harvard study showed that general weight training had a bigger impact on belly fat than cardio workouts. This is because it burns calories while improving insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake. Just 10 minutes 3 times a week can make a big difference. Try lifting weights, kettlebells and doing some plank variations.
3. Eat plenty of good fat. As well as keeping our hearts healthy and reducing inflammation, monosaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) could stop belly fat forming. Recent research showed that people whose daily diet was 25% MUFAs gained no visceral fat, while those who ate more carbs gained fat on their midriffs. So eat more olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate!
4. Reduce stress. Your belly bulge might be caused more by stress than overeating. When stressed, we produce cortisol, which tells the body to cling onto abdominal fat. So no matter how healthy you eat or hard you exercise, you will retain your belly flab. Take steps to reduce stress such as running, yoga and some guided meditation.
5. Get a good night’s sleep. Can you really lose belly fat by catching some extra zs? It seems you can. Insufficient sleep has been linked to increased belly fat. The hormone ghrelin shoots up when you’re tired – sparking cravings for carbs and sugar, not great for the waistline. A solid 7-8 hours is the optimum time for the lowest risk of weight gain. Ensuring you get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week will help improve your sleep quality, so keep up those gym visits!
by Kath Webb
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