A sedentary lifestyle is highly associated with visceral fat, not only because it usually means a lack of physical exercise, but also because it’s associated with lower metabolic levels, higher intake of unhealthy food, and psychological effects such as stress, anxiety, and guilt. This is according to a research paper published in the Obesity journal. By staying active as much as possible (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, standing up while working, or taking a bike to work), you can keep your physical and mental energy high, preventing the development of belly fat.
If you are serious about your desire to lose belly fat, you need to stop indulging in junk food. That includes any type of fast-foods or convenience foods you buy. These foods are high in calories, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar and low on vitamins and minerals. They do not help you lose belly fat, but impede your efforts. It is incredibly difficult to reduce your calorie intake and eat high-calorie foods. Why? Because these foods are high in calories, but they are not as filling as they should be considering their high calorie content. Therefore, after eating junk food, you are hungry faster and end up overeating.
A 2018 study among more than 600 adults who were tracked for a year concluded that while there are different paths to weight loss, the advice to limit added sugars and refined grains, add more veggies to your plate, and eat more whole foods — in other words, focusing on the quality of your diet — is the way to go. People who followed this advice lost weight without worrying about calories.
While constant overeating, i.e. consuming more calories that you burn, will lead to increases in body fat generally, and belly fat specifically, there are other reasons that can cause a big belly. Factors that can influence belly fat include gender, genetics, hormones, body shape, lifestyle and certain foods. An effective plan to lose belly fat must addresses the causes for why you are carrying more belly fat than you would like. Read more about causes of belly fat.
If figuring out what to put into your body is too overwhelming, start with how much you're serving yourself. The easiest way to do this? Swap out your plates for smaller ones, like mother of two Jeanenne Darden did. With the help of this trick, she managed to lose an amazing 22 percent of her body weight, going from 187 pounds to 146 pounds. "I ate normally," she says. "I just ate less of everything." Pro tip: This trick is even easier with some cute portion-control dishware.
For breakfast, for example, dress up your oatmeal with berries, leave off the butter and margarine, and maybe even increase the amount of water you use to cook it. Yet another strategy not used in this study but validated in others would be to replace calorie-dense brown sugar or maple syrup with Splenda or sugar-free maple syrup, which would further reduce the calorie density of this breakfast entrée.
But even if that type of workout isn’t to your liking, it’s key to find some kind of workout you enjoy and that you want to do regularly. I highly recommend weightlifting for fat loss because it’s a proven way to create more muscle; more muscle means your body will burn more calories (increasing your metabolic rate), and those calories will funnel into your muscle stores rather than your fat cells.
This popular diet program is fairly restrictive — and for the first 30 days, dieters must cut out grains, legumes, most dairy, added sugar, and alcohol without any slip-ups, according to the Whole30 website. (29) The aim is to “reset” your body and to adopt dietary habits resulting in weight loss. Cutting out added sugar and alcohol has merit, but all the restrictions prove challenging and could lead to nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating.
Research has shown that regulating your sleep scheduled and ensuring that you get more than 5-6 hours per night of sleep can help you reduce your visceral fat stores. However, if you turn around and sleep in two days a week (Saturday and Sunday?), it can add to your visceral fat. According to the Oxford Academic’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, there is a strong independent association between sleep apnea, visceral obesity, insulin resistance, and hypercytokinemia, that may further lead to health complications. Essentially, make a firm sleep schedule, but don’t let your body get too lazy on your days off. Regularity in your Circadian rhythms and metabolic cycles will be helpful for keeping belly fat in check.
Standing up, hold a medicine ball in both hands. Reaching the ball up overhead, extend your body as you reach your arms overhead. Then, slam the ball down as hard as you can, hinging over and sitting your butt back as you slam, following through with your arms. As you hinge over, bend your knees. Place your hands on the ground and jump back into a high plank position, keep your body in a straight line. Jump feet back in towards the hands so that you are squatting. Pick up the ball and reach overhead, extending your body and standing tall. Repeat.
Engaging in cardiovascular exercise more 250 minutes a week can lead to significant weight loss, reports the American College of Sports Medicine. In 2013, the journal Plos One published a review of research -- which asserted that even without major dietary changes -- engaging in moderate or high intensity aerobic training can reduce visceral fat in overweight men and women after 12 weeks. This doesn't mean that you can get away with not changing your diet -- this result demonstrates the power of physical activity.
Research shows this intensity combo also makes you faster. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that when cyclists performed six weeks of 80/20-style training, they more than doubled their power and performance gains, such as lactate threshold, compared to when they spent more time in moderate training zones.
Could you go for some guac right now? You're in luck. A recent review found that avocado eating can help improve markers (like a large waistline and increased blood pressure and high blood sugar) associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors which increases your odds of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Avocados contain healthy fats, as well as other nutrients, like magnesium and phytosterols, that may help improve blood lipid profiles and blood pressure. An earlier study in 2013 suggested that avocado lovers slash their likelihood of metabolic syndrome in half.
●Halt bad eating habits. Before you cave to the crave, hit the pause button, recommends Pamela Peeke, author of the bestseller “The Hunger Fix: The Three Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction.” Ask yourself: “Am I hungry? Angry? Anxious? Lonely? Tired?” Get in touch with your emotions and ask, “Am I’m emotional right now? Am I about to knee-jerk into overeating?”
Think cooking healthy meals is difficult and time-consuming? Think again. Annie Allen, a postsurgical nurse in Tampa Bay, Florida, let her freezer do half the work for her—and now she's down 52 pounds and runs about 10 races a year. "Frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh ones, and in minutes you have half of your meal prepared," she says. These frozen meals are also surprisingly healthy if you don't have time to mix and match one of your own.
Eliminating any food group strictly for weight loss is not a healthy diet approach—and it doesn’t work for long term weight loss. Research shows that food deprivation and restriction consistently increases food intake, which could lead to weight gain. More importantly, restricting food groups also inadvertently limits vitamins and nutrients. For example, dairy products are a top source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Most people find that low-anything diets are hard to sustain over time because they often require a lot of cooking or buying specialty food items—and a diet certainly won’t work if you don’t follow it. Caroline Apovian, MD, director of nutrition and weight management at Boston Medical Center, adds that any diet could help you lose weight—the mistake is thinking you can indefinitely stay on a diet that eliminates one food group. “The only diet you can truly stay on forever is the Mediterranean or DASH diets,” she says.
This study affirms, as many have before, that we can in fact cut calories and, at the same time, eat till we’re full and satisfied when we reduce the calorie density of the foods we eat. The research found that all three strategies to reduce calorie density led to a spontaneous reduction in ad libitum calorie intake, but the reductions in calorie intake were significantly greater with fat reduction.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.