Be choosy about carbs. You can decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. They may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.
There are two types of fat: the subcutaneous, or “pinchable,” kind that collects just under the skin—and, unless you’re obese, poses no health threat—and visceral fat, which develops deep inside the abdomen. “Visceral fat appears to be metabolically more active than fat that settles elsewhere,” says Pamela Peeke, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fit to Live: The 5-Point Plan to Be Lean, Strong, & Fearless for Life (Rodale Books, 2007). This visceral fat—belly fat, in plain English—interferes with liver function. In particular, it hampers the processing of cholesterol and insulin—and may also compromise the function of other tissues and systems. In December a study conducted at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam found links between belly fat and capillary inflammation (a contributor to heart disease) and between belly fat and insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes).
The same holds true for those looking for exercises to get rid of belly fat. There are intensities, muscle groups, fiber types and hormonal states to consider. It’s no longer enough to say “running for weight loss” or “ab-crunching” to define the area. If only it was as easy as including an exercise or a food and change everything. If that was the case, there would not be an epidemic of obesity to deal with. The reality is different!
Standing tall with feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands. Reach both arms overhead, fully extending your body and standing tall. Slam the ball forward and down toward the ground, hinging over as you do. Extend your arms toward the ground as you slam and don’t be afraid to bend your knees as you hinge over. Squat to pick the ball up and stand up.
Blood vessels (veh-suls): The system of flexible tubes—arteries, capillaries and veins—that carries blood through the body. Oxygen and nutrients are delivered by arteries to tiny, thin-walled capillaries that feed them to cells and pick up waste material, including carbon dioxide. Capillaries pass the waste to veins, which take the blood back to the heart and lungs, where carbon dioxide is let out through your breath as you exhale.
And maybe a new mattress, because it’s not just the amount of time you spend sleeping that keeps you lean, it’s also the quality of your sleep. Fat cells in your body produce a hormone called leptin that helps the body keep track of how much potential energy (i.e. fat) it has stored. But leptin is only produced during certain stages of sleep. Miss out on those stages because you’re not resting soundly enough, and you’ll disturb levels of the hormone, leaving your body with no real idea of its energy reserves. Consequently, you’ll end up storing calories rather than burning them.
Visceral fat, commonly known as belly fat, is the layer of fat below the muscles of your abdomen. Due to its crucial location surrounding many of your vital organs, belly fat supplies a constant source of energy but also exposes the body to harmful toxins and hormones. When you have too many fat cells or your fat cells get too large, they can overproduce toxins that increase your risk for chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is why belly fat can be more dangerous than subcutaneous fat—or the outer layer of fat that you can pinch with your fingers. That said, the reason you're having trouble buttoning your pants may not be visceral fat: what we're calling "belly fat" these days could be bloating or water retention rather than a fat buildup. Read on for steps you can take to beat the bulge.
Trim Portions. If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by 10%-20%, you would lose weight. Most of the portions served both in restaurants and at home are bigger than you need. Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes, and work on paring them down. Get instant portion control by using small bowls, plates, and cups, says Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Mindless Eating. You won't feel deprived because the food will look plentiful on dainty dishware.