You may think getting flat abs and slimming down that belly fat is about appearance and how you’ll look when bikini season rolls around, but there are more important reasons for losing belly fat. This kind of fat is visceral fat which means it wraps around organs unlike subcutaneous fat that is just under the skin. Visceral fat can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance and even some types of cancer. This is particularly a problem for women after menopause according to Michael Jensen, MD, professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division. The hormone changes that occur during menopause affect metabolism and lead to belly fat. While storing fat can be related to age and genetics there are still things you can do to get those flat abs and in losing belly fat.
Exercises For Losing Belly Fat
Getting flat abs requires exercise. Whereas all exercise has health benefits, there are certain types of exercise that work better than others for losing belly fat. According to Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic and other experts, since muscle uses up more calories than fat does, strength training exercises are good for preparing your body to burn off fat. You may think exercises like sit-ups that work your abs are good for losing belly fat, but that isn’t necessarily so. These type exercises are good weight loss exercises but they don’t specifically target belly fat. Aerobic exercises on the other hand are good weight loss exercises that fight belly fat. According to a study at Duke University, aerobic exercise burns off 67% more calories than resistance training does. This would include running, swimming and bicycling. Here are some specific exercises for losing belly fat offered by experts.
- Risa Sheppard, creator of The Sheppard Method, offers an exercise where you lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor with hips level, shoulders back and down. Then inhale as your arms are facing up towards the sky in line with shoulders and exhale while moving arms to the floor while counting to six. Once arms are at your sides, do another count of six while moving them back to the starting position.
- Zip Up: This pilates exercise requires you to stand heels together with toes turned a bit outwards. Then holding hands together, raise arms up to under your chin. Exhale as you move arms downwards and raise up on tiptoes. Hold this position for two seconds, then inhale and return to the starting position.
- Windshield Wiper: This exercise starts you out lying on the floor with your arms palm down out from your sides, shoulders on the floor and legs bent 90 degrees. Keeping legs bent and together, slowly move legs to the left and towards the floor as far as you can while shoulders stay back. Hold and then move back to the starting positions and do the same move to the right.
Nutrition For Losing Belly Fat
Eating a diet of lean protein, vegetables, low fat dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fruits give you antioxidants that according to Cleveland Clinic registered dietitian Kate Patton and other nutrition experts, help keep belly fat away. Fiber in your diet, from fruit, vegetables, beans and grain sources can help reduce belly fat by 4% for every 10 grams you eat. Just as important as what you do eat to help in losing belly fat is what you don’t eat. In working towards flat abs, avoid foods with refined grains, refined sugars, processed foods, and trans fats. In fact, Wake Forest University research has shown that not only do trans fats increase belly fat, but they also move fat from other places in the body to the belly. Reducing calories also helps in weight loss. Pennsylvania State University researchers report that starting off a meal with a low-cal soup can cut down the amount of calories you consume by 20%. Starting off a meal with a salad with a low-cal dressing can also help cut down the amount you eat at a meal. Add half of a grapefruit to your meal and the acidity will slow digestion down making you feel full for a longer amount of time and give you 64% of the vitamin C recommended daily.
Don’t forget to look too at what you are drinking in addition to what you are eating. The American Heart Association reports that soda and other sugar filled drinks are the biggest source of added sugar in our diets. These type of drinks really pack on the calories and lead to extra weight gain. Water is of course the best alternative for staying hydrated and quenching thirst without adding calories, but if you need something with a little more flavor, opt for adding in herbs or fruits to your water. Avoid commercial made flavored waters though as many of them have sugar and chemicals. Green tea is another low-cal drink alternative and a study in the Journal of Nutrition reports the catechins found in it helps burn more calories for losing belly fat.
Improve Digestion for Losing Belly Fat
When we don’t get enough enzymes from food sources, the food we eat literally rots in our guts, adding to weight gain and the appearance of a beer belly. Enzymes are necessary to aid digestion by metabolizing fat, proteins and carbohydrates and to be absorbed into the blood to clean long-term residual food particles. Because so many of our foods are cooked, genetically engineered or poisoned with pesticides and fertilizers, it’s essential to add enzymes to our diet. Adding probiotics, such as acidophilus, bifidus, or a full-spectrum probiotic, to the diet work along with digestive enzymes helps your body process and digest the foods you eat, moving them through the digestive system so that they don’t become stuck there. A great way to get your enzymes, probiotics and the extra nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae and 8 other algae types, antioxidants from sprouts, and the anti-inflammatory power of 5 medicinal mushrooms is with this whole food supplement program with packets of all these important components.
Even if you haven’t had success with losing belly fat in the past, don’t give up. Take a look at your weight loss strategies and find changes you can make that will specifically target that hard to lose belly fat. Flat abs aren’t just about looking good. Your health depends on it. Make the commitment to give some of these natural tips a try and work them into your weight loss plan along with any other strategies you are already using that are working for you. Just that little bit of extra effort could make all the difference.
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