Losing Belly Fat: A Few Hard Truths
From diet pills to detox teas all claiming to help us burn belly fat, there are countless solutions on the internet that claim to help us remove that frustrating layer of fat hiding our elusive six-pack. But, the truth is that there is no quick fix, no diet pill or exercise that will specifically target your stomach fat. With that being said, however, you can get rid of belly fat as long as you know how fat works.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to start burning off your belly fat and getting it to stay off for good.
What Science Has to Say About Belly Fat
Let’s get this out of the way first: Fat is essential for our survival. We don’t function without fat. Fat insulates us from cold and protects our organs. So we all need a little bit of belly fat.
That being said, some of us tend to store more fat around our mid-sections that others due to genetics. Women also tend to have 6 to 11 percent more body fat than men, and they generally store fat around the hips and thighs. Men, however, tend to store more fat around the belly.
Because of women’s higher levels of estrogen, it’s harder for women to burn fat compared to men. But that’s because women need more fat to prepare for pregnancy and it’s not something we should be worried about.
The kind of fat that both men and women need to worry about, however, is the extra fat accumulated around our bellies, especially if the fat is of the visceral variety (the kind that surrounds our organs). This is because visceral belly fat is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Poll: Getting a Flat Stomach
What are you doing now to burn off your stomach fat?
3 Myths on Reducing Belly Fat Debunked
If you’re trying to burn belly fat, whether it’s to look good on the beach or just to improve your health, here a few things that many of us are doing that just don’t work.
1. Sit-Ups Reduce Belly Fat
Unfortunately, if your muscles are covered by a layer of fat, you won’t see abs no matter how many sit-up or crunches you do. Those exercises will only strengthen your muscles and can help you look more toned, but they won’t burn the fat sitting on top of your stomach muscles. Spot reducing doesn’t work. If you want to get rid of belly fat, you have to make your body burn fat everywhere.
2. You Must Follow One Special Diet
Just like trying to spot reduce with crunches, no diet can target stomach fat specifically even though some diets may make you feel like you’re getting a flatter stomach. Low carb diets, for example, may appear to make your stomach smaller, but that could be due to a loss of water retention because you’re eating fewer carbs or it could just be because you’re storing most of your fat in the abdominal area, so you’re noticing a change there first. All diets mainly do the same thing: reduce your caloric intake, which will force your body to burn off what it has in storage.
3. You Have to Do High-Intensity Workouts
There is some truth to this since some intense workout will burn more fat than others, but high-intensity workouts are not required to burn fat. Studies have shown that just walking for 2.5 hours a week will help reduce belly fat. Another study of overweight women found that just walking between 30 to 55 minutes three days a week decreased the size of their stomach fat cells by 20 percent.
How to Lose Belly Fat For Good
You don't need any fancy pills, diet plans, or detox teas to burn fat. Just follow a few simple, very basic steps to re-balance your body. Here's all you need to do to start losing that belly flab.
1. Adjust Your Diet
The key to a slim stomach is as simple as eating a balanced, healthy diet. There is no crash diet, no particular way of eating that will make the belly fat melt away faster. Avoid foods with a high glycemic index like white bread, sugary foods, and other empty carbs that will cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar. When your blood sugar spikes, your body will produce more insulin and trigger cortisol to be released. Both cortisol and insulin with then work together to encourage fat storage.
Instead, try to eat more fruits and foods high in catechins, which is a fat burning antioxidant contained in green tea, dark chocolate, berries, and apples.
2. DO Weight Train
In a study published in the 2014 Journal of Sports Sciences found that aerobic training combined with weight training was more effective at reducing visceral and fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat). If you’re female and worried that lifting heavy weights will make you look “bulky” or too manly, don’t worry. Female bodies are not naturally designed to make large, “manly” muscles. By lifting heavy weights, you’ll gain more muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories passively than fat does, you’ll make it that much easier to burn away those extra calories you’re carrying around.
3. Prioritize Quality Sleep
Since stress makes your body release more cortisol, which is a hormone that cues your body to accumulate fat, you want to be as stress-free as possible. A significant part of maintaining a low-stress lifestyle is to get enough quality sleep. Adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to prevent an abnormally high level of cortisol release.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Lose Belly Fat
When you're working so hard to get the results you want, it can be disheartening when you're not seeing any changes. Here are a few mistakes you may be making that could derail your progress.
1. You’re Eating Too Much Sugar
Too much sugar will make your body go into fat-storing mode. The daily recommended amount of sugar for the average adult is about 25 - 30 grams of sugar a day. So given that just one can of Coca Cola has 11 grams of sugar make sure you choose your foods carefully. Stick to natural sugars like those that naturally occur in fruits. Low-fat foods tend to contain more added sugars than their full-fat counterparts, so make sure to read your labels when you grocery shop.
2. You’re Not Getting Enough Protein
Protein helps to build and maintain muscle tissue and can make your body burn more calories. It will also keep you fuller for longer, which will reduce cravings. Go for lean protein sources like fish, chicken breast, and beans. If you must snack, choose high protein snacks like nuts or low-sugar protein bars and shakes.
3. You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard
Your body needs balance so too much of anything, even if it’s good for you, will be detrimental to your body. So while it’s important to push yourself when you exercise, don’t forget to give your body time to recover between workouts. Pushing yourself too hard for too long will have the opposite effect. That’s because constant physical strain causes your body to release cortisol that prevents fat loss.
4. You’re Expecting Fast Results
It’s easy to want to see results when you’re working so hard, but be realistic. You didn’t gain weight overnight, so why would you expect to lose it in a week or two? Your brain is your biggest obstacle to sustained fat loss, so be patient, focus on building healthy habits, and stop looking in the mirror every day.
© 2018 KV Lo