If you were to ask most men and women where they most want to lose fat from their body, you’ll likely hear them say the BELLY. Belly fat can be the hardest to lose, hence the term stubborn belly fat, as it seemingly likes to stick around for as long as it possibly can in the weight-loss journey.
Aim to include protein, healthy fats and complex carbs at each meal to satisfy your appetite and nutritional needs.
However, belly fat is not just a nuisance, rather it poses real serious health consequences. Beyond the superficial fat you can pinch, visceral fat, the fat that surrounds the deep organs in your abdomen that cannot be pinched, increases your risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Aim to safely lose all belly fat with the following tips and tricks to incorporate into your daily routine for life!
1. EAT THREE BALANCED MEALS A DAY
Skipping meals is not the way to lose belly fat! Although you may think that eating fewer meals will shrink your caloric intake and waistline, it actually sets you up for failure. Most meal-skippers end up binging on foods later in the day, possibly doubling their intake. Eating balanced meals will also decrease your snacking intake.
Eating too many snacks can cause unnecessary calorie intake and habitual eating when you’re not even hungry leading to increased belly fat. Aim to include protein, healthy fats and complex carbs at each meal to satisfy your appetite and nutritional needs. Enjoy eggs with a slice of whole-grain toast for breakfast, chicken salad with avocado for lunch and roasted asparagus with salmon for dinner.
2. DO MORE LONG & STEADY EXERCISE
High-intensity interval training has been applauded in recent years for its fitness and weight-loss benefits. Advocates say that you can work out in half the time and burn more calories by adding in bursts of high-intensity, hard-effort intervals into your workout. However, a study in Obesity suggest otherwise as study participants who incorporated intervals into 24 minutes of cycling actually gained weight, 0.7 percent over a 3-month period! In contrast, participants who cycled a continuous, moderate 45 minutes decreased abdominal fat by over 3 percent (1).
3. DRINK GREEN TEA, LESS COFFEE
Green tea contains catechins which act to increase metabolism, revving up fat-burning engines to increase fat-loss from the belly. In contrast, coffee can have a negative effect on weight-loss efforts; it’s believed to increase cortisol production, a stress hormone in the body, which elevates insulin levels and leads to weight gain. Cut back on coffee by switching to decaf and swapping out one cup a day with green tea. If you find green tea too bland, try steaming some almond milk and making a green tea latte for a healthy and warming afternoon treat.
4. DITCH REFINED GRAINS
Refined grains including white breads, rice and pasta increase insulin levels leading to belly fat gain; however whole-grain foods contain fiber which take longer to digest in the body possibly blunting the effect of rising blood sugar levels. Choose whole-grain rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and oatmeal for a slimmer midline instead of packaged white crackers and cookies. Pair carbs with protein and healthy fats to satisfy your appetite and keep blood sugar levels stable. Try stirring a tablespoon of almond butter into your morning oatmeal; pairing cheese with whole-grain crackers and tuna with brown rice.
5. COOK WITH COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil may have gotten a bad rap in the past for being a saturated fat; however research now reveals that that may not be a bad thing. Unlike most saturated fats, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides versus long-chain, which doesn’t raise cholesterol levels as high. A study of 30 men in the journal Pharmacology revealed that consuming two tablespoons of virgin coconut oil per day led to a weight-loss of just over 1 inch from waistlines in a month (2).
6. SKIP THE SODA
Eliminating diet soda from your daily diet can make a huge impact on belly-fat loss. Diet sodas are filled with artificial sweeteners which have been linked to glucose intolerance, sugar cravings and a subsequent increase in belly fat. A 2009 study in Diabetes Care suggested that daily consumption of diet soda was linked to increased incidence of type 2 diabetes (3).
(1) Stephen H. Boutcher. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat-Loss. Journal of Obesity; 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639
(2) Kai Ming Liau et al. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Virgin Coconut Oil in Reducing Visceral Adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology. 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226242/
(3) Jennifer A. Nettleton, PHD et al. Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Diabetes Care; 2009.