How to Lose Belly Fat
One area of the body that most people, both men and women, find entirely unattractive on their own bodies is their belly. Having a flat stomach or a “six pack abs” is the dream of most adults. It is something that adults who are heading for a beach vacation strive to achieve in the months prior to leaving. Those of us who are not satisfied with our stomachs love the winter months where sweatshirts and sweaters can hide our spare tire.
Here is the good news. Losing that spare tire IS possible. The best part about it is that there is no secret formula, no magic bullet, and no special diet plan and no specific food that especially targets belly fat. And the better news is that belly fat is usually the first fat that is lost when you start to lose weight.
Recent research has linked fat around the abdomen with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. More specifically, it is not the fat that you can grab that poses the highest health risk but rather the deepest layer of fat which produces hormones and other substances that negatively affects your health. This fat is located next to and in between other organs in the abdominal cavity.
Want to know if you are setting the stage for type 2 diabetes in your own life? Take a tape measure and measure around your waist at the level of your bellybutton. A measurement that is greater than 35 inches in the women and 40 inches in men is considered unhealthy.
Until most recently the body mass index, a measurement of weight in relationship to height, has been used as a key factor in determining whether or not a person is at risk for diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. However this measurement can be misleading.
The problem is that body mass index relies on total weight and does not take into account muscle mass or fat deposits. And, because muscle is denser and weighs more than fat, two individuals who weigh the same and are the same height can have the same body mass index but one will have a significantly higher percentage of body fat.
If most of the fat is in the abdominal area your health risks are greater than if it is in the hips, thighs or rear end. Researchers have discovered that belly fat is metabolically active and can increase the risk of colon cancer by raising certain hormones that affect cell growth. Today, scientists and physicians use a waist to hip ratio which is a measurement of waist size divided by hip size as a more reliable gauge of risk factors. A ratio above 0.85 for women or 0.90 for men is higher than average and typically indicates a greater risk.
The way to get your ratio is to use a tape measure to measure the distance around your waist at your belly button and around your hips at the widest part. If your waist is 28 inches and your hips are 38 inches the equation would look like: 28/38 = .73. This falls below the 0.85 for women.
The question now becomes how do you get rid of this belly fat, whether it is the kind you see or the kind you don’t? One of the primary ways is to begin to lose overall weight because belly fat is one of the first places that most individuals lose weight. Weight loss is an equation between calories burned and calories eaten. When we eat more calories than we burn we gain weight and when we burn more calories than we eat we lose weight.
When you are already on a negative calorie intake (burning more than you are eating) studies show that a diet with a higher ratio of monounsaturated fats contained in avocados, nuts, seeds and chocolate, can prevent the accumulation of body fat. It is not likely that someone eating a high calorie diet and eating these monounsaturated fats will lose belly fat but those who are eating a low calorie diet and eating these types of foods will not gain belly fat.
Trans fats, such as in margarines, crackers and cookies, will also result in the addition of more belly fat deposited so they should be avoided as much as possible. Soluble fiber such as in apples and oats will lower belly fat levels that can reduce the presence of cortisol and thus reduce the amount of belly fat.
The way that fat is distributed on the body is often genetically programmed or a result of a life events, such as menopause. What is within our control is the level of overall fat. So when we keep that amount low it does not really matter where it goes because there isn’t much to begin with.
Unfortunately, spot reduction is not really possible. So while some fad diets promise that if you eat a certain type of food every day you will lose the fat in your belly, this just is not the case. What is happening is that with a reduced calorie diet you will lose fat over your abdomen faster and first than you do anywhere else. By increasing the amount of exercise you receive and doing core muscle exercises you will not only reduce belly fat and you will now begin to see the fruits of your labor as your muscle tone improves and those six pack abs begin to emerge.
MayoClinic: Belly Fat in Men: Why Weight Loss matters
MedlinePlus: Belly Fat May Hit Your Heart the Hardest
Washington University: Belly Fat May Drive Inflammatory Processes Associated with Disease
University of Michigan: Missing Link Between Belly Fat and Heart Disease
Harvard Health Publications: Belly Fat and What to Do About it