Belly fat…. We’ve all got it.
Even people with slender frames have some. Of all the concerns people share with me about their bodies, belly fat is consistently number one! Aside from the self-consciousness it brings us, belly fat also comes with a host of risks for our health.
Body fat comes in two forms: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is the layer that we are all aware of, the visible one. We see dimples, skin that looks puffy, and even cellulite. Visceral fat is found much deeper, around the organs (like the liver, pancreas, and intestines). It has been linked to many diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. There are even links shown to breast cancer, Dementia, other metabolic syndromes. That’s not to say that everyone who has visceral belly fat will present with one of these conditions, but it certainly puts us at a higher risk.
Doctors discuss concerns often times when a woman’s waist circumference is greater than 35” and a man’s is greater than 40” (age also plays a role in that measurement). So when we think of our waistline, we should be focusing on the health implications as well, not only the physical appearance.
So, what do we do about it? Keep reading to find out…..
1. Get more sleep. We spend so much time saying how tired we are, but we do little to correct the fact that we aren’t sleeping enough. So yes, lack of sleep has a negative impact on our health and our body’s fat burning potential. Exhaustion increases cortisol levels; increased cortisol levels can bring the body to fat storing mode. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep (if possible) per night. Turn off electronics about an hour before bed. Have a nighttime routine that prepares you for a restful night. Read a book. Take a long shower. Drink some tea.
2. Try to reduce stress. I know, I know. If we could all get rid of stress easily, we’d do it. I get it. Stress is a part of life. We all have it. However, how we deal with it makes all the difference. Stress is another trigger for increased cortisol levels. If we want to keep fat storing at bay, then we need to control the things that activate it. Try something new, meditate, make a craft, listen to a podcast, take a long bath, call a friend….anything that helps you feel more at ease.
3. Eat foods that reduce bloating/inflammation. Try to eat protein with every meal. Be sure to have fiber at your meals as well: veggies and fruit provide a great deal of fiber. Include healthy fats in your diet like avocado and olive or coconut oil. And add in some starches as well. Yes, despite all the carb shaming we hear about, you need carbs for energy and they should be incorporated even if you’d like to shed inches. Go for options like whole grain or sprouted breads, rice, and potatoes. Try to limit sweets, fast food, chips, and foods that make you feel bloated (for some people even dairy is a trigger for inflammation).
4. Drink lots of water. There is no magic number of ounces that everyone should drink. I’ve been told that you should drink a gallon of water a day. But that baffles me. How can my husband and I be required to have the same amount of fluid intake if we have a 60lb weight difference? Doesn’t make sense. I recommend drinking generally ½ your body weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 lbs., then you should drink about 75 ounces of water.
5. Go for long walks. Leisure walks benefit your body in multiple ways: decrease stress, lower cortisol levels, increase cardiovascular health, and aid in building a leaner physique. If you get outside, you also get the benefits of enjoying nature and getting a little extra vitamin D😊
6. Start using weights. Want to lean out? Look more fit? Reduce that belly fat? You need some weights in your life! It is a common belief that sit-ups and crunches will help target the belly. But the truth is, your body will not burn fat from just one area. Yes, sit-ups and crunches can make your stomach muscles stronger, but they won’t be able to target fat loss in the abdomen for you. Lift weights, do full body exercises, and focus on getting your heart rate up with high intensity intervals at least three times per week. Your body will begin to burn fat all over, and you’ll see those inches start to come off of your waistline.
Bottom line: If you want lose belly fat, you have to focus on burning fat throughout your whole body.
You also have to make some habit changes, over a period of time. Don’t try to do it all at once. Prioritize one goal at a time: consistent sleep, leisure walks, food, stress, exercise, and water intake. Be patient. Focus on the positive. Your change won’t happen overnight, but it will definitely last! And just think, while you’re decreasing your belly fat, you’re also reducing your risk of some very serious diseases. Seems like a win all around.
Keep it burnin',