Belly fat is different than fat elsewhere on the body. It includes both subcutaneous fat, which is located just under the skin, and visceral fat. Visceral fat is close to your internal organs and can lead to significant health problems, such as:
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Respiratory problems
Some studies even link belly fat to dementia in adults 60 or older. If you have a small potbelly, or notice that you’re developing one, you don’t need to panic – simply make lifestyle changes and you’ll lose the unwanted flab.
Men gain more weight in their bellies because the stomach is their “storage space” for excess weight. When the stomach can’t hold anymore fat, fat must be stored in the pancreas, liver and muscles. It is this fat “spillover” that leads to heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Women can store fat in their legs and hips as well as the stomach due to their estrogen capacity. Fat stored in these areas doesn’t translate to heart disease or other chronic conditions as easily as fat in the belly. Once women go through menopause, they have less estrogen, and may develop belly fat just like men.
Unless you’re an athlete or genetically blessed, it can be hard to avoid developing belly fat as you age. Even some young people who work sedentary jobs may have a problem with paunch around the midsection. It’s easy to get belly fat, but challenging to lose it. Here are some ways you can lose fat in your midriff.
Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. It is a steroid hormone that helps your body deal with dangerous situations and engage in a fight-or flight response. If you are under stress for a long time, your belly retains more fat. Even if you eat healthy, you’ll notice an increase in belly fat. If you overeat or have a sedentary job, the visceral fat (another name for belly fat) will be even more noticeable.
Belly fat may lead to earlier death, even if you don’t have excess fat elsewhere on your body. Even when women had an average body mass index (BMI), belly fat increased the chance of dying from heart-related conditions.
Red meat, dairy and fried foods have lots of trans fats and little fiber and can boost the inflammation caused by stress. A diet high in processed snack foods and fatty foods will cause your belly to increase even more if you’re under stress. Even if you eat right, though, too much stress can cause you to develop belly fat.
Controlling stress will reduce the desire to overeat, control cortisol production and help you focus more efficiently on everyday activities.
Learn how to meditate, and do it everyday, even if you only have a few minutes to spare. Meditation minimizes stress by forcing you to take your mind off your problems. It changes your brain state from the alert state you have most of the day to a calming Alpha state, to the deeper Theta state of awareness.
Avoid or reduce your exposure to toxic, angry people, or learn new methods to deal with them.
Eat More Protein
Consuming more protein helps reduce food cravings. It also increases energy and may prevent you from eating fewer calories every day. If you eat more high-quality protein you will reduce your chance of gaining belly fat over a five-year period. Foods that provide high-quality protein include legumes, nuts, eggs, fish, lean red meat, and yogurt. For protein consumption to make a difference, it should consist of 25% to 30% of your daily calorie intake.
If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, there are many whey protein supplements you can purchase to get the required protein, or you can take a wheatgrass supplement. Wheatgrass contains amino acids, which help create protein in your body.
Vegans and vegetarians can also increase their protein intake by eating lentils, soy-based tofu, edamame and tempeh, green peas, oatmeal or nuts. (Many protein drinks are made from these sources.)
Add Soluble Fiber to Your Diet
Eating foods with soluble fiber helps you lose weight in your belly (and elsewhere) by making you feel full so you eat less. It also reduces the calories you absorb from the food you eat.
Soluble fiber foods include lentils, peas, barley, blackberries, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes pears, apples and broccoli. Instead of snacking on candy or chips, mix some flax seeds and sunflower seeds with blackberries and yogurt for a low-calorie snack that’s rich in soluble fiber and protein.
Research showed that belly fat decreases by 3.7% for every ten grams of soluble fiber you eat over a five- year period.
Keep Alcohol Consumption to a Minimum
You can still have a glass of wine with dinner, but hard liquor and beer are verboten if you want a flatter stomach. A study of people who drank infrequently but consumed more than a drink a day showed that they had more belly fat than people who drank alcohol daily, but averaged less than a full drink per day.
For best results, give up alcohol completely or have a glass of wine a day
Mindfulness meditation or simply being mindful (living in the moment) will relieve much of the stress than comes from worry. When you live in the present moment, you are more aware of your thoughts and don’t have “knee-jerk” reactions to what people say and do. Reacting without thinking things through often makes a stressful situation worse.
By living mindfully, you are more in tune with your body, and you’ll notice aches and pains sooner. You will also be more aware of carrying excess weight, and you can start changing your routine to rectify it before it gets out of control.
The structure in your brain called the amygdala works overtime and triggers your fight or flight response when you’re under stress. Mindfulness gives this part of your brain a rest and you’ll remain calmer.
Keep a journal, and write down your stress triggers. Think of ways to avoid your triggers, or at least develop techniques for reducing the anxiety they cause.
Exercise and Get More Physical Activity Every Day
Aerobic exercise helps you lose weight, including belly fat, reduce stress, and protect you against heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. If you’re not used to exercising, walk outside ten to twenty minutes a day, and then start adding more activity.
If you consistently exceed your daily calorie limit and don’t exercise, you’ll be overweight, and much of that weight will settle in your midsection. You lose muscle mass as you get older, and this makes it harder to stay at a reasonable weight. As people age, the hormones in their bodies change,and this makes it more likely that they will carry weight in their bellies. You may also be more likely to have a “pear-shaped” body due to genetics.
Engage in moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, for 150 minutes a week or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week. You should take 10,000 steps a day to prevent weight gain or 15,000 steps a day to stop future weight gain after you’ve lost belly fat.
Walking around the house or office counts as part of your step total for the day, but you still need to exercise outside, at the health club, or in your DIY gym. Use your SmartPhone or a FitBit to help count steps.
You can lose up to two pounds a week safely, but don’t get discouraged if it takes a month or more to see results. It’s better to lose weight slowly tan to go on a starvation diet, only to put the weight back on a few weeks later.
A plastic stepper is an inexpensive, portable piece of exercise equipment that you can use anywhere. It’s a piece of plastic, and you step on it and back down again, like you’re walking up or down stairs.
Spot exercises, such as abdominal lifts and stomach crunches, won’t get rid of belly fat unless you use them in tandem with aerobic exercise and a 10,000 steps a day minimum. You can’t spot reduce from just one area of your body by using specific exercises.
Strength or resistance training is important to preserve muscle mass. It may also be important for losing visceral fat. Research showed that combining weight lifting and aerobics helped overweight teens lose belly fat.
Start a resistance program by lifting two, three or five pound hand weights. Talk to your trainer if you want to move on to lifting heavier dumbbells.
Get Enough Sleep
People who don’t get at least seven hours of sleep a night are more likely to gain weight and put themselves at risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. If you have excess belly fat, you may develop sleep apnea (a condition that causes your breathing to stop intermittently at night).
Seven hours lying in bed won’t do you any good if you spend four hours tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. Restful, high-quality sleep should be your goal. Don’t eat, drink or use electronics for at least an hour before you go to bed, preferably longer.
A study involving 68,000 women showed that participants who slept less than five hours a night over the study’s 16 year span were at a greater risk of being overweight than those who got at least seven hours of shuteye.
Choose Healthy Foods
Every few years, a new fad diet becomes the talk of the internet. There’s the ketogenic diet, the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet, and so on. While these diets may certainly work for some people, they may be a disaster for others.
It’s best to stick with whole, fresh foods, like fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains.
You don’t need to become a vegan or vegetarian to lose weight. Salmon, sardines and other fatty fish are low in calories and provide heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.
Eat organic beef and poultry, and avoid adding heavy sauces to main dishes. Bake, steam, grill, poach or broil meat and fish instead of frying. It will cut down on calories and grease and leave you with a cleaner kitchen. You can try cooking food with about two tablespoons of coconut oil, which may reduce belly fat.
Cut out sugary soda and diet soda. Studies have shown that even no-to low calorie diet soda may cause weight gain. Research indicated that occasional diet soda drinkers gained 1.8 inches during the study period, but daily drinkers gained 3.2 inches during the same time.
Refined carbohydrates, like white bread, snack crackers and (obviously) doughnuts will produce more belly fat, as will oily, greasy foods. Replace processed food and fast food with fruits, veggies and whole grains. Snack on nuts, raisins and pumpkin or sesame seeds if you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
You can’t stop your mid-section from getting fat without a combination of a healthy diet, stress reduction and proper exercise. Changing your diet and getting more physical activity will probably be a lot easier for most people than reducing stress. However, you should dedicate as much time to reducing stress as you do to diet and exercise if you want to reduce belly fat.
Wheatgrass Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight
Wheatgrass is one of nature’s most nutritious foods, and though you can’t cook it or eat it like other greens, you can take it in supplement form. Wheatgrass Love’s Zeal O2 is a wheatgrass-infused supplement that helps you burn fat and suppress your appetite naturally. It contains pure wheatgrass and a carefully selected blend of other nutrients to improve your health and give you more energy while you lose weight, including belly fat.
Wheatgrass has chlorophyll as its nutritional base. Chlorophyll has all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay strong and healthy, plus amino acids and over 300 enzymes. The nutrients in wheatgrass include Vitamins A,C,E,K and B-complex, along with zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, and everything you need to stay healthy. The herbal blend contains Fo-Ti, Ginger, Sarsaparilla, Cayenne Pepper and a dozen more fat-burning natural ingredients. Read more about Zeal O2 here.