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Health & Fitness: Belly Fat 101

KIM

By Kim Duke NETA & AFAA Certified Trainer

A new year is always an excellent time to make a fresh start. It’s during this time that we seem to stop and reflect on what was good about the past year and what was not so good. Typically, we make resolutions with very good intentions to change behaviors, diets and direction. It’s at this time of year that my studio fills up.

Most folks assess their weight and overall physical appearance due to the excesses that coincide with the holidays — and belly fat is a major area of concern.

Belly fat comes in two types: subcutaneous fat, which is the kind you can pinch, and visceral fat, which is located deep inside the abdomen. Visceral fat is more dangerous, since it can increase your risk for heart disease.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, the belly is not a stubborn fat zone. When you engage in moderate activities and cut calories, most of the fat you lose first will come from your belly.

Try this: Every day, aim to get 30 minutes of exercise, spend no more than six hours sitting down and keep a food journal so that you stay accountable to mindful eating.

Eat fiber. Whole grains help flush the digestive tract, leading to a flatter stomach. They also help you to feel more satisfied. Soluble fiber found in apples and oatmeal appears to be an especially effective fat fighter. For the most benefit, get 25-30 grams of fiber a day.

Calcium and vitamin D found in dairy products are also belly good. Increasing calcium suppresses calcitriol and lowers your fat tissue’s production of cortisol, the hormone known to increase visceral fat.

Eat you fruits and veggies. According to a University of Florida study, people who ate more from plant-based foods were slimmer.

Enjoy healthy fats. Not all fat makes you fat. In fact, monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some nuts and oils help you to stay lean.

Burn fat. Ab exercises tone, but you need cardio to torch the fat that’s hiding in your abs. Try alternating the intensity. Commonly known as interval training, this method of training is really effective and actually fun.

Get your zzz’s. People who slept less than five hours a night gained more belly fat than those who got more than six hours, according to a Wake Forest University study.

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