What Is Belly Fat And How To Lose It Naturally
Last updated on : March 26 2020
What Is Belly Fat And Is It Dangerous
Belly fat is the excess fat that surrounds the organs of your stomach (visceral fat) and the fat accumulated just under the skin in the region of the abdomen (subcutaneous fat).
Less harmful belly fat is subcutaneous fat, which may even protect against some diseases. Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly type of fat you can feel or see just under your skin.
Another type of belly fat, visceral fat is located beneath the muscles in your stomach and poses many dangers to your health. In particular, it can increase insulin resistance even if you've never had diabetes or prediabetes. It also contributes to other long term and life-threatening medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and Alzheimer's.
Fortunately, visceral belly fat is hugely receptive to exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes.
In this article, we tackle nine ways to lose belly fat naturally, including an exercise regime of at least 30 mins every day.
What Causes Belly Fat
Belly fat's primary causes are a poor diet, in particular, the consumption of junk food, excessive alcohol, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and a lack of sleep.
There is also some evidence that your genes can play a part in the accumulation of belly fat and obesity.
Understanding Your Levels Of Belly Fat
The only way to definitively diagnose belly fat is with a CT or MRI scan. However, these are expensive and time-consuming procedures.
Instead, medical practitioners use established guidelines to estimate the level of fat in your body.
Harvard Health determines 10 percent of all body fat is visceral fat. So to understand your level of visceral fat, estimate your total body fat and take 10 percent of it as your at-risk level of visceral fat.
However, the most straightforward way of understanding your risk is to measure your waist size. According to Harvard Women's Health Watch and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, you are at risk if you are a woman and your waist measures 35 inches or larger. Men are at risk when their waist measures 40 inches or larger.
If you fall into the above categories, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your health risks and what lifestyle changes would suit you best.
How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat Naturally
As we noted above, belly fat, in particular, visceral fat is receptive to positive changes in lifestyle, diet, and exercise. For each pound of weight you lose, a proportion will be visceral fat.
Below, we've put together nine steps you can easily take to get rid of belly fat. Adopt them all into new and healthy daily habits to maximize your weight loss and improve your health.
But remember to discuss any changes you make with your doctor or health care provider to ensure they do not pose an increased risk to you.
1. Avoid Sugar
One natural way to lose belly fat and reduce your risk of obesity is to eliminate or significantly reduce sugar from your diet.
The easiest way to do this is to stop consuming beverages like soda or juices, refrain from adding sugar to your coffee and tea, avoid sugary treats, sweetened cereals, and junk foods, and to eat whole fruits instead of juicing them.
Sugar contains glucose & fructose, and too much contributes to the storing of excess fat by your body. Overeating sugar leads to the accumulation of fat in the belly and the liver and affects your health.
So try to avoid sugar as much as you can, this simple step should see you losing belly fat more efficiently.
2. Eat More Protein
Studies show that eating more protein is a great long-term strategy to reduce belly fat. It's a good strategy because protein can reduce hunger cravings by up to 60 percent, help boost metabolism, and because it is filling, help you eat fewer calories per day.
Better Health provides valuable advice on good sources of healthy protein (lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and beans), and how much you should eat.
3. Get Enough Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is an excellent way to increase your metabolism and lose belly fat naturally.
Exercise has various health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and boosting metabolism, all of which helps to reduce abdominal fat. Regular aerobic exercise is ideal for shedding visceral belly fat, and numerous studies have proved this, even without dieting.
If you're new to exercising, start by walking for at least 20-30 minutes a day and look to increase the time accordingly.
Other aerobic exercises include running, swimming, or bike riding. However, regularly taking part in any sport or activity that increases your heart rate counts in playing a vital role in reducing belly fat. Add in resistance and strength training for long term benefits. .
4. Ensure You Sleep Enough
A recent study found that extremes of sleep deprivation are related to increases in abdominal fat in persons younger than 40 years old. Researchers found that people sleeping less than five hours at night gained more abdominal fat over five years, versus those who averaged over six hours per night.
Having adequate sleep nowadays is not easy, especially in urban life and with the daily stresses we face. But you must not ignore the fact that sleep deprivation is one of the primary factors of gaining weight.
Try to sleep at least 6 to 7 hours a night to reduce your risk of weight gain and to improve your stress levels naturally.
The Natural Sleep Foundation recommends several tips for improving your sleep. They include sticking to similar going to bed and wake up times, adopting a relaxing bedtime ritual away from bright lights, avoiding naps in the late afternoon, exercising daily, avoiding alcohol, smoking, and heavy meals in the evening.
If you're struggling to get adequate rest, then speak to your doctor or a sleep professional.
5. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Studies show that chronic stress is a significant contributor to unwanted belly fat. Your body needs a certain amount of stress to operate efficiently. However, too much over extended periods can cause a lot of damage.
Stress triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol, which in turn triggers your cells to release the energy you need to activate your fight or flight response to the stress stimulus.
Significant side effects of stress include uncontrollable and irrational eating. In this state, you typically binge on unhealthy foods, disrupted sleep and insomnia, laziness, and a lower metabolic rate. All of these factors contribute to excess belly fat.
The best way to deal with stress is through physical exercise and mindfulness. A trip down to the gym, a run or brisk walk or yoga, meditation, and dancing are all effective ways to reduce stress.
6. Say No to Alcohol
Alcohol's impact on belly fat is multifaceted.
Firstly it contains a lot of sugar and empty calories (there are approx. 155 calories in 12 ounces of beer and 125 in a 5-ounce glass of wine), and these excesses get stored as belly fat.
It's also burned first as a fuel source before your body uses anything else. If you're eating a burger with a beer, your body will burn the beer for energy and store the burger as fat.
Alcohol also lowers inhibitions and leads to poor judgment calls, especially when it comes to food. You are far less likely to eat a healthy meal under the effects of alcohol, and studies show that you are likely to overeat as well.
Alcohol affects your sleep negatively too. Studies show that alcohol consumption leads to increased periods of wakefulness and insomnia. We've already discussed the need to get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep a day to control the accumulation of belly fat better.
There are numerous other reasons why alcohol contributes to belly fat accumulation, including its impact on digestion and liver function. Given all of this, it's safe to say that staying away from alcohol or reducing your consumption can only benefit you and your belly.
7. Stop Eating Processed Foods
Processed foods are those foods that have gone through some mechanical or chemical operation to preserve or change their nature.
Examples are flavored yogurt packs, most ready or microwave meals, most tinned foods, energy drinks, junk foods, and low-fat salad dressing.
Though it's almost impossible to avoid processed food (studies show that they can be addictive), a person who wishes to lose belly fat has to do so as much as possible. Processed and prepackaged foods contain heavy trans-fat, sodium, sugar, added salt that won't help you in any way to lose belly fat.
8. Drink More Water
Water is vital to ensure that our body remains healthy and functions properly. It is the main component of every organ you have, including the muscles, skin, and bones.
Its effect on weight loss is twofold.
Firstly, dehydration causes your metabolism to slow down, resulting in fewer calories burned. Some studies show that drinking water before a meal increases your metabolic rate by as much as 30%, increasing calorie burn and reducing fat storage.
Secondly, another study showed that drinking more water promotes weight loss through decreased eating and fat loss via lipolysis. Lipolysis is the breakdown of lipids or fats. It also showed a reduced risk for obesity and type 2 obesity.
So, a person should drink more water to lose weight. The ideal amount is debatable. Some health professionals recommend eight glasses of water a day; however, there is no science behind this. Instead, ensuring you quench your thirst when necessary is probably enough, because your thirst instinct is very reliable.
9. Other Options
There are numerous other ways to naturally decrease belly fat. Some of these include the consumption of green tea because of its antioxidant and nutrient content.
Additionally, adding spices to your diet might help too. Spices contain capsaicin that assists in boosting the metabolism rapidly. Spices produce heat in the body that provides energy and burns excess fat and calories.
Spices like hot pepper, turmeric, cardamom, ginger might be useful in burning fat—spices like cinnamon help to activate insulin receptors and stimulate the enzyme system to boost metabolism. Similarly, the consumption of ginger, especially ginger tea, reduces fatty acids in the body and promotes weight stability.
This article covers the definition of belly fat, what causes it, how you can assess your risk for belly fat, especially the more dangerous visceral belly fat. It then covers nine natural and easy to implement ways to address and reduce your belly fat, including improving your diet, reducing stress, and getting more exercise and sleep.
We recommend you develop new habits that include these steps if you suffer from belly fat, or to avoid accumulating it over time.
Remember to consult your doctor or health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet, and exercise regime.
Editorial policies applied in this article.
The Kewl Shop employs strict sourcing guidelines for articles concerning health, exercise, and nutrition. We seek reliance on trusted peer-review studies, academic research papers, and medical association publications to present to you a well balanced and adequately researched article. We link to these trusted sources in the text where required.
Emylee is a wellness lifestyle writer. She loves sharing her thoughts and personal experiences related to natural remedies, yoga, and fitness through her writing. She currently writes for How To Cure. She connects with others experiencing health concerns and helps them through their recovery journeys with natural remedies.
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