Belly fat is the visceral fat surrounding the liver and other organs in the abdomen, close to the portal vein that carries blood to the liver. This fat can be harmful to the body but proper measures can be taken to reduce belly fat. That said, spot reduction is not a practice that is recommended by HealthifyMe. However, we look at what one can do to reduce belly fat.
Causes of Belly Fat:
Contrary to popular belief, people with a normal body mass index(BMI), but having excess belly fat, also face increased risk of the above health problems. Here are a few potential reasons for the accumulation of excessive belly fat:
Sugary food and beverages: Studies have shown a link between high sugar intake and excess belly fat. This is mainly due to the extra refined sugar added during processing. While excess sugar in any form can be harmful, sugar-sweetened beverages are especially problematic.
Alcohol: Another possible cause for sudden belly fat gain is alcohol. Studies have linked the excessive consumption of alcohol to an increase in belly fat, with one study finding that men who consumed more than 3 drinks a day were 80% more likely to have excess body fat.
Sedentary lifestyle: One’s activity levels also play a major role in the accumulation of belly fat. A study showed that people who performed resistance training or aerobic exercise for a year after losing weight were able to prevent abdominal fat gain, while those who did not exercise faced a 25-38% increase in belly fat.
Stress: Cortisol, commonly called the ‘stress hormone’, is produced by the adrenal glands in stressful situations. While stress drives overeating, cortisol causes the excess calories to be stored as fat in the belly.
Genetics: Similar to genes playing a major role in increased obesity risk, genetics may be partly responsible for the tendency of the body to store fat in the abdomen area.
6 Tips to Reduce Belly Fat
In order to reduce tummy fat, one needs to follow a well planned routine. However, the following tips can help reduce the accumulation of fat in the abdominal region:
#1 Eat plenty of soluble fiber
Soluble fiber forms a gel with water that slows down food as it passes through your digestive system. This type of fiber promotes weight loss since it helps you feel full for a longer time, thereby preventing unnecessary food intake.
#2 Avoid Alcohol
While alcohol can have health benefits when consumed in limited amounts, it can be seriously harmful if consumed in excess. One way alcohol can negatively impact your body is by increasing the risk of abdominal obesity. Cutting back on it may help reduce one’s waist size. While there’s no need to give it up altogether, limiting the amount of alcohol consumed regularly is a must.
#3 Drink Green Tea
A very healthy beverage, green tea contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that appears to boost metabolism. The effect of the antioxidants in green tea may be strengthened when its consumption is combined with exercise.
#4 Workout regularly
Cardio or aerobic exercises are an effective way to reduce belly fat. While that may have been proven by various studies, the results are varied regarding the intensity of exercise necessary. In addition to cardio, resistance training can further help with fat loss too. That said, it is ideal to consult a personal fitness trainer before getting started on high-intensity resistance training.
#5 Get enough sleep
Sleep affects various aspects of one’s health, including belly fat accumulation. People who don’t get enough of it tend to gain more weight. Sleep apnea, where breathing stops intermittently at night, has also been linked to excess visceral fat. A minimum of 7 hours of quality sleep every night is a must to keep one’s fat gain under control.
#6 Track your calories
Extra calories in any form get stored in the body as fat. It is ideal to keep track of the number of calories being consumed and burnt on a daily basis. This can help avoid fat accumulation in the body. You can use the calorie tracker available on the HealthifyMe app for the same.
4 Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat
Workout is a key part of almost every weight loss journey. Exercises that specifically target the abdominal area would go a long way in helping reduce belly fat. Here are 4 exercises that you can do to lose belly fat
#1 Vertical Leg Crunch
Lie flat on the floor with legs extended upwards and then one knee that is crossed over the other.
Breathe in and then lift the upper body towards the pelvis. Breathe out slowly.
Do 12-16 crunches in two or three sets.
#2 Bicycle exercise
Lie on the mat, or on the floor and keep your hands either behind your head or by your side just like you would for crunches.
Lift both your legs off the ground and bend them at the knees.
Bring the right knee close to the chest while keeping the left leg down.
Take the right leg down and bring the left leg towards the chest.
Alternate bending the knees as if you are using a bicycle.
Start by lying down flat with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
Lift your hands and then place them behind the head or keep them crossed on the chest. Inhale deeply.
As you lift the upper torso off the floor, you should exhale. Again inhale when you get back down and then exhale as you come up.
If you are a beginner, start by doing 10 crunches in every set. Each day, aim to complete two to three sets of crunches.
#4 Bird dog
Put your weight on your hands and toes while bending your knees to take a tabletop position. Squeeze your core to keep your spine straight.
Raise your left arm to reach straight forward, while simultaneously raising your right leg and stretching it out.
Hold for a count, squeezing your core, before returning to the original position.
Repeat the movement with your right arm and left leg to complete 1 rep.
Let HealthifyMe Sr. Fitness Coach, Ashutosh, demonstrate how you can do some of these exercises to help you lose belly fat.
Fat Loss Diet Plan
Eating the right kind of food is central to losing belly fat. It is ideal to follow a well-thought-out diet planned as per your needs and requirements. We have put together a 1200 calorie diet plan to help you understand how you can go about planning your diet. However, it must be noted that a 1500 calorie diet plan is ideal for men, while a 1200 calorie diet plan works better for women.
That said, dietary requirements vary from person-to-person. Understand what plan works best for you by consulting a nutritionist, and choose your diet accordingly.