How to Reduce Belly Fat – Tips and Exercises
Obesity is a global issue owing to the lifestyle, food and disease states of Individuals.
So if you want to reduce belly fat, you need to have an understanding of the aetiology and physiology of the condition.
Many of you may be familiar with the typical protruding belly appearance that is a result of excessive fat accumulation around your abdomen. However, all fat is not created equal.
Our body has mainly two types of fat-
- Subcutaneous Fat- which is found as a thin layer just underneath our skin
- Visceral Fat- which surrounds our inner organs and provides cushioning effect against trauma.
Both play important roles in our bodies. Despite their indispensable role, too much fat can lead to a plethora of diseases from stroke to diabetes, hypertension, heart disorders, asthma and more.
So it’s essential to manage belly fat to avoid obesity-related disorders
Causes of Belly Fat
There can be several culprits behind belly fat-
- Eating too much- Here’s the harsh truth. Eating a surplus of calories, especially junk food and processed food, over an extended period will cause you to put on excess weight and increase the fat percentage in your body. Unfortunately for us, the body loves to store fat in the abdomen. The result? Central obesity-aka a big belly.
- Not moving enough- Our sedentary lifestyles, extended periods of sitting, and poor posture all contribute to belly fat. Unless you lead a relatively active life with plenty of varied exercises, chances are that you’ll end up with a paunch.
- Age- As we grow older, our metabolism slows down. We lose muscle and gain fat more easily which causes increased belly fat.
- Genetics- Research shows that some individuals are more prone to accumulating fat in certain areas of their bodies due to their genetics.
- Habits- Deleterious habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol play a significant role in increasing belly fat. Worse, these harmful habits are often seen in combination, leading to a negative synergistic effect.
- Stress- Chronic stress has been shown to result in increased fat through multiple mechanisms. Stress leads to hormonal cascades that negatively impact all major body systems. It can also alter our behavior- the most common example being binge eating.
- Hormones- Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels may be the reason for increased belly fat as well. This is even more marked post-pregnancy and around menopause
- Sleep Deprivation- Researchers have proven that both acute and chronic sleep deprivation leads to increased belly fat and obesity
- Medication- Tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids and many other medications can cause an increase in belly fat.
- Diseases- Conditions like Cushing’s and PCOS( Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ) can also lead to weight gain.
How can you lose belly fat?
Losing belly fat can be fairly easy once you understand the reason behind those extra inches. That being said, there is no silver bullet and you must take a multifaceted and holistic approach towards losing belly fat and becoming healthier.
One of the important aspects is portion control. The Japanese have a unique concept “ eat till you are no longer hungry, not till you are full”. This has been shown to contribute towards the country’s health and obesity management.
1. Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
The most important thing you can do to reduce belly fat is to control your diet.
“How?”, you ask.
Replace junk with food rich in fibre and proteins.
- Eat an ample amount of protein with every meal- protein helps your body to put on muscle and repair itself. This is crucial for looking and being healthy while you lose fat.
- Cut out refined sugars and trans fat- Highly processed foods like doughnuts, pizzas etc can increase visceral fat by 7.2%. They can even lead to high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
- Eat plenty of fresh foods and vegetables- search for those with high fibre content such as beans, peas and lentils. Berries are also an excellent choice as they are rich in antioxidants
- Limit alcohol and quit smoking
2. Exercise Regularly – both cardio and strength training are important
It is becoming increasingly clear that future generations will look at our sedentary lifestyles like we look at smoking in the past generations- a health hazard that has become normalized.
Regular vigorous exercise is your best friend.
HIIT Cardio is one of the best things you can do to shred fat. It’s also brilliant for your heart and mood.
Strength training will make you stronger and make it easier for you to lose weight so make sure you don’t skip it.
3. Reduce stress levels as much as possible
Instead of wasting your free time, partying and drinking, Learn to acknowledge your dependencies and learn healthier alternatives to deal with stress. Here are a few things you can try:
- Yoga and meditation
- Gratitude journaling
- Lifestyle modifications
- Minimalism and simple-living
4. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks
No green tea can help you if you add 3 sachets of sugar to it. Be mindful of drinking excess calories in the form of sugary drinks such as sodas and juices. Instead, look to the good old O to quench your thirst.
5. Get enough sleep every night
The biggest investment you can make towards your health is giving yourself a proper night’s sleep.
- Aim to get 6-9 hours of shut-eye every night.
- Keep away all digital devices for half an hour before retiring for the day
- Set a fixed sleep and waking up time
Sleep helps our brains to recharge and clears away toxins. It gives our bodies a chance to recover from the stresses of everyday life and remain energetic and healthy.
So these were the ways to lose belly fat naturally. Keep being consistent and you’ll be seeing the changes sooner than you’d expect.