Belly fat refers to two different types of fatty tissue: visceral fat (sometimes called active fat) and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is hard to identify, it is stored around your internal organs in your abdominal region, including your liver, pancreas and intestines. While subcutaneous fat is stored directly below your skin, it is the type of fat where you can “pinch an inch” from your belly, arms, thighs or just about anywhere else on your body.
Belly fat predisposes you to diseases and conditions. Too much belly fat can interfere with your liver functions and interrupt normal hormonal communications between your vital organs which can lead to insulin resistance (the beginning of diabetes), high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a higher risk for developing heart disease. High belly fat storage has also been linked to breast cancer, colorectal cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In addition, belly fat enlarges your waistline, causes high blood pressure, high triglycerides (fat in the blood), low HDL (“good”cholesterol) and rising blood sugar due to high visceral fat stores.
To stop and reverse the accumulation of this dangerous fat, you should;
- Avoid sugar or sugar-sweetened drinks. Excess sugar, mostly due to the large amounts of fructose, can lead to increased accumulation of fat in the belly. Replace sugar-sweetened drinks with whole fruits.
- Eat more protein. Evidence shows that protein is effective against belly fat, it reduces cravings and boosts metabolism. Foods such as whole eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat, dairy products and some whole grains are best protein sources in your diet.
- Eat low carbs diet and avoid refined carbs. Low-carb diets reduce fat in the belly, and around the organs and liver via ketosis.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Aerobic exercise (like walking, running, swimming) has been shown to cause major reductions in belly fat in numerous studies. Exercise reduces inflammation, blood sugar levels and all the other metabolic abnormalities that are associated with central obesity.
- Eat foods rich in soluble and viscous fiber. Foods of plant source such as fruits, vegetables, cereals (oats) are rich source of fiber in our diets. They induce prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced appetite.
- Optimize your diet by tracking what and how much you eat. It helps you to make adjustments and get closer to your goal of a flat tummy.
- Eat foods rich in polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are the ones in nuts, seeds, and fish; they help you gain more muscle mass and lose belly fat.
- Consume a tablespoon or two of vinegar daily. A study reveals that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat.
- Drink green tea daily. The antioxidants found in green tea, called catechins, help you to burn fat.
- Sleep well for at least eight hours and don’t oversleep on weekends. Chaotic sleep habits cause your internal clock to go haywire, which in turn causes your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol.
In order to improve your overall health, you should make healthier lifestyle choices that will improve your quality of life.
Compiled by: Victoria Haruna, BSc. (Biochem), MPH (Health Promotion and education)
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- Kris Gunnars; 6 Simple Ways to Lose Belly Fat, Based on Science. Authority Nutrition. Retrieved 2017.