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Belly Fat: How to Naturally Lose It

How You Can Lose Belly Fat Naturally

What is Belly Fat?

Belly fat is nobody’s friend.  Belly fat, also called visceral fat, is the fat that is stored around your organs – primarily the stomach, liver, and intestines. Since these organs are housed in your midsection, an abundance of belly fat often creates an uncomfortable, larger belly.  And this fat is not the same kind of fat that layers on top of and hides your six pack abs. Belly fat is necessary and does serve a purpose, however, it’s dangerous to have high amounts of belly fat. Research has linked high amounts of belly fat to:

High levels of belly fat is a problem just limited to overweight individuals. Athletic and skinny people can have too much belly fat also (but that should be confirmed through a doctor).    

There are fairly simply ways to lose belly fat that you can start right away.  And losing the fat is a step in the right direction to improving overall health as well.

Nutrition to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Diet to Lose Belly Fat

Accurate Total Calories

Overeating and under eating will always lead to weight gain.  Most people accept that overeating will cause you to gain weight.  However, many people are surprised to hear that not eating enough can also lead to weight gain.  Severe under eating will force your body to enter ‘survival mode’. Your body will turn everything you eat turn into body fat, and store it to adequately fuel your body later. Overeating, of course, gives your body too much fuel, and leads to more body fat.  You should find that that middle ground that tells your body that it has no reason to hold onto that belly (or other body) fat.

There are many good tools out there – through the internet or for your phone – that you can use to track your daily calorie intake.  This is a good place to start. MyFitnessPal, is the gold standard for phone apps and I like Nutrition Data for a solid website database.  A calorie calculator will help you see how many calories you eat each day.  Tracking this data alongside your weight gain or loss will help you to find that good daily level you should hit each day.   

This can be complex, and talking one-on-one with a qualified health professional will make it easier.  Consider scheduling some time with a dietitian, nutritionist, personal trainer or your general practitioner.  A dietitian or a nutritionist would be able to provide some concrete guidance on food intake.  Since some personal trainers do not carry training or expertise in areas of nutrition, it would be important to check your trainers qualifications before seeking out advice from a trainer.  And while a general medical practitioner can always provide good guidance on matters of health, they may actually refer you to a dietitian or nutritionist to receive more detailed information.

However, as some people have biomedical issues that impact their weight gain or loss.  If you have some of these conditions, or are having problems with your weight, it is a good idea to consult you doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet or engaging in a new exercise regimen.  A doctor may want to examine you and run some tests (for example, looking at your hormone levels) in order to provide informed medical advice.

If you are going to go it on your own, remember to be patient with yourself.  Losing weight does not happen overnight. So be patient, experiment with different diets and exercise regimens, and give yourself and your body the grace it deserves.  If you can do this, you stand a better chance of sustaining your efforts, and actually losing the belly fat.

A calorie calculator is the best way to start this journey.  It can help you to find the right number of calories you and your body need each day – to lost belly fat and to still function properly.   I suggest looking up online what a target calorie count should be for somebody your weight and age. Eat that number of calories for 2 weeks and track your weight progress and how you felt for that time. If you gain weight, then lower the daily calories by 10% and then monitor it for another 2 weeks.  If you lose weight, then maintain that level and continue to track your progress. If you stay at the same weight, then lower the calories by 10% for another two weeks, and see what happens. If you start off losing weight with a 10% decrease and then stay at that weight I would change the way I track my progress and go to body measurements. This way I can see if I’m still losing weight through inches. Typically if you actually plateau your body is comfortable and will do a lot to stay at that weight, also known as Set Point Theory. So to break through, I would suggest going a little bit harder in your workouts for a week or two to make your stubborn body realize you don’t need that extra weight.  

Limiting Sugar

Limiting sugar is a hot topic these days. Some say that sugar is incredibly toxic, causes weight gain, and is responsible for draining your wallet at the movie theaters.  While it is true and sugary treats that Americans are particularly fond of are expensive, sugar in and of itself isn’t that bad. The problems arise when you consume too much sugar.  Excesses of sugar in your diet is linked to increased occurrences of metabolic disease and fatty liver disease.

Most professionals recommend eating between 50 and 100 grams of sugar/carbohydrates a day. This will definitely help with weight loss, and will impact your diet as well.  Reducing your sugar intake will reduce your caloric intake, so be sure to get your calories from other protein or fat if lowering your total sugar intake drops your daily calories a lot.

Avoid excessive alcohol

Drinking a lot of alcohol increases your caloric intake a lot since alcoholic drinks are normally high in calories and easy to digest (which means you don’t feel full and are likely to drink more). Try to limit yourself to a maximum of 2 drinks a day.  If you want to drink more, then select lower calorie options. But keep in mind that drinking even the lowest calorie option will influence your hormones and disrupt sleep patterns. Over time, not getting enough sleep can result in weight gain.

Exercising to Lose Belly Fat

Belly Fat Exercises

Strength Training

Strength training (like weight bearing exercises) will naturally burn more calories due to the high physical demands you are putting on the body.  It definitely will help to melt away belly fat. But did you know strength training can help your body burn more calories a day even when you aren’t working out?  This is because strength training creates muscle. More body muscle takes more calories to maintain. Actually, one extra pound of muscle will burn 50 calories more a day.  That might not sound like much, but that one pound of muscle will burn half a pound over 4 weeks. Now let us add two pounds of muscle, over a year you are burning an extra 36,500 calories.  You can work on your belly fat even on the days you are not working out.  


High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT or high intensity interval training is a program that is designed to condense workouts into a shorter time frame.  This approach gives you equal and sometimes better results than the hour-long workouts.  In short, you do an exercise as hard as you can, then rest for a short period of time, and then go again at maximum effort.  You repeat this cycle for about 20 minutes. It is an intense, hard workout and isn’t recommended for beginners without qualified supervision.  Also, a qualified professional will know what is safe for you and will push you to that limit without injuring you.

Sample Workout

Push-Ups :20 seconds
Rest :10 seconds
Jumping Jacks :20 second
Rest :10 seconds
(Repeat 8 times)
Rest 4:00
Goblet Squats :20 seconds
Rest :10 seconds
High Knees :20 Seconds
Rest :10 seconds
(Repeat 4 times)

Lowering Stress to Help with Belly Fat

Lower Stress to Lose Belly Fat

Stress if the biggest culprit for belly fat.  Cortisol, the stress hormone, in high levels is responsible for anxiety, increased belly fat, high blood pressure, and poor sleep just to name a few. Cortisol is necessary and healthy in moderate levels, but being in a state of constantly elevated stress has seriously detrimental effects on the body.

When cortisol is high, the body will crave sugar. Why? Because your body is trying find ways to not feel stressed and on edge, so it finds ways to get some serotonin, the feel good hormone. Sugar does a stellar job of releasing serotonin.  After you feed that craving, your blood sugar level will go up – which has been, in turn, linked to increased storage of belly fat. Also high cortisol levels will cause gluconeogenesis, this is where your body breaks down protein and turns it into another form of sugar.

This is a significant reason that stress is bad for you and your body.  It causes almost an endless cycle of sugar craving, eating, and storing belly fat.  It is best to avoid this cycle all together.

Ways to Lower Stress

These tips are small things that can help you to relax, view things differently, and help you, your body and your mind cope with or avoid stress.  Work, relationships and money are primary causes of stress. There some vital strategies to reduce stress is to love your work, forge meaningful and engaging relationships, and experience financial freedom.  It is simple enough to say, but working towards these three goals can turn into lifelong endeavors. Below are simple strategies you can adopt immediately to begin to chip away at this cycle of high stress in our lives.  I have tried most of these myself. Some I still do, and some have been harder for me to fit in my schedule. You just have to find a good combination for yourself.

Journaling/Writing

Taking time out of your day to write your thoughts, reflect on your day, and write out your problems and solutions is quite cathartic.  It helps release tension and helps to me think through my concerns or distract me from my stress.

Walking

Walking is underrated for the health benefits it provides. If you go out for 10-15 minutes you can look around, enjoy your surroundings, breath fresh air, expose yourself to sunshine, and take a break from everything that is going on. It is like a pause button you can push for your life.

Exercise

Exercising is a stressor by itself – especially physically, but could also be stressful trying to find time for consistent workouts.  But after you have finished a workout, your cortisol levels will be lower than when you start and other hormones are released that make you feel better about yourself.  

Solid Sleep

Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels and won’t properly give your body and brain the rest it needs. So, getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is important for weight loss. It will keep the cortisol low, but also increase human growth hormone which has a great effect on lowering body fat – another big win.

Good Hugs

Hugs can show you that you are supported and that you aren’t alone in your problems. This helps your brain relax, lower your stress level, and generally make you happier. Who doesn’t enjoy this?  So give and receive as many hugs as you can.

Laughing

It is tough to be stressed when you are happy. Watching a stand-up show, catching the latest comedy or sitcom on the television, enjoying the latest meme, reading the funny pages, or just sharing a laugh with a friend or coworker regularly will help you out.  

Self-Reflection, Prayer, or Meditation

Similar to journaling in that you specifically deal with what is stressing you or what is going amazingly well for you.  Consider setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted time to sit comfortably, think, and focus on what you are grateful for or the good things you are hoping for. Some guided meditation apps like Mindspace or Breethe are useful.

Cold

Being slightly cold will make your body produce more heat to keep its core temperature within its optimal range. Nobody likes to be cold, but just lowering your house thermostat by one degree can achieve the desired results (and save you a little money).  

Water

Drinking adequate amounts of water is always recommended for becoming healthier no matter what aspect of health you are reaching for.  Lowering weight, gaining muscle mass, lowering stress, increasing memory – all benefit from drinking the right amount of water each day.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that adequate water is important. There are online water calculators that you can use to figure out how much water you should be drinking each day.

Standing

Standing more and sitting less is great for posture and productivity at the work place. It also burns more calories throughout the day. Standing will burn roughly about 10% more calories than your resting metabolic rate (the amount of energy you need to maintain body functions when you are not active).  That sounds like it’s nothing. But if we have a resting metabolic rate of 1,500 calories, then by standing you will burn an additional 150 calories. Looking forward, after 20 days of increased standing time, you would’ve burned 3,000 more calories.

Conclusion

We have covered some simple methods to lowering that belly fat. We are not trying to suck the joy out of life.  So look at these simple tips and see what combination will work for your body, health, lifestyle and sanity. I always try to keep it simple because if it’s a pain in the butt to do then you probably won’t do it. So, look at ways to lower your daily stress levels, to bring that diet in check, and increase your strength training.  These will surely help you reduce belly fat and to live a longer life.

-Stay Evolved
Mark

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