Last Updated June 13th, 2021
Understanding belly fat
Belly fat is an abnormal visual increase in the abdominal area. An abdominal circumference beyond 102 cm in men and 88 cm is an indication of abdominal obesity. Belly fat is physically unappealing and causes discomfort. It makes an individual prone to diabetes, heart diseases, breast cancer, colon cancer, stroke, etc. Belly fat is because of inflammation between the fat cells and the fat based macrophages (cells that engulf substances). There is an interruption in the functioning of:
- Leptin (the appetite limiting hormone)
- Adinopectin (a fat hormone that is involved in breaking down of fat and glucose)
Factors contributing to belly fat
The primary reason is an unhealthy diet
Eating too much of junk
When you pass by a pastry shop, you watch these vibrant-colored pastries, some of them are glazed and some garnished royally with rainbow sprinkles, creams, and other kinds of appealing toppings. Sounds mouth-watering right?
Trans fats or unsaturated fatty acids are those that are involved in bad cholesterol build up making you more prone to heart The rise in the “fast food” trend, cream, cookies, cakes, frozen pizza, etc., are all major trains fat contributing factors. These trans fats cause inflammation.
Here’s the catch! Most of the manufactured product labels quote zero trans fat. Actually, a trans fat content of 0.5 g is negated to zero by the manufacturer. Anyone will consume more than a single cookie so it will result in accumulation of trans fat.
Importance of proteins in belly fat reduction
Most of the time, people who are obese, consume a diet comprising of low protein with high carbs and high fat. Proteins are the building blocks of your body. They make you feel full for a long time. So a diet that is inclusive of low protein – high fat will obviously give room for weight gain.
Drinking your way into obesity
Occasional alcohol consumption may not harmful for all. Stress can lead to alcohol consumption. Chronic alcohol consumption can leads to:
- Weight gain
- Excess alcohol consumption causes inflammation and impairs the liver.
- Scientists have discovered a link between obesity and alcoholism. Alcohol (ethanol)is a carbohydrate. It is just calories and enhances your appetite. Excess calories mean weight gain.
A sedentary lifestyle
Lack of physical activity and low intake of food will add to the weight. Workaholic lifestyle has no room for any physical activity. This slows the fat burning process.
Obesity can also result from stress or depression
When you are anxious or stressed, there is a surge in the stress hormone called cortisol. This interferes with the memory, thinking, blood pressure and slows the metabolism. A slower metabolic rate means low-fat burning rate. Stress can result in low self-esteem. This will not motivate an individual to perform any physical activity. The individual is expected to just sit and indulge in binge eating. As long as there is stress, the binge eating tendency will also continue.
Belly fat can be inherited too
The functioning of the genes plays a vital role in belly fat accumulation. Also, if you are surrounded by members who are lazy and consume high carb or high-fat food, you are more likely to get influenced by your environment. If you are surrounded by people who are health conscious, you also tend to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Less sleep means more abdominal fat
Sleep is vital for overall functioning and repair. Inadequate sleep impairs glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, increases the cortisol levels, reduces the leptin levels (a hormone that indicates that you have taken sufficient carbs), increase in ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite.). Those who work on a shift basis are a good example of improper sleep. This impacts mood and stress thinking abilities.
How can smoking cause obesity?
The underlying route between smoking and obesity is yet to be confirmed as the current studies are insufficient. Investigations also show that those who smoke had more abdominal fat than the ones who did not smoke. Smoking interferes with the “making you feel full” factor.
Best ways to reduce belly fat – a holistic approach
Make necessary dietary changes
- Avoid candies, sugary drinks, cakes, sodas, sports drinks, or any substances with added sugars. The high sugar will block the insulin function. This, in turn, impacts the metabolism. The liver gets overloaded with these sugars and will convert them into fat.
- Consumption of high amounts of sugar especially fructose will result in belly fat build up. Consumption of sweetened beverages on a daily basis has shown to upgrade the risk towards belly fat and obesity to 60% in children.
- Carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables are mostly fibers.
- Include a diet rich in proteins. Proteins promote satiety and better metabolism. They increase the pancreatic peptide YY (pYY). This hormone signals the brain to feel full.
- Reports also highlight the consumption of good fats such as coconut, olive oil, nuts, seeds, or even consume avocado. These foods contain good unsaturated fats and keep your body stimulated on the fat burning process.
Refrain from smoking and consumption of alcohol.
Both these factors not just cause weight gain, but also conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis, cancer, fatty liver disease, etc. Smoking magnifies the inflammatory reactions in the body.
Exercise regularly to curb that stubborn belly fat
It is important to have a decent amount of physical activity and a good exercise routine to reduce belly fat and enhance your immunity. Exercise improves blood circulation. This enhances the movement of immune cells. Your body’s immune system will be quick enough to act on any infection.
Also, when you exercise, your body temperature increases. This expels any bacteria residing in the lungs. Also, the body’s natural response of temperature increase is to curtail the bacteria from growing.
This temperature enables the body’s immune system to work more effectively. Exercising slows the rate at which stress hormones get Certain stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, etc., make you more prone to illness. You can opt for a combination of yoga and aerobics or a combination of aerobics and weights. You can also combine cardio, weights and a few resistance exercises as well.
Tabata training helps in muscle strengthening and fat burning too. This training involves a switch between 20 s of workout and 10 s rest. This short interval of rest keeps your body’s heart rate constant throughout your exercise routine. This will enable you to burn additional calories. The Tabata training consists of 6 exercises:
Push-ups – you lie on the floor with your chest facing the ground and push back and forth using your arms
Planks – an internal strengthening core exercise that involves you to maintain a certain posture for a maximum time period and repeating it.
Lunges – an effective thigh cum belly fat burning exercise
Squats – targets the belly and thigh fat
Dips – push-ups in a sitting position using a prop like a chair
Bent-over rows – you bend over, hold weights and move your back and forth
Ideally, you need to carry out eight rounds of each of these exercises and each of the exercises must include 20 seconds of workout and 10 seconds of rest. You can finish these exercises individually or alternate between them.
Make sure you get adequate sunlight
Sunlight is a natural vitamin D source. This vitamin facilitates good calcium absorption in your bones. Research has emphasized obtaining an optimal amount of sun exposure to prevent metabolic abnormalities.
Indulge in stress-busting regimes
Combat stress with meditation, soothing music, or by taking up any hobby, yoga, aromatherapy, etc. This will lower the levels of the stress hormones and stress-related reactions and has a positive impact on sleep.
Get an adequate amount of sleep
Getting sufficient sleep reduces the excitatory activity of the brain cells. It aids in repair and healing in the body. The thinking abilities and quality of living become more refreshing.
The final takeaway
Belly fat is less appealing and has adverse health impacts. Most people with belly fat are prone to diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Stress, poor lifestyle, unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, family history, etc., are some of the contributing factors.
There are many ways you can combat belly fat. It is vital to consume a well-nourished diet that includes nuts, green tea, fiber, fruits, vegetables, etc. Exercise promotes belly fat reduction and enhances immunity. Meditation, taking up a new hobby, or being a part of a laughter club, etc., are some positive options you can include to lower stress.
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