We’ll probably be over-indulgent and promise to consign the extra calories to future workouts – maybe even as part of our New Year resolutions.
But is exercise enough to lose the (not so cute) stuffing around our middle?
First of all, just what is belly fat?
It’s normal to have some fat in your body, even for slim people. Triglycerides (the fat circulating in your blood), subcutaneous fat (the fat below the skin’s surface) and visceral fat (belly fat beneath the stomach muscles) comprise the three fat types. The fat in your abdominal cavity or around your middle, is the obvious belly fat.
Some fat lies just beneath the skin while other fat lies deeper inside around your organs, like your lungs, liver and heart. Some of this deeper fat provides protection around the organs, but an unhealthy excess of visceral fat can result in serious health issues – even for the skinny ones. Note that someone heavier could be perfectly healthy while someone skinny could be suffering from issues normally associated with obesity.
What causes belly fat?
- sedentary lifestyle
- not enough protein in the diet
- inadequate amount of sleep
- sugary foods and drinks – yes, fruit juice has calories too
How does it affect your body?
Too much visceral fat is dangerous for just about all your organs. It can overwork them and over-produce hormones and chemicals. Gaining too much weight means the fat needs somewhere else to be stored, like within the organs and around the heart. You are more likely to end up with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancers like breast and colon and Type 2 diabetes.
What about working out to minimize belly fat and bloating?
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of belly fat. Commit to half an hour of vigorous aerobic exercise at least 4 times per week: walking, jogging, dancing or using stationary machines simulating running, walking or rowing. Work up a sweat, breathe hard and increase the heart rate.
Even moderate exercise like gardening, playing with your children or taking the dog for a walk can also burn belly fat.
What part does nutrition play in removing the sludge?
Eating a balanced diet, makes a difference in maintaining a healthy weight. Central to good health is an intake of high-fiber, which encourages the movement of material though your digestive system and the reduction of constipation. High fiber is found in apples, whole grains, beans, peas, oats, citrus, barley and carrots.
Also, put a variety of colorful vegetables and fruit on your plate. Among the many benefits are complex carbohydrates, natural sugars, antioxidants and plenty of nutrients. Foods rich in protein: fish, poultry, lean meats and eggs, have long been linked to increasing metabolism and reducing cravings. Be sure to have healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.
Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water (8-10 glasses) every day to flush out toxins among many benefits. Lowering refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread) in your diet is said to get rid of water weight quickly. Keep down your intake of sugars, especially refined sugars and sweetened drinks.
What else in my lifestyle can keep away belly fat, besides a healthy diet and exercise?
Sleep – It might surprise you but those who have regular rest – about 6-7 hours of sleep each night – tend to have less visceral fat.
Your mind and stress – We all have it but how we handle it, is critical. Indulge in “me time” by first turning off your devices. Then take some time out: a relaxing soak in the tub with aromatherapy, breathing in fresh air in a beautiful place outdoors, taking in a spa day/ treatment or a session of calming music. Make the time to relax with family and friends, laugh, meditate, exercise and reach out for professional counseling, if you need it.
So, is a workout routine enough to get rid of belly fat? The answer is no. Though exercise is important, aiming for a balanced life – also including diet, regular rest and attention to your mental health – contributes to combating unwanted belly fat.
You don’t have wait until New Year’s Eve to resolve to live healthier, de-stress and to get up and get active. Any day, including today will work.
As always …
Dedicated to Your Beauty