Belly fat can lead to an increased risk of hazardous conditions. The fat between your organs is known as visceral fat and it comes with a greater risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The added sugars and high carbs are some of the main culprits in causing excess belly fat. Some people believe it’s the fat in food that causes this. However, not all fats are created equal, which is why recognizing and eating healthy fats and complex carbs can help you lose weight.
Weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit. This is why controlling what you eat is more important than exercising. For example, a good 40-minute cardio session could help you burn 300 to 400 calories but one high carb meal with a tall glass of soda could consist of 500 calories. This is why some people who exercise a lot do not notice weight loss and become emotional distressed and may end up eating even more.
The ultimate goal is calorie control, some weight loss supplements could help you, but eating the right foods is the main priority. This article is going to guide you through weight loss. We are focusing on weight loss methods that are proven to be effective in clinical studies, some more extensive than others.
With a goal of losing 2 to 3 pounds per week, you could be over 30 pounds lighter in three months.
1. Replacing Your Carbohydrates
Identify and limit “bad” carbs, such as refined or processed carbohydrates. These include foods that have added sugars — such as baked goods and soda — and “white” refined goods, which includes white bread and white rice. White rice isn’t that bad, but brown rice is slightly better due to the additional fiber. These refined carbs have little no nutritional value due to the process in which most of the nutrients, such as vitamins, fiber and minerals are destroyed by heat or removed during preparation. These carbs trigger your insulin levels, which is stored as fat around your waist.
Replace bad carbs with whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, steel-cut oats, bran flakes and leafy green vegetables. These foods tend to be higher in fiber content and low in sugar. More fiber means the food stays longer in your digestive system and you feel fuller even when you eat less.
Consider healthy carbs, such as fruits (a little) and whole grains, which include quinoa, oats and brown rice. These foods are rich in minerals, vitamins and fiber, which is often removed when they are refined into simple carbs. With these healthier carbs in mind, you still want to go on a low-carb diet for the best results.
2. Go On a Low Carb Diet
There is a lot of evidence that a low-carb diet is much more effective than going on a low-fat diet to lose weight. Low carbohydrate and Mediterranean-style dieting have been found to boost weight loss efforts and cut the risk of heart disease.
When on a low carb diet, you will need to go easy on the fruits and nuts. Although they are healthy, some people are carbohydrate sensitive, which makes it more difficult to lose belly fat. Try to eat no more than a handful of nuts and a few berries on top of your occasional Greek yogurt and stick to high protein foods and lots of vegetables.
How to Eat a Low Carb Diet
Include eggs in your breakfast. Eggs are a staple for many American breakfast meals and it’s a good source of protein and multivitamins and minerals. Eggs are high in vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E and selenium. Despite its high cholesterol, eggs are not associated with an increased risk of heart disease in healthy individuals and is beneficial addition to a regular diet, according to the “Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.” Eggs can be boiled, fried — with minimal oil — or poached.
Add vegetables to every meal. Vegetables are going to replace the carbs in your diet and you can eat plenty of it. Green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, kale, celery and cucumbers are generally low in carbohydrates. Large leaf vegetables, such as lettuce can serve as a wrap and replace a tortilla.
One of the best foods to curb hunger is vegetable broth. I strongly recommended to drink these as a snack replacement a few times a day.
Add flavor (herbs and spices) and protein to your meals with lean meats, nuts or seafood. Tuna is a healthy source of protein and an easy addition to a mixed green salad. You could also try grilled chicken and broccoli, baked salmon and green beans or grilled burgers — without the bun — with flavoured spinach. Herbs such as ginger, garlic, parsley and cayenne pepper can enhance the taste of your food and help with digestion and weight loss.
Commonly consumed breakfast meats, which include sausages and bacon are often high in saturated fat and won’t fit into a healthy diet plan. Opt for lean meats, turkey bacon and eggs for breakfast, choose grass-fed loin beef cuts when available or skinless chicken.
Incorporate mature cheese to one of your meals. Hard and mature cheese tend to be low in carbohydrates due to fermentation. Low-carb cheese include parmesan, blue cheese and cheddar cheese. Grate some parmesan or cheddar on your egg or add some blue cheese while cooking your egg. Avoid fresh cheese and high-carb cheese, such as cottage cheese.
There are several food options, look for a low-carb cookbook so you don’t run out of ideas.
3. You Have to Quit Sugar
Sugar naturally occurs in foods, such as fruits, dairy and vegetables. While you should keep your fruit portions small, these are not the sugars you need to worry about. Added sugars have been linked to obesity and belly fat. A study published in a 2013 issue of “Obesity” evaluated the relationship between added sugar and cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that can increase belly fat due to more cortisol receptor being in that area.
The results of the study found that there is a relationship between sugar intake and cortisol. The researchers state that cortisol was significantly related to visceral adipose tissue, which is the dangerous kind of belly fat.
Added sugar is also very high in calories, a few sweets or small candy bars a day could result in an extra 2 to 5 pounds per week. Just one snack binge could effect several weeks of your weight loss efforts. If you feel the need to chew on something try air-popped popcorn. Not with sugar of course.. you will be surprised how great mixed herbs taste with popcorn.
By cutting down your sugar intake, you should be able to see weight loss results and your waist size shrink. One quick way to reduce your sugar intake is by replacing fizzy drinks and fruit juice with water. If your really craving something sweet eat a few grapes or sugar substitutes.
4. Eat Healthy More Fats
A study published in a 2007 issue of “Diabetes Care” evaluated the effects of a monounsaturated-rich diet on belly fat in those with diabetes and obesity. When compared to a diet rich in carbs, the monounsaturated-rich diet helped regulate glucose levels and breakdown fatty acids more effectively.
It also lowered insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent fat from strong around the abdominal area. A Mediterranean diet is rich in monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is one of the best sources of these fats, as well as peanut butter, avocados and canola oil.
MUFAs or monounsaturated fatty acids are also beneficial for your heart, reducing cholesterol and reducing blood pressure. Its best eaten in a diet rich in vegetables and oily fish — in which omega 3 fatty acids are found.
Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids; a study published in the “Appetite” medical journal found that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can help you control your hunger. The researchers found that the obese participants were less hungry and felt fuller directly after dinner and two hours later when omega-3 was in the red blood cells.
Evidence also suggest that PUFAs or polyunsaturated fats can help combat a beer belly and reduce your overall body weight. Eating PUFAs in food with exercise also seems to help; however, the researchers note that longer studies are required to fully understand it’s benefits.
These positive results are found in both human and animal studies, so the evidence is pretty good. Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats so you get these essential fats from the same food sources in oily fish, such as salmon and peanut butter.
5. Eat More Protein
A study published in the “Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases” in 2009 looked at the short-term effects of eating a high-protein diet. The researchers looked at data from three randomized trials that lasted three months.
The results showed that eating a high-protein diet resulted in weight loss, a reduction in belly fat and heart disease risk factors in those vulnerable. Eating a high-protein diet also helped reduce cholesterol levels and blood-fat levels.
If you decide to take on weight-lifting as part of your weight loss regimen, a high-protein diet is also ideal for growing muscle. More muscles also means that you burn calories much more efficiently — even when you are resting — because muscles require more energy to be maintained. Turkey, chicken breast, eggs, beans, cheese, tofu and Greek yoghurt are great sources of protein. This also why muscular people can get away with a cheat meal every now and then.
You will want most of your meals to include a source of protein with seeds, vegetables and healthy fats, as previously discussed.
6. Do Some Aerobic Exercise (a little will help)
Exercise is a great way to ensure your meeting the calorie deficit you require for weight loss. It’s also a great way to get back on track when you overindulge in a birthday party or wedding event. You don’t have to do much to lose an additional 300 calories daily.
Choose the stairs instead of taking the elevator, walk instead of driving, dance, clean the house or drop and do push-up during the five-minute advertising breaks of your favorite TV show. You can always fit in a small workout; they add up.
It’s best to workout with friends, it makes it less boring and you have more accountability. Try joining a fitness club with reward points for meeting goals.
I find that performing a physical sport you love is the best way to get in a good workout. Our natural competitiveness to win a basketball game or get a touchdown will push you harder than jogging on a treadmill.
7. Do HIIT Once Per Week
When combined with regular exercise, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help you burn belly fat fast. This exercise consist of high to moderate intervals that last anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. For example, you sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for 30 seconds — continuing these intervals for 20 minutes.
Studies show that you continue to burn fat several hours after these type of exercise. In 2015, the “The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” notes that conventional training is more effective when HIIT is included.
As your fitness improves you can perform HIIT up to twice a week. However, consult your doctor before doing so, since this is an intense form of cardiovascular exercise.
8. Count Your Calories
If you are on a low-carb diet, the chances are you are going to be on a good calorie deficit. However, calorie counting can give you a better idea of exactly how much weight you are losing weekly and how many calories you are eating in each meal. For example, counting calories will let you know if you are eating too many nuts or too much fruit.
There are several online tools that can give you an idea of how many calories are in your meals, as well as charts, graphs and other fun tools to keep count of your calorie intake. MyPlate or Fitday are a good tools for keeping track of your calorie intake.
If you really want to go high-tech, a fitness watch or tracker can help you keep track of your sleeping patterns and how much calories you are burning each day.
Don’t forget to reward yourself when you hit your weekly weight loss goal. The brain responds well to a reward system, having something to look forward to, is a great motivational tool.
Other Important Weight Loss Tips
Forget doing crunches to lose belly fat. They simply do not work, you cannot target your abdominal area to lose weight, you have to reduce your overall body weight.
Get plenty of sleep. You should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. Try and be consistent will your sleeping pattern. Go to bed at the same time every night and make sure your room is dark.
Consistency is key. Losing belly fat is a long-term strategy, there are no shortcuts. You have to be consistent with your diet more than any other part of the weight-loss regimen. Stick to the low-carb diet and you will see results. When you do get tempted to eat sugary snacks, eat them on the day you do a cardiovascular workout. This way you can use that energy to fuel your workout, rather than the carbs storing around your waist.
If you have the budget for it, get a nutritionist and personal trainer. You could have all your meals pre-delivered so you know exactly how much food you are putting in your body and a personal trainer can create a plan that fits into your work schedule. These are every expensive options but are not worth it if it will cause financial strain. Meal plans and training plans are available for free online; however, a customized one for you is always better.
Cook your stir-fry with a teaspoon of coconut oil. It contains the type of fat that is easily burn off as energy, rather than storing as fat.
Consult your doctor. If all efforts fail, you may have a health condition or medication that makes it difficult for you to lose weight. You will get better results treating these conditions or changing medication.