Do you look in the mirror every day to check your figure but you notice that your belly is not dropping? Don’t worry! We will give you some indications derived from scientific studies to show you what you are doing wrong in the daily effort to slim the abdomen. Eliminating belly fat is important, and not just for good looking purposes. The belly fat in excess, in particular visceral fat i.e. that surrounds the organs and form the typical “bacon”, is a sign of a predisposition for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some form of cancer.
Aesthetically, having low percentage of belly fat, makes you look leaner and stronger. It gives the impression that you are an active person.
If diet and exercises have not been very helpful in shrinking your tummy so far, this can be due to many different factors. Knowing them can make the difference to better plan your weight loss strategy and in any case to become more aware of the functioning of your body. Here is what these factors may be, in the opinion of experts.
With aging, the body changes. This leads to increasing or losing weight depending on the subject. Both men and women experience a drop in metabolic needs, that is, in the number of calories required by the body for its basic functions. In addition, however, women have to face menopause. “Women who gain weight after menopause typically accumulate belly fat” says Michael Jensen, professor of medicine in the endocrinology division at Mayo Clinic. “In menopause, the production of hormones, estrogen and progesterone decreases and this can also favor the accumulation of abdominal fat”. The good news is that this phenomenon can be countered.
A jog a day is ideal for your heart. But most of the time aerobic exercise alone is not enough to eliminate the last layer of fat from your belly, the most difficult to melt.
To get rid of the belly, you need to combine weight training with aerobic exercises. Exercising with weights increases muscle mass. This leads the body to burn more calories. However, if you are afraid of using weights because you are afraid of getting hurt or perhaps because you prefer to train at home instead of in the gym, at the bottom of this article you will find an important suggestion.
Muscles burn more calories and therefore with more muscle you will burn more fat throughout the day according to dieticians. It is recommended to spend 250 minutes of moderate exercise or 120 minutes of high intensity exercise per week to be able to burn a high number of calories.
The refined grains found in breads and crackers, for example, as well as the refined sugars found in sugary drinks and sweets, increase the inflammation of the body. Abdominal fat is associated with inflammation. Thus, eating lots of refined foods will affect your ability to lose fat. Natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, on the other hand, are rich in antioxidants. These have anti-inflammatory properties and can therefore help to dispose of fat on the abdomen.
The body does not respond to all fats equally. Research has linked a high intake of saturated fat (those found in red meat and dairy products) to an increase in abdominal fat. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (such as those present in olive oil and avocado) and some types of polyunsaturated (mainly Omega-3 present in nuts and fish) have an anti-inflammatory effect. If consumed in moderation, they can lead to real benefits for the body. But be careful never to overdo it, because any type of fat brings a lot of calories and must therefore be limited.
Deadlines, bills, children… whatever your source of stress, this is one factor that will make the road to weight loss much more difficult. And not only because stress leads to sweeter and more fat-rich foods but also because the stress hormone, cortisol, can increase the fat layer by enlarging individual fat cells.
If you’re among the 30% of people who sleep less than 6 hours a night, here’s an easy way to cut your waistline: sleep more. A 16-year study involving more than 70,000 women found that 30% of those who slept 5 hours or less a night weighed at least 13 kg more than those who slept 7.
Do you sit up to exhaustion? Stop! When you have to shed the last few pounds of belly fat, abs are not the most suitable exercise. It is not possible to eliminate fat locally. Instead, the suggestion is to do functional exercises that make the entire central part of the body work. These exercises use different muscles, so they require a higher number of calories to perform.
The most suitable for this purpose are bending on the arms (the classic “push-ups”). This is because they activate the muscles of the trunk but also those of the arms, legs and buttocks. However, the best way to make the entire central area of the body work to the maximum is to use elastic bands like these. In fact, this approach allows you to stimulate practically all the muscles of the body using a few simple tool. Further, it is safe as there is no risk of tearing and stretching, as can happen instead in the case of weights if badly used. Finally, the bands are also comfortable because they allow you to perform all the exercises at home without having to move to the gym.
With the set that I linked to you above, a free training program is also provided on smartphones and guides, always free, to download via the internet. On the web you can still find hundreds of great free articles and guides on how to train with bands.
The formation of abdominal fat has repercussions on health. Obviously, they also have aesthetic effects; for we all would like to have a flat stomach or sculpted abs. On the one hand, to achieve this result, it is necessary to take into account that intrinsic factors (age, metabolism, hormones, genetics) impose limits on the objectives that can actually be achieved. On the other hand, we must not be discouraged because of the simple precautions on exercises performed. Lifestyle can make a difference and lead us to be healthy and proud of our bodies again… science says it!