Belly fat, we all have it. Fat is an essential part of our human makeup. Until recent centuries, obesity was monopolized by royalty. Few people enjoyed the luxury of rich foods and limited exercise until the industrialization of the world. Obesity is now an epidemic. Comfort—once a luxury—is now an expectation. As our species enjoys the comforts of modern living, they also are ganging the mid-section bulge only the kings possessed. However, when we look in the mirror and the last thing we contemplate is royalty. We want to lose that belly fat.
Belly fat has grown out of style. It is not a sign of prosperity. Americans spend billions of dollars a year to reduce the size of their midsections. Is a flat tummy just a cosmetic fad or is there more substance to all the hype? The fat around mid-section has a biological purpose. It is referred to as a visceral fat.
Visceral fat forms around the organs providing the organs with protection. I suppose that for much of human history calories were not readily available, while survival demanded an excess of exercise, limiting the health problems associated with expanding waistlines. It was a luxury to have the extra calories stored as fat. Because of the biological importance of eating and a history of starvation, we biologically divert extra calories to visceral fat first.
Evolution takes thousands of years to catch up to environmental changes. We now live in a calorie rich environment. Fast food is always available. A burger and fries is available for a few dollars. These small, convenient meals can pack more calories than our ancestors consumed in several days. Calorie rich and nutrient poor is the common enemy of our day.
Visceral Fat and Your Health
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that excessive visceral fat has damaging effects on health. Excessive visceral fat that gathers around the organs interfere with healthy functioning. The overabundant fat is associated with hypertension, cardiovascular heart disease, type two diabetes, and even cancer. For our health, we must lose the belly fat.
Four Ways to Lose Belly Fat
There is no magic pill or exercise for reducing belly fat—although many proclaim to have the cure. There are, however, several positive steps we can take to lose the inches, and restore healthier functioning to our vital organs. These cures are not glamorous but are effective.
Vigorous exercise burns fat including stubborn belly fat. It increases muscle mass, which then increases the body’s metabolism. Whole body engagement attacks the fat more than specific abdominal focused exercises like crunches.
Your current fitness level determines what is or is not vigorous exercise. A brisk walk, circuit training, or interval training all can burn calories and challenge current fitness levels, depending on your state of fitness. If you have been inactive or are making significant changes to your routines, consult with your doctor.
2. Healthy Diet
Make your calories count. Nutrition is the foundation of health. Whole body health is not simply a calorie restricted diet. Calorie restriction when employed haphazardly can be as damaging as over indulging. Eliminate trans-fats (often listed as hydrogenated oils) and saturated fats, processed foods and simple carbohydrates (sugars and refined flours) while simultaneously increasing whole foods. Increased fiber intake has been shown to reduce visceral fat. Healthy fats from nuts, fish and avocado also have been associated with visceral fat loss. Dr. Oz suggests adding low fat dairy products and green tea to your diet to help fight visceral fat (2017).
3. Proper Sleep
Sleep is essential for a well-functioning body. Multiple studies have shown that inadequate and poor quality sleep lead to food cravings, weigh gain and higher susceptibility to disease. Most people require 6-8 hours of sleep a night to function properly. Too much or too little sleep can affect healthy processing of calories and lead to visceral fat gain.
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4. Reduce Stress
An overabundance of stress interferes with health. Sleep, diet and exercise all lower stress. Life is stressful by nature. Relationships, finances, and uncertainty all induce stress. We never completely eliminate stress but we can effectively manage it. By improving relationships, finances and health, our lives flow smoother. In addition, we can also integrate other stress reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, and nature into our busy day.
A Few Words From Psychology Fanatic
We shouldn’t beat ourselves up over a few extra pounds, however, extra weight around our midsection impacts health. While I’m not a fan of fad diets, losing belly fat is an essential to wellness. We can accomplish this feat through basic wellness behaviors. In conclusion, exercise, healthy eating, proper sleep, and stress reduction are a winning combination for a healthy mind and body. And in the process, we lose belly fat as a bonus.
Collins, S. (2014). The Truth About Belly Fat. WebMD.
Landa, J. (2013). 7 tips to reduce belly fat. Fox News.
Oz, M. (2017). Lose Belly Fat: Dr. Oz’s 5 Tips For A Flatter Stomach.