It may not be the most pleasant title for a blog, but belly fat is something that most of us know about. Many of us may even have fought our own battles with it over the years.
It might be something that genuinely worries you – it can, in some instances be linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes after all – or its appearance may just be the first indication for you that it’s time to hit the gym again!
Spare tyre, jelly belly, mummy tummy… whatever term of endearment you apply to the middle section of your body, chances are that your relationship with it has, at some point, caused you frustration.
What’s with the growing waist line?
There are two types of belly fat: -
Visceral – the fat which builds up around vital organs like the liver and is associated with an increased risk of chronic disease - type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various cancers, to name just a few of those most commonly linked to it
Subcutaneous – probably what most of us would recognise as ‘having a tummy’ as it is the fat that sits directly under the skin. A certain amount is perfectly natural – after all, it offers a natural layer of protection for our organs, but a high amount is known to lead to health problems
It’s an area of our body where fat seems to stubbornly hang around
There are certainly a number of things you can do to help to reduce belly fat, here are just a few: -
1. Embrace Soluble Fibre
Soluble fibre is a good all-rounder. As well as making you feel fuller, it also slows down the passage of food through your system and reduces calorie absorption. Soluble fibre is found in many foods, including avocados, Brussel sprouts and blackberries.
2. Dodge the Trans Fats
The negative health effects of trans (or partially hydrogenated) fats have been known for some time now. Their presence in diets has been linked to inflammation and even heart disease, but they are also known to cause an increase in abdominal fat gain.
3. Banish ‘Booze Binges’
The link between alcohol consumption and belly fat is slightly complicated in that it’s more about total units consumed rather than daily intake (i.e. a small amount daily is better than a significant amount in one day). That said, alcohol is known to be high in calories so any reduction at all can only be a good thing!
4. Keep up the Cardio
Cardio or aerobic exercise is known to be a great way to burn calories. When it comes to shedding belly fat, the general consensus seems to be that it’s about the total amount of exercise undertaken rather than individual sessions. Of course, there’s always the opportunity to add a few moves to your routine which specifically target the tummy area.
5. Focus on Sleep and Stress
Perhaps not quite as obvious, but lack of sleep and high-stress levels are both linked with weight gain and expanding waistlines. When it comes to sleep, it’s as much about quality as quantity (at least 7 hours high-quality sleep is optimum) and with stress it’s hormonal – stress triggers your body to produce cortisol which is known to increase appetite and increase fat storage so no stress is best!