Staying in shape is something that seems to be on everyone’s mind in the modern world taken over by social media.
Ask most people and one of the most frustrating areas of their bodies is their bellies. Belly fat is slightly different than other fat deposits on the body – it is called visceral fat.
These pesky “tires” of fat are actually early indicators of health issues leading to increased risks such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer markers, strokes, metabolic imbalances and other serious health conditions.
It is where the truth speaks – of your lifestyle choices, be it that cheeky glass of wine, cold beer with your mates, a few cubes of cheeses, that little square of chocolate and those birthday cupcakes passed around in the office.
Eliminate fast and junky food
Sure, it may be quick, easy and perhaps tasty to pick up that cheesy pizza or burger with fries but think twice as it can be a disaster for your diet and belly fat-burning plans. The nasty combination of saturated fats, grease, and unwanted triglycerides found in fast food is precisely what you don’t want in your body if you’re trying to burn calories and reduce visceral fat, so whilst it might be tempting, cutting out fast food has to be the top of your list.
Eat your CCCs – Celery, Cucumbers, Cabbage. During my bikini-bodybuilding contest prep days, I always turn to “Cindy’s triple Cs”
Low-calorie, ‘free’ food with high nutritional value, packed with dietary fiber, water content, minerals and essential vitamins. Celery, cucumbers and cabbage can fill you up and optimize your metabolism and fill you up with minimum calories. Knock yourself out with these items and look for interesting ways to eat them – blended in juices or smoothies, chopped up finely to be hidden in eggwhite omelettes, spiralized into ‘veggie-hetti”, finely chopped in soups, julienned into veggie sticks served with interesting low-cal dips such as eggplant (babaganoush), beetroot, chickpeas (hummus – but watch out for too much tahini or olive oil!), use your imagination to meet your RDI of 5 servings of vegetables daily.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated Fats
Eating the right kinds of fats is crucial if you want to cut down on your belly fat. Some fats will only contribute more to visceral fat, such as saturated fats, but if consumed in calculated and measured amounts of polyunsaturated fats, like those typically found in seeds and nuts (preferred sources are flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts), and certain types of fish (deep-sea, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna), you can benefit from their anti-inflammatory potential and cholesterol-balancing activities that can assist in reducing your visceral fat levels. Funnily enough, your body actually needs fat to burn fat.
Gone are the days of the 90s low-fat diet. Sugar is the modern day culprit. Funnily enough, your body actually needs fat to burn fat. Gone were the days of the 90s low-fat diet. Sugar is the modern day culprit.
A sedentary lifestyle is highly associated with visceral fat, not only because it usually means a lack of physical exercise, but also because its associated with lower metabolic levels, higher intake of unhealthy food, and psychological effects such as stress, a lack of motivation, and guilt. By staying active as much as possible (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, standing up while working, or taking a bike to work), you can keep your physical and mental energy high, preventing the development of belly fat. Incorporate incidental exercise in your daily routine and invest in a wearable fitness-tracking timepiece to keep your steps and elevation on record!
Get your beauty sleep
Research has shown that regulating your sleep scheduled and ensuring that you get more than 6 hours per night of sleep can help you reduce your visceral fat stores. However, if you turn around and sleep in two days a week (Saturday and Sunday), it can add to your visceral fat. Essentially, make a firm sleep pattern to stick by, but don’t let your body get too lazy on your days off. Regularity in your Circadian rhythms and metabolic cycles will be helpful for keeping belly fat in check.
Combining Workout Styles
While many people think that cardiovascular workouts are the best possible way to burn belly fat, combining your sweat interests is actually a better way to quickly lose belly fat. When you do weight training in between cardio exercising, that high-intensity exercise can cause your metabolism to shoot up, burning more fat more quickly. Alternating workout styles and physical demands on your body can keep your metabolism “on its toes”, operating at a high level, even burning fat when you’re not working out!
Studies have shown that both men and women have seen significant reductions in visceral fat stores when adding some down-time to their workout and health regimens. Meditation and Yoga promote flexibility and eliminates excess stress hormones from your body, namely cortisol. There is a direct link between chronic stress, cortisol levels, and belly fat, so clear your mind, calm down and carry on.
Needless to say, drink at least 1-2 liters of water daily to keep hydrated, detoxify, your brains sharp and helping you feel fuller! The actual amount of consumption depends on your activity levels and your vital stats.
It might not sound pleasant, but anecdotal evidence says that zero-calorie vinegar can actually be an effective means of burning belly fat. Drinking a dollop of apple cider vinegar or plain white vinegar can help detox and reduce visceral fat, and while the research on this is somewhat limited, it is believed that the acids in vinegar stimulate the production of certain amino acids that burn visceral fat.
As usual, choose unfiltered organic ones. Braggs and Field Day make good organic apple cider vinegar.
High Dietary Fiber
Any foods with high concentrations of dietary fiber can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, balance HDL/LDL (good to bad ratio) of cholesterol, regulate your digestive system, and optimize your nutrient intake, all of which can help improve the metabolism and burn more belly fat.
Cut Out Starch
Starch is a major source of empty calories that can easily be translated into visceral fat due to its high-calorie content and sugar starches. If you’re a big pasta, white bread, potatoes, rice, refined wheat eater, put those to the side if you’re trying to burn belly fat.
Grab a handful of leafy greens such as baby spinach or cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussel sprouts instead. If you must have it, portion control. You shouldn’t have more than 2-3 oz per serve, make it a small side dish rather than the main course. Always choose unprocessed, unrefined carbs over white and processed carbs.
Eat Smaller Meals Slower
By eating smaller meal portions, and consuming them slower, will allow your body time to process what it is taking in before releasing those enzymes that tell the body it’s “full”. Also, smaller portions allow you to eat more meals per day, which keeps your metabolism and digestive system active and engaged for longer, which is great for burning belly fat!
Push Yourself Physically: Somewhat related to the combining exercise style advice, pushing yourself past the normal “threshold” is a great way to burn belly fat. If you regularly work out, but hardly break a sweat and don’t feel “challenged”, then your body probably won’t respond by charging its metabolism and burning those visceral fat cells. However, surprising your body with varied workout styles AND intensities, beyond what you normally do, can kick-start your system very quickly.
Disrupt Your Routine: Eating the same types of food at the exact same time of day or exercising the same old routines can cause your body to fall into an unwanted predictability. Occasionally, you need to experiment consuming different foods, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, organic compounds, etc. in order to keep your metabolism flexible and your system dynamic and responsive.
If you can handle a bit of heat, adding chili and spice can also rev up your digestion and burn a few more calories. Small amounts of caffeine found in green tea (as well as catchetins, fat-burning antioxidant compound) and organic fair-trade coffee are fine to get you through your busy day.
See you in the gym!