Belly fat can contribute to a variety of health complications, including type 2 diabetes. While it can feel impossible sometimes, losing belly fat can be easy. It simply takes knowing how your body works, what strategies are actually effective, and how you can incorporate those strategies into a sustainable healthier lifestyle. 5 ways you can make losing belly fate easy are:
Increase Fiber Intake
Increasing fiber intake is one of the simplest, yet most effective, strategies to combating belly fat. In a study covering 1,100 adults looking to lose belly fat, it was found that for every ten grams increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat decreased in participants by 3.7% over the course of 5 years.
Soluble fiber absorbs water as it travels through the digestive system, forming a gel and slowing down the passage of food. This helps the body to absorb more nutrients from food, and it helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Higher satiety from meals works to curb snacking and leaves you feeling more satisfied after appropriately portioned meals. Smaller meals and fewer snack cravings leads to lower belly fat.
Soluble fiber is highly accessible and can be found in a vast variety of different ingredients. Fruits like pears, apples, and berries are a satisfying high-fiber snack to curb a sweet tooth. Fiber can also be found in artichoke, chia seeds, carrots, avocado, broccoli, oats, seeds, hazelnuts, lentils, and barley.
Work On Stress Reduction
One may think that their belly fat only has to do with their exercise and diet, but it can be a bit more complicated than that. According to one study, high cortisol levels within the body can ramp up appetite while increasing fat storage on the abdomen. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and prolonged uncontrolled stress can cause an overproduction of this hormone to run consistently through the body.
Cortisol is released by the body’s adrenal glands. Cortisol once had the purpose of triggering a person’s “fight or flight” response, which is supposed to be a short-term response to prepare a person for danger. The surge of energy cortisol creates was made to power a person to fight a threat, or flee from it, creating a sort of primal protection system.
The stresses people experience today in a generally safer society aren’t the same as those they experienced generations ago. Work-related stress, traffic, or a long line at the grocery store aren’t things a person can reasonably fight or flee from. However, the body still responds the same way to stresses even though those stresses have changed. Chronic stress encourages the body to flood with a consistent stream of cortisol.
Excess cortisol may cause the metabolism to slow, and it can tell the body to store fat in preparation to fight a threat or flee from a dangerous situation. One way to combat belly fat is to combat the stress that may be contributing to it. Regular exercise, yoga, meditation, self-care, or any activities that lower stress levels can also work to fight the belly fat that cortisol contributes to.
Take Up Cardio
Cardio makes good use of cortisol, it releases excess stress, and it burns calories all at the same time. In clinical trials, regular cardiovascular exercise has been proven to rid the body of excess visceral fat around the belly, although whether moderate or intensive exercise is preferred has been debated.
However, whether you prefer regular moderate exercise or more intensive exercise, about 150 to 300 minutes a week is ideal. For those who prefer intensive cardio, the 150-minute goal mark is suitable. For those who like to take things a bit more slowly with moderate exercise, the 300-minute goal may show better results.
Strength Training Is Important
When it comes to exercise, it’s not rare to have a preference between cardio and strength training. However, both work best when they’re done together. Weight training, or strength training, is important to upping endurance and stamina when carrying out cardio workouts. Regular cardio workouts put you in better shape for strength training. They work together to provide the most impact on belly fat as well as excess fat throughout the body.
In a 2014 study, it was found that study participants lost the most visceral belly fat when combining aerobic or cardiovascular exercise with regular strength training. Incorporating both cardiovascular and strength training exercise into a regular routine doesn’t mean having to both at the same time each day. One day can be reserved for cardiovascular exercise, while the next is for strength training. These exercises may also be combined, if you wish, with activities such as a light jog while carrying or wearing weights.
Focus On High Quality Sleep
Like stress reduction, many may be surprised that sleep has an impact on belly fat. According to The Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation can lead to hormonal imbalance throughout the body. The hormones leptin and ghrelin are regulated during sleep, and these are the hormones known to regulate appetite throughout the day. An imbalance in these may lead to higher food cravings, lower feelings of satiety, and a tendency to overeat during mealtimes.
It’s not just leptin and ghrelin that are impacted by poor sleep. Sleep deprivation may lead to higher levels of cortisol as well as a slowing of the metabolism. In combination with leptin and ghrelin imbalances, you may find yourself overeating, snacking, and failing to metabolize what you eat effectively. This can quickly lead to fat buildup around the abdominal area.
Lastly, a lack of quality sleep leaves you feeling exhausted throughout the day. To combat this exhaustion, the body may begin craving calories and carbohydrates to replace the energy it should have received through sleep. Snack cravings are likely to be strong, the snacks you’re craving are more likely to be unhealthy, and your body won’t metabolize these snacks as well when your sleep quality is poor.
One 16-year study, which followed 68,000 women, found that those who slept 5 hours or fewer per night were significantly more likely to struggle with belly fat than those who slept for 7 hours or more.