If there is one frustration that is common among all of us, it’s the struggle with belly fat. Whether you have a tiny little lip hanging over your belt, or a full-blown spare tire, it’s a frustration we all share.
While we can’t necessarily program our bodies to shed fat specifically where we’d like them too, there are some things we can do that will encourage our middles to dwindle.
Without a doubt, the most important factor when it comes to losing fat is a clean diet. You could run a marathon a day, but if your nutrition were a mess, you’d still be jiggling that spare tire.
Processed foods are high in sugar and most contain dangerous trans fats. They should not just be limited; they should be entirely avoided if losing belly fat is one of your goals.
Studies have shown that a diet high in trans fats is likely to increase weight gain even if the calories are kept within a range suitable for weight loss. Most of the increased weight was gained in the abdomen both as unattractive subcutaneous fat and dangerous visceral fat. This just proves that not all calories are created equal.
Snack foods like cookies, crackers, chips and microwave popcorn are often loaded with trans fats.
In addition to the trans fats, processed foods are often high in sugar. An excess amount of sugar not only carries empty calories, it also has detrimental effects on insulin levels. When simple carbs like these snacks are consumed, insulin levels rise dramatically in an effort to shuttle the so-called nutrients to fat stores. Consistently high insulin levels are associated with increased weight, predominantly stored as abdominal fat.
Of course calories count when it comes to weight loss. You can cut out fat completely and you can drastically restrict carbs but if your calorie consumption is over the limit, you’re not going to lose weight.
An appropriate amount of calories will range vastly depending on gender, age, size, muscle mass and genetics of the dieter. Once you discover the number of daily calories that suits your weight loss goals, make sure you keep them balanced in all macronutrients. Complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fat choices all consisting of real, whole food choices will keep your body and your belly energized and satisfied.
One of the most common ways people derail their weight loss goal is by failing to plan properly timed meals and snacks. While you don’t necessarily need to feed yourself six or seven times a day, you do want to keep nutrition consistent throughout the day. This will maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels and avoid hunger and the irritable, lethargic feeling that accompanies it.
Planning is key when it comes to diet. Aim for 3 meals per day and 2 snacks, spaced appropriately apart. A proper breakfast, lunch and dinner with a mid morning and late afternoon snack will put you on the right track.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The most powerful tool you can use to fight belly fat is high intensity interval training. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between intense workouts and a reduction in fat, specifically abdominal fat.
In comparison to long bouts of steady state cardio, short duration, high intensity workouts lead to an increase in both fitness capacity and fat loss. While a greater number of calories may possibly be used in the long duration, moderate intensity cardio workouts, the fat burning shuts off as soon as the work stops.
With interval training, the fat burning continues for many hours after the workout adding up calories over the long term. Even though an interval workout may only take 20 minutes as opposed to a 40 or even 60-minute steady state session, the fat burning potential is far greater. It should be noted that it’s not just any fat being used. Interval training burns a large ratio of belly fat specifically.
A study performed by the University of Pennsylvania, followed a group of 24 to 44 year old women for 2 years. The group of obese women were split into 2 groups. One was offered only advice regarding exercise, the other was prescribed a one-hour weight training workout twice weekly. The weight training group lost nearly 4 percent of their body fat, including dangerous visceral fat.
Once again, we have evidence that a resistance training program, coupled with high intensity interval training is by far the most effective way to work out if you hope to lose fat.
Losing weight isn’t easy. To be successful you have to change bad habits and mindsets that may have been following you your whole life. The social support we receive from family, friends and co-workers should not be underestimated. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, the same can be said for weight loss and body transformation.
Calling upon as many resources as possible will only improve motivation and help you get through those tough times. When you just don’t feel like getting out of bed for your workout, or when that piece of cheesecake is calling your name, a supportive friend, spouse, co-worker or trainer can keep you on the right track.
Perhaps you have a friend that wants to lose weight with you, or your spouse is willing to push through some workouts together. You could confide in someone at work that will kindly remind you of your goals when stresses of the job get in the way. Your kids can act as cheerleaders. The more support you can muster up, the more successful you are likely to be.
If you don´t have people close to you that would make a positive support system or you just want to add more ammunition to your efforts, there are numerous ways to get that online. Weight loss support groups and forums are plentiful online and can be tremendously beneficial.
Not only will you find the continuous, positive, motivating support you need, you’ll also have a place to vent frustrations, discuss obstacles, hear other inspiring stories of success and feel connected to people that are facing the same challenges as yourself.