If you’re carrying more fat around your waist and upper belly than you’d like, counting calories isn’t your only recourse. While diet and exercise remain key elements in weight management, eradicating those last few inches of upper belly fat is a bit more complicated. Because lifestyle choices, heredity and hormonal fluctuations influence your proclivity to carry fat tissue around your middle, for best results, consider a holistic approach that addresses every aspect of your life.
Commit to an aerobic exercise program. While situps and other spot exercises will help to make your body strong, they won’t have much impact on visceral fat. What does work, though, is movement. Sedentary adults who engaged in exercise equivalent to 12 miles of jogging per week lost more belly fat than those who performed strength training, according to researchers from Duke University Medical Center.
Cut back on the carbs and include plenty of monounsaturated fats in your daily diet. While avocados and olive oil aren’t low-cal, they are fat-burners that help to reduce belly fat. Choose a cup of green tea and a few macadamia nuts for your mid-day snack and get an energy boost that will also help dissolve that belly fat.
Swap your plastic water bottle for a stainless steel container. While it’s widely acknowledged that the Bisphenol A in plastics and canned goods is harmful to your health, the toxin is also associated with obesity and increased belly fat in the adult population. Store your food in glass storage containers and switch to bamboo cooking utensils to reduce your exposure to BPA. (See Reference 4)
Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with higher concentrations of belly fat because it inhibits the function of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. When you’re not well-rested, you are likely to consume more calories to compensate for your lack of energy.
Learn how to relax. Whether you are stressing about work or your belly fat, unmitigated stress keeps the hormone cortisol at high levels, inhibiting fat-burn and propelling you to the cookie jar for a sugar fix. Choose a relaxation technique that works for you, and commit it to daily practice.
- Subcutaneous fat -- such as love handles -- is more difficult to eliminate than the more dangerous visceral fat that responds more quickly to a weight-loss diet.
- Both yoga and Pilates will help to elongate your body and strengthen your core -- a great way to rev up your metabolism and reduce your BMI.
- Harvard Health Publications: Abdominal Fat and What To Do About It
- DukeHealth.org: Aerobic Exercise Bests Resistance Training at Burning Belly Fat
- Body Ecology: The 6 Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats
- National Institutes of Health: Urinary Bisphenol A and Obesity
- Chicago Dietetic Association: Stress, Sleep, & Stubborn Belly Fat
- Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images