Abdominal fat (belly fat) is often the target of many diet and exercise products, and I have good news and bad news to share on this subject. First, the bad news: there is currently no magic diet or exercise to reduce belly fat. However, the good news is that, based on years of research, we know when you lose weight, you’re much more likely to lose it in your midsection first.
So, if reducing belly fat is your goal, you need to lose weight. At the risk of sounding simplistic, here’s the best way: decrease your calorie intake and increase your physical activity. However, beyond that, there are some specific things you can do to target and trim your waistline. Although they are not magical, they can be very effective.
Fiber Helps Fight Belly Fat
Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet has been shown to help reduce the build-up of visceral (belly) fat. Results from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s 2011 research study show that adding 10 grams of soluble fiber per day was enough to make a difference. Eating two small apples, a cup of green peas or ½ cup of navy beans would accomplish this goal. Other ways to increase fiber in your diet include choosing brown or wild rice instead of white, using high fiber breads and grains, and five or more servings of whole fruits and fresh vegetables per day.
Understand the Fats You May Be Consuming
Not all fat is the same when it comes to our body. We know that a high-fat diet contributes to excess calories, but Wake Forest researchers found that trans fat (or partially hydrogenated fat) increases the amount of fat around the belly and redistributes fat tissue to the abdomen from other parts of the body. Trans fats are found in many foods such as margarine, cookies, crackers, pastries, pies and other snack and convenience foods. In addition to trans fat, watch out for saturated fat and reduce the amount fast food items you consume. Reading labels and the nutrition information provided by many restaurants is the best way to monitor the type and amount of fat in your diet.
Effects of Beer and Green Tea: Fact or Fiction?
Alcohol does seem to have an association with an increased waistline. In addition to the extra calories (about 100 calories per ounce), alcohol also increases hunger by affecting hormones that regulate a sense of satiety. W
hat about green tea? According to the Journal of Nutrition Research, green tea, in combination with exercise, could help you lose weight. Catechins, a substance found in green tea, seems to stimulate the body to burn more calories and enhance loss of belly fat. Of course, drinking green tea with your large order of fries and triple-stack hamburger probably would not be the best diet plan. However, adding green tea to a sensible meal plan that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich grains and lean proteins – all combined with regular exercise – may facilitate additional weight loss and reduction of belly fat.
Stress Management and Sleep
Finally, it’s important to mention two other factors that aid in controlling abdominal fat:
- Take steps to reduce or manage how you deal with stress
- Make sure you get the at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Stress management and sleep – together with eating habits that incorporate fiber and minimize trans and saturated fats and a regular exercise regimen – help round out a solid plan for shrinking you waistline. Let me know how this works for you!
Live in Canton, Massillon or elsewhere in Stark or surrounding counties and need additional support in your weight loss journey? Mercy can help! Contact our weight management team for more information.