CAUSES OF BELLY FAT
Belly fat is caused by different things for both men and women. For women, they are more likely to gain excess belly fat deep inside the belly as they go through perimenopause and into menopause. That’s because as estrogen levels drop, body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs, and butt to the abdomen. For men, it's a similar story. As they age, the natural reduction of testosterone means calories are often stores as fat, causing the aptly named 'beer belly'.
However, researchers have found that cortisol secretion might represent a connection between stress and belly fat. So that high stress job may actually be making you fat! (See: 10 Worst Eating Habits You Need To Break Now)
NOT ALL FATS ARE THE SAME
Before we get into how to lose 'belly fat' we need to understand what the various types of fat are, and what they do:
Structural Fat: This is the fat that fills in the gaps between various organs. It has an important role in protecting, or 'bedding' the kidneys in a soft elastic tissue. It also protects the coronary arteries and keeps the skin smooth and taut.
Essential Fat Reserves: Your fat reserves are essentially the normal reserve of fuel used when the body is facing dietary insufficiencies like a low-calorie diet. These reserves are found all over your body, and not centralized.
Belly Fat: The moment we've all been waiting for... Belly fat. Both structural and essential fats are normal, and important to our body, however, belly fat is abnormal and completely useless, as well as incredibly difficult to get rid of. Belly fat is essentially a fat reserve for the body, however, unlike your fat reserves, is not available for your body to consume in times of emergency. The worst part about belly fat is that it slows down your metabolic system causing you to retain more fat than you need. (See: 7 Metabolism Myths Busted)
REDUCING BELLY FAT THROUGH: DIET
Before you start dieting, there is one GOLDEN RULE that you MUST follow... that is to NOT start decreasing your fat intake. Not all fats are bad, and in fact, eating certain fats can help you reduce belly fat.
Make sure you are eating fish, avocados, olives and other sources of Omega-3. It has been seen that you can lose 2.2 lbs more weight in a month by including these essential fats (specifically x3 5-oz servings of salmon) every week.
Three tips to get started:
- STOP Drinking diet drinks, as they greatly contributes to belly fat – It sort of goes against what the name promises doesn't it? So cut them out. The high fructose in these drinks is causing you more harm than good.
- Apple cider vinegar is a great way to kick-start your metabolism and get belly fat moving. The acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat.
- As you age, your body starts to produce more insulin. This increase in insulin causes fat storage, especially around the belly. A high protein diet can protect you against insulin resistance, thus decreasing belly fat.
Want to have that shredded 6 pack look, stand up taller, and have better posture? Skip the crunches and sit-ups. If you're storing belly fat, you won't see your abs, and the increased bulk of these muscles may make your belly look bigger than it is. Instead opt for strengthening your back. Your posture will improve and pull in your belly.
Three ab exercises to get started:
- Side stretches: Stand up straight, with your feet hip-width apart. Put your right hand on your right hip, and lift your left arm straight up, with the palm facing right. Keeping your legs centered, lean to the right and “reach” over with your left arm, stretching your left side. Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
- Squats: Stand with your feet about 8 inches (20 cm) apart. Extend your arms in front of you and do four sets of 15-20 squats. (See: 6 Things That Happen When You Start Doing Squats)
- Planks: Get in the push-up position, but rest on your elbows and forearms. Pull your stomach muscles in tight, keeping your back, neck, and bottom in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Rest and repeat 3-5 times. (See: 7 Things That Happen When You Start Doing Planks)