There are literally HUNDREDS of scientific studies that link belly fat to a broad range of health problems: from cardiovascular disease to metabolic problems to diabetes to chronic conditions. Getting rid of belly fat will help you to avoid these problems, thus extending your lifespan.
Sadly, that particular problem of dealing with belly fat is often easier said than done. Visceral fat is much harder to burn than the fat on your legs or arms. It can take YEARS of hard work to see results, and only if you combine the three pillars of good health:
To lose belly fat, you need to reduce overall body fat. While most people think of exercise as being the way to lose fat, you have to start with a healthy diet. You can’t train away a bad diet, but a good, balanced diet will put your body in the right state to burn belly fat.
The “right diet” consists of three simple things:
More healthy fats and moderate amounts of protein. When you eat fats, you signal to your body that you are getting enough calories of fat, and thus it’s okay to burn the fat you have stored against “emergencies”. A diet rich in unsaturated fats (and some saturated fats) will encourage more effective fat burning. Add in some protein to build muscle, and you’ve got the foundation for a leaner, meaner, fat-burning machine!
Less fast carbs. Fast carbohydrates are the enemy of fat loss. Fast carbs flood your body with glucose, which is turned into fat more quickly than any amount of dietary fat. Noodles, rice, bread, flour products, baked goods and other processed carbohydrates should be reduced to a minimum to change your body from a carb-burning state to a fat-burning one. In terms of carbs that are allowed – around 25% of your daily calorie intake can come from whole fruits and veggies that will fuel your body with much needed nutrients and minerals.
As little sugar as humanly possible. Sugar is the real threat! Not only does it increase the amount of fat stored, but it also increases insulin resistance and prevents fat burning. Sugar is also primarily empty calories that don’t provide a lot of nutrients. Fructose (in fruit) is okay, but other sugars are best avoided. Cut back to as close to ZERO grams of sugar per day to see real results.
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Your diet will give your body the energy required to do exercise, and will prepare it to burn fat. Without exercise, however, all that energy will sit there useless (as stored fat) and you’ll never burn anything.
The minimum recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week, but you should strive for an hour per day, 4 to 6 days per week. More exercise means more calories burned, which leads to a faster metabolism.
What sort of exercise should you do? Your main focus should be on:
Resistance Training – Lifting weights forces your body to expand your muscles, which stores and uses more energy every day. Resistance training also gives your metabolism a boost that lasts for hours after your workout.
High Intensity Training (HIIT) – High intensity exercise also torches calories, and it will help to increase muscle growth and metabolic rate. You can also fit in a much better workout in less time.
Steady State Exercise – There’s something to be said for jogging, cycling, rowing, or elliptical training at a slower pace. Steady state exercise activates stored fats to burn for energy. Try to fit in at least two to three sessions of steady state exercise per week to encourage better fat burning overall.
Dance, play sports, play with your kids, go on walks, take hikes, climb a mountain, and walk around town. The more you move, the better! However, your primary exercise should come from the three workouts mentioned above.
Finally, your lifestyle is the final element that needs to be just right in order to see results.
A lack of sleep increases hunger pangs, raises your appetite, slows down your metabolism, and makes you more prone to snacking and emotional eating. With a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, your body will be in prime condition to burn fat.
Stress can also slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store fat rather than burn it. While there’s no way to avoid stress completely, it’s good to find ways to cope with or manage your stress.
Smoking will reduce pulmonary function and make exercise more difficult, reducing the effectiveness of your fat burning (which requires oxygen).
Drinking alcohol means a lot of empty calories, slower digestion, and a slower metabolism. With one drink per day, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Any more, and you’re entering dangerous territory.
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