One of the biggest problems faced by many women who come into the gym is the accumulation of fat around the middle, especially on the belly. You can reduce belly fat and get those flat abs everyone wants, but it takes more than just exercise to do it. Belly fat is viscous fat, which is the unhealthiest type of fat that’s also the toughest to eliminate. Getting rid of it means making several lifestyle changes.
Start with a program of healthy eating.
Healthy eating isn’t dieting, but you’ll achieve your proper weight when you do it. It means eating more whole foods and eliminating processed foods that contain harmful substances, like preservatives and other additives, but very little fiber or nutrition. Healthy food, such as fresh vegetables and fruit, is high in fiber, which can help improve your digestive system and eliminate some of the bloating. Cutting out food high in sugar is also important. Don’t forget that what you drink makes a huge difference. Even diet soft drinks have been proven to add inches around the middle and accumulate belly fat.
While there’s no way to do spot exercises that just makes the fat disappear around the belly, exercising does take the weight off your entire body and tones your muscles to give you a slimmer appearance. Focus on complex exercises that get more muscles involved. Strength training is another way to burn huge amounts of calories, just as HIIT—high intensity interval training—is. While doing abdominal exercises will help tone your muscles, so will doing HIIT resistance workouts or using kettlebells. The key is losing weight. No matter how great your abs are, if they’re covered with a layer of fat, nobody will see them.
Cut out the stress.
One benefit of exercise that people often fail to acknowledge is that it burns off the hormones of stress. Stress can actually cause the accumulation of belly fat. That’s right! Cortisol, one of the hormones produced by stress has been associated with the accumulation of fat on the abdomen. Not only should you workout regularly to burn off stress, consider ways to deal with stress before it affects you, such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Eat more lean protein. Studies show that people who eat more lean protein tend to have less belly fat than those that don’t. Protein increases your metabolism and makes you feel full longer.
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep messes with the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. It increases the hunger hormones and reduces the ones that give a feeling of satiety.
- Drink plenty of water. Not only will extra water help flush your system, it can also satisfy hunger pangs. Often people mistake feeling thirsty for being hungry, which can cause an increase in caloric intake. Drinking cold water actually burns calories without adding any.
- Studies show that adding apple cider vinegar to your daily diet may actually reduce belly fat. In one study, men who drank a tablespoon in a glass of water daily reduced their waistline by a half inch in a twelve week period without any other changes.