Stubborn Belly Fat? 6 Tips to Shed Those Pounds

Belly fat does more than make it difficult to zip your jeans, it can have serious health consequences. While belly fat is completely normal, even for those with abs, an excess amount can have a negative effect on your health in ways other fat cannot.

Belly fat is comprised of more than just the visible layer of padding located right under the skin (subcutaneous fat), it also includes visceral fat. Visceral fat lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs. Although this type of fat is not visible, it is associated with far more serious health consequences and can be linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colorectal cancers, according to Mayo Clinic.

Luckily, the risks connected to belly fat can be trimmed with the help of a few diet and exercise tips and tricks.

Reduce carbs instead of fats

A six-month study conducted by John Hopkins Medicine found that those on low-carbohydrate diets lost an average of 10 pounds more than those on low-fat diets while consuming the same amount of calories. The low-carb diet also produced a higher quality of weight loss, yielding a higher fat-loss percentage, as both groups lost 2 to 3 pounds of lean muscle. Although the low-fat diet was less effective, you should still limit saturated fats, such as those found in meat and high-fat dairy products. Saturated fats can be substituted with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils.

Focus on a sustainable eating plan, not diet

Diets come and go, but creating a healthy, sustainable eating plan – that you can stick to – will help facilitate long-term weight loss. A benefit of the low-carb approach is that counting calories is not as necessary, as it naturally pulls you away from problem foods.

Exercise

Everyone’s least favorite tip: the importance of cardiovascular and strength training. While exercises such as sit-ups can firm up ab muscles, they will not get rid of belly fat. Unfortunately, spot reducing – exercising a certain part of your body to reduce fat in that area – is not possible. Instead, focus on two areas of exercise:

Cardiovascular:

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults engage in moderate aerobic activity for 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 75 minutes a week. Moderate activity includes, but is not limited to, activities such as walking, hiking, gardening and bicycling. Vigorous activity includes, but is not limited to, activities such as running or jogging, swimming and speed-walking.

Strength:

It is recommended to engage in two to three non-consecutive days of strength training per week. Strength training increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR), allowing the body to burn fat at a higher rate during your workout and, more importantly, long after.

Consult your physician before beginning a new workout program.

Read labels

It is important to compare and contrast brands by reading their ingredient labels before making a purchase. A brand that touts they are low-fat could contain higher amounts of carbs and sugars than other brands. Labels to take note of are snack and processed foods. Often, these foods contain high amounts of trans fats, added sugar and added sodium – three ingredients that hinder weight loss.

Focus on the way clothes fit, not what the scale reads

It is frustrating when you are working to lose weight, but the number on the scale stays steady. But, what the scale reads is not the most important part of a weight loss journey. As you are losing fat, you are also gaining muscle. As muscle is heavier than fat, it can create a sense of doubt when those scale numbers do not budge. Instead, focus on the way clothes fit or the physical changes you see in your body. However, if you are numbers focused, keep track of your measurements and watch those numbers get smaller and smaller.

Find fitness and food friends

Research shows that you are more inclined to stick to your fitness and healthy eating goals when you surround yourself with those who are also attempting to live a healthier lifestyle. So find that friend or encourage someone you know to join your journey.

Remember, losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on shedding those pounds at a slow and steady pace – 1 to 2 pounds a week – for healthy, long-lasting weight loss.