6 Ways To Bust Belly Fat
That pesky belly fat is most people’s last problem area when on their weight-loss journeys. Even thinner individuals may experience some of that belly fat, which is commonly referred to as “skinny fat.” Below are some reasons that may be holding you back from shedding that fat.
1. Lack of Exercise
Lean muscle helps burn fat. So while belly fat can be avoided without exercise, the more muscle you build and gain from your exercise routine will help you shred body fat at a faster rate. Strive for 3-5 days of at least 30 minutes of activity to start. Some specific exercises that will target this area include the X-Pattern Toe Touch and a healthy dose of cardio. However, don’t overdo the cardio as too much can start to break down muscle tissue, which is the exact OPPOSITE of what we want!
2. Excess Sugar
Science shows that there is a strong link between insulin resistance and belly fat. Uncontrolled blood sugar is the cause for insulin resistance, so controlling blood sugars is key. Cutting out excess sugar is crucial to stave off belly fat. Some foods naturally have sugar, such as, fruit, so fore-go the extra sprinkle of sugar if you are looking to show off those rock-hard abs. A great swap is regular fruit for fruit juices, which are just huge culprits for added sugar on top of natural sugar. Go for more natural alternatives like honey (yes it has sugar, but not at as high of levels as regular table sugar).
3. Excessive Drinking
Alcohol tends to have an appetite-stimulating effect, which usually leads to over-eating. This is very counteractive in your attempt to create those beach-ready abs. Alcohol is also just a source of empty calories (lots of calories with little to no nutritional benefit). If you do feel the desire to have an adult beverage, try to leave out as many of the mixers as possible, which are usually just sugar-laden and increase the calorie content.
4. Eating When Stressed
Stress causes the production of cortisol, better known as the stress hormone, and excessive cortisol production tends to increase appetite and store more body fat. Stress also causes overeating. So just take a deep breath, relax, and don’t drive yourself crazy obsessing over the abs you may or may not have. Don’t let other stressors get you down, such as, work, relationships, school, etc. and find a way to release that stress, such as, yoga, CrossFit, meditation, etc.
5. Lack of Sleep
Cortisol levels increase with lack of sleep. For further explanation, see point #4.
6. Not Enough Protein
Protein helps level off blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates. Remember how important it is to control those blood sugar levels (point #2). Many experts agree that increasing protein is one of the most important factors in reducing belly fat. So stick to the lean proteins, such as, chicken, turkey, eggs and some fish. You can also find non-animal protein sources, such as, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, beans and nuts.
by Samantha Coogan, MS, RDN, LD