Researches and statistics show that belly fat is a harmful condition, a harbinger of many diseases to come. Though belly fat in itself is not an illness, it can lead to several undesirable health conditions including diabetes, heart ailments, some forms of cancer, hormonal issues and more. Moreover, a bulging belly can be extremely unattractive. Thus, combating belly fat becomes important.
Belly fat can be controlled and eliminated more easily if action is taken in its beginning stages. Like any health condition, timely attention is essential to tackle belly fat. However, even those who have been contending with belly fat for long need not despair. They can take steps and get back in shape with some extra effort.
What causes belly fat?
Belly fat or abdominal fat has been primarily attributed to two factors, improper diet and lack of exercise. Some other factors that contribute to belly fat include stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, some diseases and so on. It is important to understand that though there are many causes for belly fat accumulation, the root cause boils down to incorrect food and exercise habits. Naturally, correcting the diet pattern and getting enough exercise can reverse the buildup of belly fat.
How does diet help in belly fat reduction?
Belly fat forms because there are excess calories in the body. The body converts any extra calories it is unable to burn, into fat. Just like we put away money for a rainy day, the body stores the excess calories in the cells, to be used up later if required. Unfortunately, this process often goes overboard. The fat simply keeps accumulating, never getting used up! The waist sizes soar and in no time people find themselves battling uncouth and unhealthy belly fat!
Now, the question is how to correct the diet so that excess calories are avoided. The logical idea is to eat just as much as the body can burn. Another critical thing to remember is alternating between feasting and fasting is not a great idea. The body needs a constant supply of fuel (read food) and we need to provide that at a gentle pace, never overdoing it.
Foods that are rich in fiber are highly recommended for reducing belly fat. Why? There are two reasons behind this. One is, when we eat high-fiber foods, our tummies feel satiated sooner and remain so for longer periods. This means the quantity of food we eat and the frequency of our meals are brought down. This in turn translates into a lowered calorie input! Second, fibrous food shows a better tendency to break down accumulated fat particles. Thus, a fiber rich diet can help in combating fat deposits.
A diet that has slow-burning carbohydrates is also advised in the fight against belly fat. When we eat whole grains and food items containing carbohydrates that are steadily broken down, the supply of energy to the body also becomes stable. On the other hand, high sugar foods give us a fuel surge for a short while. Then, it is back to food cravings and more eating.
A proper diet should be wholesome; it should provide all the required nutrition. We cannot afford to lose out on important nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, good fat and more. Therefore, foods which can supply all these nutrients at lower fat levels should be included in the daily diet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unsaturated oils, low fat/ fat-free dairy are prescribed for bringing down abdominal fat. Plenty of water and a few cups of green tea a day are also highly thought of, in belly fat reduction.
What is the role of exercise in eliminating belly fat?
Exercise has three primary benefits. First, it burns excess calories and helps to break down the accumulated fat. Second, it stimulates blood circulation and optimizes the functioning of all the organs in the body. Third, exercise has a remarkable role in bringing down stress levels and keeping depression at bay. Thus it becomes clear that exercise is vital in the crusade against belly fat.
Again, just like diet cannot fluctuate between extremes, workouts too cannot swing from intense exercising to lazing. Our exercise schedules should be regular. This ensures that the body does not have any extra calories to handle and the stored up fat is burnt a little at a time, every day. Intense exercising could lead to injuries and fatigue. This could in turn cause the workouts to be abandoned for some time. And it is well-known that once we lose steam, the entire exercise regimen could come to an abrupt halt and we might have to begin all over again. Lazing for a few days could also prove disastrous; we may not find the motivation to get back into the exercising track in a hurry! That is why an easy but effective exercise schedule, which we can follow regularly, is most important.
We can take up exercising in any form. It depends on our likes, age, present health condition, current fitness level, gym and other facilities close to where we live, time we can dedicate and so on. Walking, jogging, running and swimming are commonly preferred. Some people like hitting the gym and working out on equipment meant for strength training and resistance training. Playing outdoor sports is another great exercise option. Outdoor hobbies such as trekking, rowing, gardening, carpentry and other activities are also excellent ways to keep ourselves active. Yoga is an all-round exercise option. It energizes our entire system that is the mind, body and soul. We could go for one or more of these workout options to successfully combat belly fat.
One point to remember is that without effort there can be no success. No effort is complete without a proper planning. To trim down bellies, we have to plan our diet and exercise schedules first. Then we have to stick to our plans. All along the way, we have to measure our progress and make any required changes in the plans. We should remind ourselves that battling belly fat is not a one-time affair but an ongoing journey!