A flat tummy isn’t just about the aesthetic appeal, it’s an important indicator of how healthy you’re going to be. While excess fat on any part of your body isn’t good, belly fat in particular is very dangerous. Deep visceral fat has been linked to a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and even depression. One way to check if your belly fat is above the healthy limit, is to measure the widest part of your waist and the widest part of your hips. If they’re the same or if your waist is bigger than your hips, you’re carrying way too much belly fat. Losing just 10% of this fat will make a significant difference to your health. However, belly fat isn’t just dangerous, it’s also notoriously difficult to lose. If you feel like you’re losing the war against belly fat, it might just be because you’re not doing it the right way. These six strategies have been proven to burn belly fat and bring about a positive change in your health.
1. Balance Is Key
Contrary to popular belief, it’s your diet and not how much you exercise that will help you burn belly fat. For most people, a bad diet is the reason why they started gaining belly fat in the first place. As part of your new flat-belly diet, you’re going to have to include a healthy mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. While the exact amounts vary for each person, a balanced diet is usually made up of 45% carbs, 25% protein and 30% healthy fats. Stay away from diets which advocate giving up entire food groups, because they will not be easy to stick to in the long run. Losing fat means changing your lifestyle for good, not just until you get to your goal weight.
2. Choose Your Carbs Carefully
Carbohydrates aren’t the big bad monster they’ve been made out to be. They are essential sources of fuel which your body needs to function properly. However, not all carbs are good for your health. Carbs can be broadly divided into complex and simple carbs. Complex carbs are unrefined and take much longer for your body to break down. Because they don’t break down into sugar very fast, they keep your blood sugar levels low. High blood sugar has been linked to increased belly fat, so unrefined carbs will prevent you from gaining weight around your middle. They also contain more fiber, which means you will end up eating much less than you normally would. Refined carbs on the other hand, spike your blood sugar and fill you with empty calories. Swapping out all your refined carbs for complex whole grains is the most important step you can take.
3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Fat
It might sound like a paradox, but eating fat will actually help you lose fat. Monounsaturated fats are the good fats we need to eat more of. They’re found in olive oil avocados, flax seeds and fatty fish like salmon. One study on the effects of monounsaturated fats, divided participants into two groups. While one group was fed a diet that included healthy fat sources, the other was kept on a strict low-fat, high-carb diet. At the end of the study, the first group lost significantly more weight from their upper body than the second group did. If you’re trying to lose weight around your belly, don’t hesitate to include healthy fats from your diet. The one fat to avoid at all costs however, are trans fats. Trans fats have absolutely no health benefits and are almost impossible to lose. As long as you’re eating healthy sources of fats in moderation, you should start seeing a change in your measurements.
4. Guzzle Down Dairy
Dairy might be maligned for a lot of reasons these days, but it could actually help you lose belly fat. Research shows that people who consume a lot of dairy everyday lose 61% more fat than people who don’t. While they aren’t sure exactly why this happens, one possible reason could be because it lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone produced by our body when we feel stressed. High levels of cortisol leads to more accumulation of fat around our waist. By lowering cortisol levels, dairy could also help you lose the fat you’re storing around your belly. If you’re lactose intolerant, try eating yogurt. It’s much easier to break down and will give you your daily dairy boost.
5. Stop Smoking
If you aren’t quitting smoking despite the threat of cancer looming over you, at least do it for the sake of a flat belly. Most smokers have a lower BMI than non-smokers, but they carry around a lot more visceral fat. Even if your overall weight is healthy, high amounts of belly fat could still put you at a higher risk for many diseases. You cannot cancel the effects of smoking with a healthy diet or plenty of exercise. If you’re still smoking, it’s time you quit for good.
6. Choose The Right Exercise
When you’re trying to lose belly fat, don’t make the mistake of choosing exercises that target only that area. Doing a hundred stomach crunches everyday will not get rid of belly fat. Choose exercises that include a wide range of motions. Make sure your workout routine emphasizes on cardio because this is is the most effective way to burn belly fat. Even outside the gym, try to get in as much physical activity as you can. Take the stairs whenever you can, try cycling to work and take long walks every day.