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In addition to improving your appearance and boosting your self-esteem and self-confidence, reducing abdominal fat also improves your health. A waist circumference greater than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women increases the risk of medical conditions and diseases. According to Mayo Clinic, those with this waist circumference are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and stroke. To avoid health problems, reduce your belly fat and make regular exercise and a healthy diet part of your lifestyle. If you have a medical condition, see your doctor before adjusting your diet or starting a new exercise regimen.
Doing hundreds of crunches strengthens your abdominals, but isn't going to reduce your belly fat. Spot reduction, in which you lose fat from only one part of the body, is not possible. To lose that jiggling belly, you must lose fat from your entire body through diet and exercise. Rather than losing weight quickly, aim for gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a maintainable, healthy weight-loss rate. A daily deficit of 500 calories results in weight loss of 1 pound per week. To lose 2 pounds per week, double the caloric deficit.
No specific food helps you lose belly fat, because it all comes down to creating a caloric deficit. Heather Katcher, a registered dietitian, suggests eating fiber-rich whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal, to slow your digestion and to keep your blood sugar stable and insulin levels low. Katcher states that low insulin levels reduce the size of fat cells in the abdomen. Include lean protein in all your meals, because this has a similar effect. Eat foods, such as sunflower seeds, walnuts and flaxseed, because these contain essential fatty acids which, according to The Natural Health Website for Women run by Dr. Marilyn Grenville, speed up your metabolism and promote insulin resistance. Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates and trans fats.
To slim down your belly, perform 300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week and include full-body strength training on at least two days of the week, as recommended by the CDC. Cardio can include jogging, riding a bike, swimming or exercising on the elliptical machine. For strength training, use your body weight, free weight, weightlifting machines or resistance bands. During cardio, maintain an intensity that still allows you to talk, and during strength training, use enough weight so the last repetition of each set is difficult to complete. Include abdominal exercises, such as crunches and situps, in your strength-training routine. These strengthen your stomach muscles so you have a toned stomach when your belly fat reduces.
Properly managing stress can help whittle away fat around your waistline. Cortisol releases in the body during periods of stress. According to Dr. Marilyn Glenville, Ph.D., founder of The Natural Health Website for Women, this stress hormone triggers cravings and increases your appetite for unhealthy, sugary, fatty foods. The fat you gain tends to store around the waistline, where it's near the liver, which can rapidly convert it to energy, if needed. To manage stress, learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing. A yoga class or Tai Chi can also help minimize stress.