“How do I get rid of this belly fat?” This is easily one of the most common weight loss questions out there. In addition to not making you feel as fit as you’d like to be, belly fat has been linked to various health conditions, particularly heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Is it impossible to lose belly fat? Absolutely not. Will it take some work? Yep.
Also, as you focus on getting fat and shaping up your middle, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind that tend to make burning belly fat more difficult for some people, such as:
- Age – it’s harder to burn fat the older you get
- Childbirth – it can be a challenge to lose weight after giving birth
- Excess calories – extra calories that your body doesn’t need equal weight gain
- Stress – stress hormones have been proven to play a part in the accumulation of fat
Being aware of the above factors can help you be more mindful of everyday habits that can make or break your weight loss success.
First, The Basics
You probably already know these basics: to lose belly fat (or fat in general), you must be regularly active for at least 4-5 days a week. This could mean a brisk walk. This could mean running. This could mean jumping on the elliptical machine. Other effective workouts include interval training workouts, where your movements are varied, as is your heart rate, which experts say is an amazingly powerful way to burn fat more quickly.
In addition to working out regularly, it’s very important to get enough sleep. Sleep resets and replenishes our bodies, and helps to keep the metabolism functional and vital systems regulated. Study after study has shown that people who don’t get as much sleep as they should tend to have more belly fat, and tend to weigh more in general.
Second, The Food
In order to burn fat, you also need to eat right. Check with an expert to help determine how many calories you need to stay healthy and lose weight. This can be your doctor, a nutritionist, or even an expert at a weight loss center. There are also many useful tools you can find online that can help you determine how many calories you need. Just keep in mind that, unless a doctor says otherwise, most people should at least be getting in at least 1200 calories a day. Anything less than that is setting your body up to not function as well as it needs to. Also, eating less than you should can actually sabotage your weight loss goals over time.
This said, what are some of the top foods that are well-known belly fat fighters?
Greek yogurt helps fight belly fat thanks to its protein content – it has twice as much as other yogurts. “Protein takes longer to leave the stomach,” says sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD. “That keeps you satisfied longer.”
Berries are high in fiber, which can keep you full longer. Plus, they tend to be sweet. This means berries can help satisfy your sweet tooth.
Did you know that beans are actually a vegetable, a protein, and a great source of fiber? One cup contains 12 grams of fiber, just 4 grams of fat, and 15 grams of proteins.
Broth-based soup (not cream-based) is filled with healthy vegetables and water, which fills you up with the fewest possible calories. Plus, since soup is generally hot, you’re forced to take your time eating it. Slow, mindful eating equals less consumed calories and a more satisfactory eating experience.
Foods that are high in water content fill you up more thoroughly, Bonci says. Watermelon is a great example of a raw, low-calorie fruit that is both water and nutrient-rich.
Studies suggest cinnamon may have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels.
Baked sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and flavorful, so you don’t need to add a lot of seasoning – which can save you calories. As a bonus, sweet potatoes contain healthy-diet loving potassium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and fiber.
Coffee may actually help stimulate your metabolism and help you lose weight. But…not if you go crazy with the sugar and creamer. Keep your coffee simple for the best effects.
Hot peppers contain a flavorless compound called capsaicin, which occurs in habaneros and in jalapeños. This compound appears to curb appetite and speed up the metabolism slightly, and temporarily. If nothing else, experts say that when people are eating something spicy, they tend to eat less of it.
One of the best sources of protein is fish. Most fish is low in fat, and the exceptions usually have a healthy form of fat — omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your heart.
Several studies suggest green tea may promote weight loss by stimulating the body to burn abdominal fat. Green tea contains catechins, a type of phytochemical that may briefly affect the metabolism. However, in order to get the most benefits, you may need to drink green tea several times a day.
Nuts are high in protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. But watch your portion size, since nuts tend to be higher in calories.
Oatmeal is fiber-rich, contains water and is hot. Just like soup, this equals a satisfying, filling meal that will help you feel full for a longer period of time. The trick: buy plain, unsweetened oatmeal and add your own flavorings, such as cinnamon.
Studies suggest eating protein in the morning will help you feel less hungry for a longer period of time. One egg has only 75 calories, but contains 7 grams of protein.
More research is needed, but some studies do suggest that vinegar may help the body break down fat. Sprinkle some on your salad with a little heart-healthy olive oil for a satisfying burst of flavor.