Every person has belly fat, even the people who are thin and lean with a flat stomach. Having belly fat is normal but too much of it can be a risk factor for the overall health of an individual. A waist size less than 35 inches for females and less than 40 inches for males is considered healthy. Some of the fat tissues are present right beneath the skin while other fat cells are located deep in the body, surrounding the delicate organs such as lungs, heart, liver, etc. This kind of fat is called visceral fat and can be more problematic if accumulated in a larger amount. For a healthy and fit body healthy and good food is necessary with regular exercise. Fat can create problems in the future with a fatty body. It can create diabetes problems, blood pressure problems and many other diseases.
The belly fat is made up of visceral fat that cushions the organs present in the abdominal cavity. Too much belly fat can lead to diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart ailments, dementia, cancers (particularly colon cancer and breast cancer), etc. The belly fat does not just accumulate at a spot but it produces lots of harmful end products during its metabolism.
How to Reduce Belly Fat
The belly fat can be reduced or controlled by taking care of four key factors, i.e. diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep. These are discussed below:
i)- Include fibrous foods: When you lose weight by eating healthy, belly fat usually burns first. A diet rich in fiber helps in reducing belly fat. Research demonstrates that eating 10 gm of soluble fiber every day builds up a smaller amount of visceral fat. Soluble fibers have a tendency to absorb water and swell-up which helps in slowing down the bowel movement. This type of fiber enhances weight loss by making you feel full for a longer duration of time. It also decreases the absorbance of calories from the food. A study was conducted on about 1100 individuals to know the effect of soluble fiber on belly fat. The results demonstrated that every 10 gm increment in the intake of soluble fiber decreases the belly fat by 3.7 percent when consumed for five years. Excellent sources of soluble fibers include flax seeds, Brussels sprouts, avocados, berries, etc.
ii)- Avoid foods containing trans fat: Trans fats are unhealthy fatty substances that are manufactured synthetically through the hydrogenation of oils. They are found in kinds of margarine, and other spreads and are often added to ready-to-eat packed foods. These fats are associated with increased belly fat along with various other ailments such as inflammation, cardiac diseases, diabetes, etc. A study conducted on monkeys demonstrated an increment of 33% abdominal fat in those who ate a diet containing a high amount of trans fats compared to the ones that ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
ii)- Avoid alcohol: Consuming too much alcohol causes serious harm to the body and can also make you gain belly fat. Heavy drinking is directly linked with the occurrence of central obesity i.e. excessive fat around the waist region. Cutting back on the amount of alcohol consumed may help in reducing belly fat. A study conducted on more than 2000 people suggested that people who drink alcohol daily but in lesser amounts accumulate less belly fat in comparison to the ones who drink less frequently but in large quantities.
iv)- Intermittent fasting: Intermittent fasting has recently gained popularity as a method of losing weight. It is an eating pattern including periods of eating followed by fasting. There are numerous ways to follow intermittent fasting, each of which is split into days or weeks of eating and fasting pattern. In a study on intermittent fasting, a 4 to 7 % decrease in belly fat was found when followed for 6-24 weeks.
Vigorous exercise cuts down all the extra fat present in the body, including belly fat. A minimum of thirty minutes of exercise for about 5 days a week is required for better results. Brisk walking can also help in reducing belly fat if it makes you sweat and increases your heart rate. One of the most effective forms of exercise for reducing belly fat is aerobic exercise (cardio). Raising the heart rate for thirty minutes at least three times a week is also found effective. It slows down the accumulation of belly fat. Exercising does not necessarily mean hitting the gym; playing soccer with the kids, walking in the garden, or going for Zumba meant the same.
Every human being in the entire world is suffering from some kind of stress. Having stress does not matter, but how you take it or manage it means a lot. Stress can increase the accumulation of belly fat by stimulating the adrenal glands to produce cortisol-the stress hormone. High cortisol level in the blood increases hunger and also the belly fat storage. To reduce abdominal fat, try to engage in relaxing and pleasurable activities such as spending time with family and friends, practicing yoga or meditation, etc.
Getting the right amount of sleep is very much essential for the overall health of an individual, including the reduction of belly fat. It was found in a five-year research that people who get seven to eight hours of sleep every night accumulate less abdominal fat as compared to the ones who slept for just five or fewer hours per night.
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