If you have problems fixing your waist, the extra weight on your stomach that is causing the problem may not have happened overnight. Americans, on average, gain weight slowly but surely – just over 3 kg every four years, according to a long-term study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011.
Heredity and hormones determine whether you gain weight in your belly or hips, and how quickly you get rid of belly fat depends on how many pounds you need to lose. You may be able to lose up to 2 pounds a week after a healthy diet and regular exercise – but not all of this will come from your stomach.
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Subcutaneous versus visceral abdominal fat
Subcutaneous fat is fat that is pinched right under the skin, appears in the form of love handles and loosens on the hips, back, belly and thighs. It can be hard to lose, but it is not a serious health threat unless you are overweight or obese.
Deep belly fat is a different beast. It is called visceral fat and forms behind the abdominal wall and surrounds the organs. This type of fat is biologically active, producing hormones that can put you at risk for metabolic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You can’t “reduce” any part of your body, including your stomach. . However, unlike pinched fat, visceral fat on the abdomen gives way quite easily to dietary changes and a regular exercise program.
Weight loss and abdominal fat
Like most Americans, you’ve probably gained weight over time, so it will take time to lose weight. According to the general principles of weight loss, you need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 kilogram of fat. To lose weight, you need to reduce your caloric intake and increase your caloric burning. It is considered safe to cut 500 to 1,000 calories a day for a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.
This may not be as difficult as it sounds, especially if you have been largely sedentary and your diet has been high in empty calories, such as soda and other refined carbohydrates. Giving up a single 16-ounce serving of your diet each day, for example, saves 207 calories, while giving up medium-sized French fries at a fast-food restaurant saves 378 calories. Thirty minutes of brisk walking burns between 149 and 167 calories for an average person of 155 pounds.
If you constantly cut and burn 500 calories from your daily diet, you could theoretically lose 10 pounds in 2 and a half months or 26 pounds in half a year. To double your weight loss, create a daily calorie deficit of 1,000 calories through diet and exercise – losing 2 pounds a week can lead to 10 pounds in just five weeks. However, this general rule seems to work best for short-term weight loss, according to Densie Webb, RD, who writes in Today’s Dietitian in 2014. If you hit a plateau after a few months, a nutritionist or dietitian will can help you change your plan to move forward.
Whatever you do, don’t lose less than 1,200 calories a day if you’re a woman or 1,800 if you’re a man. Constantly consuming too few calories or burning too many can put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies and can also slow down your metabolism and therefore your progress in fat loss.
Dietary measures for fat loss
What you eat helps to determine successful fat loss. Protein consumption stimulates your metabolism, because it takes more effort for your body to process. Protein is a satiating nutrient that helps you stay fit until the next meal and also helps you maintain lean muscle mass so that you lose much of the fat from your weight loss diet. Choose low-quality protein instead of fatty meats and foods high in saturated fats, such as high-fat cheese. Good sources of protein include fish, poultry, beans, nuts and seeds, eggs and soy.
Opt for healthier, high-fiber, high-nutrient carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Like protein, fiber is satiating, filling you up without adding calories.
It is a myth that cutting out dietary fat will eliminate body fat. However, pay attention to the types of fat you choose. Unsaturated fats – found in fish, avocados, olives and olive oil, nuts and seeds – give you the fat you need to absorb nutrients, create hormones, and build healthy tissues and cells.
Exercises to lose fat and build muscle
You may think that your abs and abdomen will help you lose unwanted belly fat, but these types of spot exercises only tone your muscles – without burning fat. To reduce belly fat, the American Exercise Council recommends a regimen that combines aerobic exercise with strength training. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise to make your heart beat five days a week – for example, walking at a pace that makes you wind up, jog, bike, rowing or swimming. High-intensity training – in which you alternate periods of aerobic activity with periods of rest – offers several benefits for losing abdominal fat, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
On the two days when you are not doing aerobic exercise, do strength training exercises to build muscle and lose fat. Do these non-consecutive days to give your muscles a chance to recover. You can use free weights, weight machines or resistance bands or take a yoga class. With weights, the ACSM suggests eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 different exercises that target all major muscles. Or, if you choose yoga, include in your practice postures such as Boat, Chair, Dolphin Board, Dog Face Down, Triangle, and Warrior 1.