Carrying extra belly fat can affect not only your confidence, but also, and more importantly, your health. This is due to a specific type of fat, visceral, being a major contributor to potentially developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other conditions.
Belly fat, especially the lower portions are a place where fat will accumulate more rapidly due to genetics, inflammation, various lifestyle factors, and diet. Belly fat is a tricky entity because looks can be deceiving. For example, individuals who appear thin on the outside, but nevertheless, have excess belly fat, are still at an increased risk for various health conditions.
But, all is not lost because losing belly fat isn’t an insurmountable task. In fact, you can start losing belly fat with these six simple habits.
In This Article
1. Prioritize Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation reports that 43% of Americans rarely get a good night’s sleep on weeknights with two-thirds admitting that their sleep needs aren’t being met. Sleep is nutrition for your brain and serves as a foundational pillar for losing belly fat. When you lack quantity and quality sleep, weight gain is much more likely to appear with the majority happening around your midsection.
Sleep and weight gain are connected due to two key hunger hormones: Leptin (a hormone influencing satiety) and Gherlin (a hormone influencing appetite). In a sleep-deprived state, Leptin decreases while Gherlin increases—which means your hunger signals are telling you to eat while the signals to indicate you’re full are decreasing.
This leads to higher incidences of stress eating due to not being in a peak state both mentally and emotionally. A couple of habits to help with your sleep are to cut electronics out 60 minutes before bed along with committing to consistent sleep and wake up times.
2. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress is a natural part of life and isn’t something that is going to completely disappear. The issue with stress stems from there being overwhelming amounts in the typical day-to-day life.
Stress and weight gain are intimately tied together thanks to a hormone called cortisol. As more stress compounds in your life, belly fat can begin to accumulate since the adrenal glands are being signaled to produce more cortisol.
Higher cortisol levels increase your appetite, which can further lead to more abdominal fat storage. When it comes to managing your daily levels of stress, sleep is the first area to look into. Afterward, you can look into practices that calm your mind such as yoga and meditation.
3. Limit Liquid Calories
When you’re attempting to lose lower belly fat, it’s wise to focus on the “big rocks” first. And one of those is liquid calories. An example of this is sugar-sweetened beverages that are loaded with liquid fructose. Sugary drinks present numerous issues, but one major one is how it affects your brain.
Liquid calories aren’t processed in your brain the same way that calories from solid foods are. This leads to a higher likelihood of eating more due to not feeling satiated. And when you have an overabundance of food, increasing amounts of belly fat is a likely result. To mitigate this issue, stick to water and commit to zero calories coming from liquid beverages
4. Make Protein a Staple With Each Meal
Protein is the basic building block of life and the most important macronutrient when it comes to losing belly fat. One central reason for this is that protein helps with satiety through a variety of different mechanisms.
According to a study in Nutrition and Metabolism, individuals who ate more quality protein ended up with much less belly fat. Another cool benefit of utilizing protein is its connection to reducing your risk of gaining belly fat over a 5 year period.
As to how much protein to ingest to garner these benefits, a handful of studies have shown that 25 to 30 percent of total calories appears to be the sweet spot. Some good sources of protein include eggs, legumes, fish, and protein powder (for those who are always on the go).
5. Emphasize Fiber—Especially Soluble Fiber
While fiber should be a mainstay in your everyday diet, adding more soluble fiber into your day-to-day life will provide further benefits. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a thick gel that helps slow down your food as it passes through your digestive system. An obvious benefit of this is that it keeps you full for much longer durations.
Over the long term, for every 10-gram increase of soluble fiber, individuals decreased their chances of gaining belly fat by 3.7 percent over a 5-year period according to this study. A few great sources for soluble fiber include avocados, legumes, oatmeal, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and carrots to name a few.
6. Commit to Exercising
When people think of exercising and its connection to belly fat, abdominal exercises are likely the next thought on the horizon. However, doing 500 crunches a day will only tighten your ab muscles, not remove the extra layers of belly fat that are present
On the other hand, the type of exercising that will help with reducing your waist circumference and losing visceral fat is activities such as brisk walking, strength training, and cycling. A general starting point that is also effective is committing to at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity each day.
Losing that stubborn lower belly fat won’t happen by simply snapping your fingers. The good news is that it’s far from being mission impossible. With patience, discipline, consistency, and utilizing these six habits from above—losing all your belly fat will be inevitable.