Have you been trying to get of that belly fat! Having a flat belly or so-called “six-pack abs” is a dream of most adults. If you’re middle-aged, have ever been pregnant, or sometimes indulge in too much food or one too many beers, you probably have a spare tire you’d like to get rid of. So what’s the best strategy for banishing belly fat? Is it as simple as adding certain foods to your diet, or doing particular exercises? Lets take a look!
Whole Grains And Belly Fat:
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a calorie-controlled diet rich in whole grains trimmed extra fat from the waistline of obese subjects.
Study participants who ate all whole grains (in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables, three servings of low-fat dairy, and two servings of lean meat, fish, or poultry) lost more weight from the abdominal area than another group that ate the same diet, but with all refined grains.
“Eating a diet rich in whole grains while reducing refined carbohydrates changes the glucose and insulin response and makes it easier to mobilize fat stores,” says study researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, a distinguished professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State University.
“Visceral fat is more metabolically active and easier to lose than subcutaneous fat, especially if you have plenty of it and the right conditions are met, such as the ones in our study.”
When you eat refined foods like white bread, it triggers a series of events, starting with elevated blood sugar levels followed by an increased insulin response, which can cause fat to be deposited more readily and sabotage your diet in terms of getting rid of that dreaded belly fat. But eating a diet rich in whole grains (which also tend to be higher in fiber) helps improve insulin sensitivity. This, in turn helps the body more efficiently use blood glucose, lowers blood glucose levels, and reduces fat deposition.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends that half of your grain servings come from whole grains.
“Eating whole grains exclusively may be difficult and unrealistic for many people,” says Rosenbloom. Instead, she recommends, “work toward consuming more whole grains, as they tend to be high in fiber, which satisfies hunger for longer periods and helps you eat less than refined grains.” Click here for some great food ideas! 🙂
Stress And Belly Fat:
Stress has an important role to play in getting you that dreaded belly fat. A study by researchers in Yale University, found that the stress hormone cortisol had a greater effect on women with excess belly fat but who were otherwise lean than those who had more fat deposition on their hips. They found that these women had more incidences of bad moods and felt higher levels of stress. The study concluded that long term exposure to stress had made these women more prone to stress and thus react negatively to normal stressors. Exposure to stress also may lead to fat deposition in their abdominal area.
Another reason why stress is bad for you, is Cortisol affects the distribution of fat around the internal organs, too much of fat around the organs leads to insulin resistance (which increases your chance of being a diabetic and having obesity), reduced kidney function, suppressed immune function (making you fall sick often) and low secretion of growth hormone (which regulates muscle growth).
Long term effects of stress affect your body’s mechanism of storing fat, makes you overeat and finally making you gain that ugly looking paunch.
Monounsaturated Fats And Belly Fat:
One diet book, Flat Belly Diet, claims belly fat can be lost by consuming a 1600 calorie diet that is rich in monounsaturated fats.
There is little question when it comes to choosing fats, the monounsaturated ones (MUFAs) found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, soybeans, chocolate, olive and canola oils are among the best fat choices with proven health benefits such as reducing cardiovascular risk.
But these are not magic foods capable of targeting belly fat. Following a 1600 calorie diet based on the Mediterranean plan, which places emphasis on MUFAs, may likely be the real cause of weight loss, explains co-author of Flat Belly Diet, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD.
Even though the MUFAs are healthy fats, they are still fats with 9 calories/gram, more than twice the nutrient density of carbohydrates and proteins with 4 calories/gram. Fats have to be controlled because it is easy to over-eat nuts or guacamole which can undo the health benefits by packing on the pounds.
The Bottom Line:
Overall Exercise, works. A moderate exercise like walking or jogging done for about 30 minutes is known to make a difference. Experts say that even though spot training doesn’t work, belly fat is the first fat you lose once you start exercising. This is because visceral fat is more metabolically active thus more sensitive to benefits of exercise. Aerobic exercise that includes walking, running, swimming, cycling, is most effective against belly fat. Remember to include strength training with aerobic exercise to build more muscle and strengthen your core.
The other key is diet. One sure way to lose weight is burn more calories that you eat, thus you must increase your activity and control your diet to see results. Just by paying more attention to what you eat and asking yourself whether you are actually hungry will act as a starting point.
Remember you need to reduce simple carbohydrates like candies, cookies, soft drinks, sweets and eat more complex carbohydrates like vegetables, whole grain cereals, legumes, fruits. Also Mono saturated fats in avocados, olives, nuts like cashew peanut and dark chocolate, are good for getting rid of the belly fat, but remember to have them in small portions as they are high in calories.
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