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9 Proven Ways To Lose Stubborn Belly Fat.

9 Proven Ways To Lose Stubborn Belly Fat.

Belly fat is maligned for its way of tampering with any outfit that doesn’t involve a muumuu, but really there’s something way worse about the stuff: When white fat expands in your abdomen, nestling deep among your organs, it sets you up for some serious health trouble. In fact, research has shown that waist size is a bigger risk factor for serious diseases than your overall fat percentage.

We now know that this type of fat, called visceral fat, is metabolically active and churns out stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect the body’s production of insulin. The result: It’s worse than just being generally overweight; you’re looking at increased risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and even dementia.

Unfortunately, some women are just more prone to carrying weight in their middle instead of their hips and thighs, and there are plenty of scientific reasons why. Sometimes, it’s genetics—maybe your mother or grandmother was more apple-shaped. Belly fat can also increase around menopause, or for women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Even certain lifestyle habits, from sleep to stress, can make your belly grow. Speaking with a doctor will help you understand what other factor might be contributing to your weight gain but at the end of the day, nothing sheds belly fat like diet, exercise, and everyday changes to your lifestyle.

The smooth stomach of your dreams is always within reach, but it takes time and dedication. Commit to these daily habits, and you’ll start dropping pounds before you know it.

1. Never stop moving.

There’s one thing to like about visceral fat: It yields fairly easily to aerobic exercise. Vaporizing calories via running, biking, swimming—anything that gets your heart rate up—wins over resistance training when it comes to getting rid of the stuff. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Physiology, found the sweet spot: Jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week will help you lose belly fat. Researchers found that aerobic exercise burned 67% more calories in the study over resistance training.

Not a fan of running? Don’t give up on exercise yet. A regular walking routine will also help you get a flatter belly. Aim for 45 minutes to an hour of brisk walking every day, or try alternating between a brisk pace and leisurely stroll.

And while high-intensity cardio may be the ultimate belly fat burner, don’t shy away from weight training and full-body workouts; they’ll help you grow stronger and boost your metabolism (to help you burn calories more easily) along the way. We asked one personal trainer to share the best workouts that burn fat from your entire body, including your belly. Some of her favorites: The rowing machine, heavy lifting with shorter rest times, and planking.

2. This time, eat protein like you mean it.

Of course you know that protein’s essential for a slimmer you and essential for losing belly fat—you couldn’t have made it through the Paleo and South Beach crazes without hearing all about it. But here’s why protein really needs to play a prime roll on your plate: “Your body starts to produce more insulin as you age, since your muscle and fat cells aren’t responding to it properly,” explains Louis Aronne, MD, Director of the Obesity Clinic at Cornell. And insulin promotes fat storage, especially around your belly (yippee!).

A diet high in protein may protect you against insulin resistance, Aronne says. One easy way to up your intake is to add organic protein to your smoothies, meals, or snacks. You can also meal prep these protein packed recipes that will last all week.

In one study, obese women who followed a diet for eight weeks that was roughly 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat lost significantly more fat—including visceral pudge—than women who stuck to a plan that was 16% protein, 55% carbs, and 26% fat.

 

3. Pound the polyunsaturates.

Saturated fats in food will pack on more visceral fat than polyunsaturated ones,according to 2014 Swedish study. When subjects ate 750 more calories daily for seven weeks, either in the form of palm oil (saturated) or sunflower oil (polyunsaturated), the former gained more visceral fat while the latter gained more muscle mass and less body fat. You know the deal: Polyunsaturated fats are the ones in nuts, seeds and fish and can help you lose belly fat.

More recent studies have found that saturated fat can have a place in a healthy diet, in moderation, but being conscious of which high fat food you’re eating (and remembering to always skip trans fats) is key. Wild-caught salmon, avocado, and almond butter are just a few of the delicious food packed with healthy fats and other nutrients that promote weight loss around the belly.

 

4. Pucker up.

Obese people who consumed a tablespoon or two of vinegar daily for eight weeks showed significant decreases in body fat, particularly visceral fat, according to a 2009 Japanese study. “One theory is that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat,” explains Pamela Peeke, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After 40.

 

5. Try yoga.

Postmenopausal women who tried yoga for 16 weeks reported significant reductions in visceral fat in one 2012 study. Or, if you’re just not that into downward dog, any sort of relaxation exercise, even simple deep breathing, can help—the key is to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to belly fat.

Yoga may seem counter-intuitive, when we already know that intense aerobic exercise is one of the best fat-burners, but the idea is that increasing your mindfulness on the mat helps you become more in-tune with your body, which leads to healthier food choices and lower stress levels. Gentle yoga can help you step away from the self-criticism when you overeat from time to time, and prevent you from falling off the wagon completely. It’s easy to feel like yoga isn’t accessible for people who don’t have the stereotypical “yoga body,” but some cities actually offer yoga classes for overweight people.

 

6. Get enough sleep.

Routinely squeaking by on five hours or less per night increases visceral fat levels, according to a 2010 Wake Forest University study. As you likely already know, 8 hours is the number to aim for and is ideal for losing belly fat. Another study found that insufficient sleep can boost hunger and appetite, which may lead some people to make unhealthy food choices late at night. “If you’re sleep deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired. So you are more likely to eat it,” said Erin Hanlon, a UChicago research associate, in a university blog post. “Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds.”

…but don’t sleep late on weekends.

Women who wake up and go to bed at the same time each evening have lower levels of body fat, according to a Brigham Young University study. Chaotic sleep habits cause your internal clock to go haywire, which in turn causes your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol. Plus, avoid these other unhealthy weekend habits that set you up for a less-than-stellar week.

 

7. Become the queen of this tea.

Moderate exercisers who stocked up on the antioxidants found in green tea, called catechins, were more likely to lose belly fat while exercising than those who didn’t take them. One study put the daily dose at 625 mg, the equivalent of two or three eight-ounce cups of green tea.

 

8. Get fussy about fiber.

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