One of the most popular reasons women join gyms and exercise classes at this time of the year is to learn ways to fight belly fat – and when you start counting down to the hotter temperatures and holiday departure dates, it’s not hard to see why. We’ll all be stripping down to bikinis and cute summer dresses soon, so it’s time to lose the winter weight! With the stomach area often being voted the most difficult to change, here’s some helpful ways to fight belly fat without a mammoth training schedule.
Started a fat free diet to slim down your stomach? Think again. People who collect fat around their stomach don’t tend to thrive on fat free diets, due to the absence of good fats. The solution? Cut refined carbohydrates such as white rice, and eat foods that contain good fats such as olive oil, sea bass and avocado instead. Cutting bad fats while retaining good ones is one of the ways to fight belly fat that’s frequently used by boot camps! Wholegrain bread with an avocado, lemon and chili flake topping is the ideal flab-fighting snack.
We’ve all heard this one, but studies show that it actually works – just maybe not how you’d expect it too. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a five-week study where the women involved were offered their favorite fast food for five days a week. At the end of the five weeks, the women had started eating less and less of the fast food, and were much less tempted by it. They did get the same happiness after eating it, despite eating less. The study found the same effect can be replicated over meals eaten several days apart – but if you eat a fast food meal once a week, you will eat more of it. Eating foods you’d normally ban cuts down their appeal, stops binging and prevents cravings, helping you to shift that belly fat faster.
The 5:2 diet has been doing the rounds since Christmas, with some people claiming that it’s an easy and sustainable way to lose weight. An assistant professor in nutrition found that people who eat 25% less calories every other day can lose up to 30lbs in just eight weeks. To get maximum benefits, he recommends eating 1,500 calories one day, and sticking to your normal eating habits the next. Just make sure you don’t sabotage your diet on your off days, and work out regularly to get maximum benefit.
Strength training is said to be best when you are trying to burn off tummy fat – but it seems that aerobic exercise will help you see results faster. Aerobic exercise burns 67% more calories and significantly reduces belly fat compared with resistance training, and the participants were only running 12 miles a week. Work up to that by training four or five days a week, and adding in resistance training to define and shape your abdomen.
A study in the Journal of Sleep recently found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of sleep you get and your amount of stomach fat – participants who slept under five hours or over eight hours gained more stomach fat than those who sleep between six and seven hours. The quality of the sleep mattered too – try to get good quality sleep in a dark, quiet room.
Soluble fibre is directly linked to abdomen fat too – the more you consume, the less belly fat you are likely to have. Soluble fibre can be found in a variety of food, including vegetables, fruits and beans, so it’s relatively easy to fit into your diet. Aim for at least 10g per day, which is the same at one cup of green peas, two small apples or one cup of pinto beans.
There’s a reason that people who live around coconut trees (and the gorgeous beaches usually found nearby!) have flatter stomachs. Coconut oil is a saturated fat that has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, both of which can boost the thyroid and metabolism. It was even tested on cows in 1900s, in an attempt to fatten them up, but actually made them leaner. Get cooking with coconut oil!
Okay, so we all know we should be cutting sugar – but do you know which type? Glucose is found in potatoes and rice, and out of every 120 calories of glucose you consume, only 1 will be stored as fat. Man made fructose appears in a variety of sweet treats and snacks, and 40 calories out of 120 will be stored as fat. It’s worthwhile keeping an eye on your sugar consumption!
These ways to fight belly fat have certainly transformed my kitchen – I’m testing out my favorite recipes with healthy ingredients such as coconut oil, and I’ve even started jogging on the spot when I’m cooking. At this rate, I should have a defined waist in no time! Do you have any great ways to fight belly fat in the home? I’d love to hear them!