THE need to win the battle with the stomach bulge is one of the more common reasons many women flock to the gym each year and sign on to excessive diet regimens. And now with summer fast approaching, it's a good time to start flattening that stomach so you can look your best while frolicking on the beach.
But apart from helping you to reach your cosmetic goal, reducing abdominal fat can be a matter of life or death. That's because belly fat increases one's risk to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and hypertension. Fat cells also help to produce hormones that can cause insulin resistance and predisposes one to certain types of cancer.
"The fat that is inside is not just there for pretty looks, it's putting some pressure on the pancreas, so one would have to be careful," explained nutritionist and fitness expert Donovan Grant.
"At all costs, keep the stomach region down, especially if you have diabetes running in your family," advised the nutritionist.
Here are some suggestions for getting rid of stomach flab:
1. Limit starch and sugars. Those sugary treats and additive-laden feasts can do wonders for your tastebuds, but they won't do so well at getting you to maintain a flat tummy. Processed foods like white rice, flour and bread are among those things you need to cross off your shopping list if you hope to get into your two-piece this summer. "Replace these products with less processed alternatives such as brown rice and whole wheat flour," Grant advised.
2. Cut your portion sizes. Your girth usually increases as you gain weight and so one of the best ways to roll back the inches would be to lose weight. "Essentially, in order to lose one pound per week, you have to cut your overall calorie intake by 500 calories per day," said Grant.
3. Adopt an exercise regimen. Adjusting your diet is just one part of the equation when it comes to helping you get rid of belly fat. You also need to do a variety of exercises that can help you to burn calories fast. Don't fall into the trap of working your abs only, as while doing 1000 crunches daily will help to strengthen your muscle walls, it might not necessary result in a flatter stomach. It's best to do a variety of cardiovascular exercises and strength-training techniques.
4. Increase your fibre. Fibre-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables help to keep you fuller longer, so you are less tempted to overeat. By eating less, you essentially reduce your calorie intake and abdominal fat. Women should essentially be getting at least 25 grammes of fibre a day, while men should strive for 38 grammes.
5. Manage your stress levels. Stress helps to increase cortisol levels which is known to fast-track the breakdown of lean muscles and hold onto fats in the abdominal region. Managing your stress levels by getting in sufficient amount of sleep and reserving time for relaxation is therefore a good way to reduce belly fat. Also increase your intake of Vitamin C to balance cortisol spikes.
6.Try a detox plan. "The fastest way I have found to lose the belly fat is to do a detox programme," said Grant. There are several detoxification programmes that can be used, which will essentially help you to get rid of accumulated waste in your stomach region, which is often one of the main reasons for the bulge in that area. "What I have found is that after few nights of detoxifying, the belly usually goes down," the nutritionist noted.
7. Cut back on alcohol. If you are told all the while that you have a beer belly, you should probably take a hint and put the liquor aside. Alcohol is high in calories and is therefore a major contributing factor to a wide girth. Alcohol also takes the liver away from focusing on metabolising fat and it also obstructs your body's access to the hormones it needs to help you break down fat.
8. Eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast is a good ally in the battle against mid-morning hunger which often causes people to binge on carbs and sugar-laden food. It also helps to kick-start your metabolism so that your body is primed to start burning off calories from early in the morning.
9. Eat more good fats. Fat is not all that bad for you depending on which type you are consuming. Some fats have been shown to keep the metabolism revved up so that you burn more calories. Foods with these good fats such as avocado and almonds also help to keep you satiated throughout the day so you won't feel the need to overeat.
10. Drink more water. Water helps to keep your cells hydrated and your stomach feeling fuller. Some researchers feel drinking water contribute to weight loss because of the calories utilised in heating the ingested water.