A trim stomach area does give a fit look to a body. Men and women alike desire to have a flat stomach, with no belly flab, or juggling love handles. When you have the right knowledge it’s easier to achieve results, so the purpose of this post is to give you some effective insights on the various aspects involved in reducing belly fat. If you can put these insights into practice you can achieve a trim waist line, with reduced or no belly flab and no hanging love handles.
Before we get into the details of strategies required to lose belly fat, it’s important to gain some perspective on how/why we tend to gather fat around our tummy region, so let’s start with that.
What is the Cause of a Bulging Belly Area?
The human body contains “fat cells” that are distributed across the body. These fat cells perform the function of storing “lipids” (or fat) which can be used by the body when sufficient calories are not obtained from the food intake. Moreover these fat cells also perform the important function of cushioning, or creating a padding, around internal organs and also insulate the body.
Apart from being stored around the internal organs, and in the liver and kidneys, fat cells are accumulated in the form of “adipose tissue” around certain regions of the body. In women, adipose tissues (with fat cells) mainly aggregate around the thighs, buttocks, breast and hips, whereas in men these tissues are mostly congregated around the “belly” region and chest region. That’s the reason why men are more likely to have a belly flab compared to women who are more likely to have bulky hips. (However, in women, after menopause, the fat cells tend to aggregate around the belly region and become a cause for belly flab).
Given the fact that in a female body, before it reaches menopause, fat mostly gets deposited around the hip region, there is less concentration of fat around the stomach in younger women, but it’s possible to have a slight flab around this region owing to excess fat deposition in the body. In men, however, it’s easy to develop tummy fat and have a flab around the belly region, with protruding love handles, because of the concentration of fat cells around this region – that’s the reason why men have a harder time getting rid of belly fat than women.
Strategies to Lose Belly Flab
The secret to have a flat stomach is to lose the fat concentration in your body. Remember that the flab is created by the “enlargement” of fat cells due to over deposition of fat in them. If you reduce the fat content in the fat cells, they will come back to their normal size and your body would take a natural toned look.
Here are some effective strategies to reduce your belly fat and even develop a “pack” (4,6,8) around the stomach (if you find it over ambitious you can just stick with a flat stomach).
Avoid feeding excess calories to the body
Remember that it’s the excess calories that get stored as “fat” in the cells. From the food that you eat your body takes up a few calories for performing external actions and a few calories for performing internal functions, some calories are used to feed the muscles, tissues and to generate new cells, anything that’s left out is “excess calorie” for the day and the only option is for the body to store it in fat cells.
As an individual, you will need to determine the average amount of calories that your body requires for its sustenance and develop a system where-by you avoid exceeding this amount through food intake. You can use the “calorie requirement” calculator on this link from mayo clinic website, to get an approximate idea of how many calories are sufficient for your body. You can also use a websites like calorieking.com to get an estimate of the number of calorie present in a certain food item that you are consuming.
I know it does not seem too cool to become a calorie counting food geek, but a calculative and disciplined approach can give you effective results than a trial and error approach.
Focus on Aerobic exercises
Apart from managing the calorie intake it’s also essential to burn off the stored up fat in order to reduce your belly fat accumulation. The only way to burn off fat is to use up the calories, you obtained from food intake, in a manner that requires the body to take the calories from the “fat cells” to supply your energy needs.
Aerobic exercises like speed walking, running, cycling and swimming are effective means of straining the body physically to burn up the calories. If you are new to aerobics, start off slowly and increase your exercise duration as you gain more stamina and strength in your muscles. Exercises like running (outside or on a treadmill) or speed walking help tighten the muscles around the stomach region and also causes the body to shed fat to adapt to the routine. Aerobics are far more effective than weight training when it comes to toning the stomach region.
30-45 minutes of aerobic exercises per day should be your goal, but you can start off with 15-20 minutes of exercise initially to get your body adapted to the routine. Make sure you find a way to enjoy this exercise routine instead of doing it as a “chore” – get some cool gear, join a good gym or just choose some nice location where you can exercise while enjoying the surroundings.
Abdomen exercises for better toning
If you can perform a few abdomen exercises per day, along with your aerobic exercise routine, you will be able to achieve the result of having a toned stomach faster. Stomach crunches or sit-ups (you can check out various sit up routines on some instructional youtube videos) and squats are two main routines that help tone the muscles around the abdomen region. Try doing 30 repetition & 3 sets everyday for each routine (you can increase the sets or reps as you go along).
Eating an all fruit breakfast
One of the best ways to reduce body fat is to take up an all fruit breakfast routine where you eat only fruits in the morning, till noon. Citrus fruits are virtual fat burners because of the presence of Vitamin C in them. You should start off your morning with a glass of lemon juice, in warm water and follow it up with a breakfast of cut fruits (focusing more on citrus fruits). You can get more information on this post on how an all fruit breakfast can help reduce fat - burning fat through fruit breakfast.
Reduce consumption of foods with saturated fats
Of the three macro nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fat – it’s seen that fats have double the calories of the previous two. If you eat one gram of carbohydrates or one gram of proteins you would gain 4 calories while 1 gram of fat would cause you to gain 8 calories. But your body does require healthy fats (mono saturated fats with essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6), so what you need to reduce is the consumption of saturated fats. Foods that contain a lot of saturated fats are – cheese, butter, lard, cream, red meats and palm oil. Also make sure that you consume healthy fats in moderation mostly through “whole food” sources like grilled fish, olive oil, avocados and lean cuts of poultry.
Focus on eating whole foods
One of most effective ways to control body fat is to eat a diet focused on whole foods rather than consuming processed and refined foods. Whole foods like whole cereals, lentils, vegetables, nuts, fruits, poultry, fish, white meat and eggs are rich in essential minerals, vitamins and provide marco-nutrients in sufficient quantities to meet the calorie requirements of the body. Processed foods like pastries, cakes, milk chocolates, ice-creams, burgers, pizzas, candies, refined flour breads, refined sugar sweets etc are not only calorie intensive but use an unhealthy mix of fats and refined carbohydrates that are generally bad for the body.
A pronounced belly fat is just your body’s way of telling you that you need to make a more conscious choice relative to your lifestyle, mostly with respect to your diet and exercising habits. A healthy diet with a disciplined exercise routine will easily ensure that you lose your belly fat and accomplish your desire for a flatter, and well toned, stomach.