“Little in the middle” is what’s popular these days, and not just in order to fit into the latest fashions or feel confident in a swimsuit. That extra cushion around your midsection, medically known as visceral fat, can put you at risk for heart disease and diabetes, as fat can develop between your internal organs. Here’s five tips to safely work off that extra layer!
Get that cardio in.
In order to lose any type of fat, your body needs to burn more calories than it takes in – and the easiest way to help it is with exercise. Challenging yourself with a moderate to intense cardio workout several times a week will not only help you blast calories, but will improve your overall fitness. A study by Duke University showed that 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise significantly helped to reduce visceral fat, and when combined with resistance training, was even more effective. Get off that couch and get moving!
Eat the right fats.
Saturated fats, like those from meat and dairy, have been linked to an increase in visceral fat. Switching to monounsaturated fats (like those found in olive oil and avocados) and polyunsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, and fish) will help you feel satiated, but without the same effects on your organs as saturated fats. Be careful though, as fats are high in calories, so don’t overdo it.
Don’t skimp on sleep.
Getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night can lead to increased fat around your organs, according to one study. But more sleep isn’t always better – getting too much sleep can also contribute to more belly fat. Aim for 8 hours a night, and try to go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day – even weekends. Irregular sleeping habits cause confuse your internal clock, which can cause your body to secrete fat-storing hormones like cortisol.
Get more fiber.
“There is mounting evidence that eating more soluble fiber and increasing exercise reduces visceral or belly fat,” says Kristen Hairston, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist. The study Hairston lead showed that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Ten grams of soluble fiber can be achieved by eating two small apples, one cup of green peas and one-half cup of pinto beans – easy, right?
Chill out and just breathe.
Lastly – are you always stressed out? It could be contributing to why your belly won’t budge. Stress has been linked to the release of the hormone cortisol (which aids in storing fat). Meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in the blood, so take a few moments in your day to relax – which is really never a bad idea!
Got your own tips for losing a few inches? Share them below in the comments!
Bray, George A. and Krauss, Ronald M. Overfeeding of Polyunsaturated Versus Saturated Fatty Acids Reduces Ectopic Fat. Diabetes July 2014 63:7 2222-2224; doi:10.2337/db14-0493
González-Cabrera, J., Fernández-Prada, M., Iribar-Ibabe, C., Peinado, J. M. Acute and chronic stress increase salivary cortisol: a study in the real-life setting of a national examination undertaken by medical graduates. Stress 2014 17:2 , 149-156
Hairston, K. G., Bryer-Ash, M., Norris, J. M., Haffner, S., Bowden, D. W., & Wagenknecht, L. E. (2010). Sleep Duration and Five-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort:The IRAS Family Study. Sleep, 33(3), 289–295.
Hairston, K. G., Vitolins, M. Z., Norris, J. M., Anderson, A. M., Hanley, A. J. and Wagenknecht, L. E. (2012), Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity, 20: 421–427. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.171
Willis, Leslie H., Slentz, Cris A., Bateman, Lori A., Shields, A. Tamlyn, Piner, Lucy W., Bales, Connie W., Houmard, Joseph A., Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults, William E. Kraus Journal of Applied Physiology Dec 2012, 113 (12) 1831-1837; DOI:10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011
Written by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, originally published on July 20, 2015 on Healthline.com.