It’s that time of year again. When the weather gets warmer, and the clothes get skimpier. After hibernating for the winter, I feel like I may have put on a few extra pounds. And, I think it settled around my midsection.
Belly fat is the latest threat to your health. Why? Because belly fat, or visceral fat, lies deep in your abdomen, surrounds your organs and increases the production of toxic hormones.
The good news is you can lose the belly fat. However, there is no magic diet or quick cure for belly fat. It takes good, old-fashioned hard work to beat the tummy bulge.
Here are 4 key steps to controlling and losing belly fat:
1. Move that body
One of the main keys to losing belly fat is to exercise often. You may need to exercise every day of the week. At the very least, you need to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week, and preferably 5 times a week. While vigorous exercise is the most effective, it may just be a matter of burning more calories. So, whether you run, walk or skip, you just need to put in the work and get moving.
You want to get your heart rate up and burn calories with aerobic or cardio exercise. You can also mix in strength training, which can help you burn fat for hours after you exercise.
Everything counts. Walk instead of driving whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Rake leaves or work in the garden. Play outside with your kids. Just find more ways to work exercise into your routine. Here are some tips to help you get motivated to exercise.
2. Eat a healthier diet
When you eat healthier, belly fat is one of the first places you will lose weight. More and more research is showing that a plant-based diet high in fiber – including fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans – can help you lose weight. This type of diet also has many other benefits, such as reducing your risk of cancer. You can also include fish, low-fat dairy and whole grains in your healthy eating habits.
Start your day with a high-protein breakfast. Eating in the morning jump starts your metabolism for the day. Good breakfast foods include:
- Fresh fruit
- Skim milk and cheese
- Whole-grain toast
Eat several smaller meals throughout the day and have healthy snacks. Don’t skip meals. Your body goes into starvation mode and stops burning calories it you don’t eat at regular intervals.
Healthy foods and snacks to help you burn belly fat include:
- Citrus fruits
- Green tea
- Walnuts, almonds and other nuts
- Beans and legumes
- Green vegetables
- Lean meats and fish
- Peanut butter
- Whole grains
3. Get the right amount of sleep
Lack of sleep increases the likelihood you will gain weight. When you’re tired, you release more hormones that stimulate your appetite. By getting enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours per night – you can reduce your chances of gaining visceral fat. And, getting enough sleep is just good for your overall health.
4. Manage your stress
When you’re stressed, you may not make the best food choices. It’s easy to reach for comfort foods to help you feel better. In addition, when you’re anxious and stressed, your body goes into crisis mode. Your body will release stress hormones that actually contribute to weight gain. You can use relaxation techniques to control your stress levels and help manage your weight.
You can lose the belly fat and get ready for summer. It may take a little work, but it will be worth it! And you’ll be improving your overall health in so many ways.