Belly fat is the visceral fat surrounding the liver and other organs in the abdomen, close to the portal vein that carries blood to the liver. The proximity pushes free fatty acids into the liver, influences the production of lipids and increases cholesterol levels. Excessive fat accumulation in the abdomen area can prove extremely dangerous to one’s health. It is a must to reduce belly fat since excess fat can increase your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Colorectal cancer
- Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
Causes of Belly Fat:
Contrary to popular belief, people with a normal body mass index(BMI), but having excess belly fat, also face increased risk of the above health problems. Given below is a list of causes for the accumulation of excessive belly fat:
- Sugary food and beverages: Studies have shown a link between high sugar intake and excess belly fat. This is mainly due to the extra refined sugar added while processing. While excess sugar in any form can be harmful, sugar-sweetened beverages are especially problematic.
- Alcohol: Another possible cause for sudden belly fat gain is alcohol. Studies have linked the excess consumption of alcohol to an increase in belly fat, with one study finding that men who consumed more than 3 drinks a day were 80% more likely to have excess body fat.
- Sedentary lifestyle: One’s activity levels also play a major role in the accumulation of belly fat. A study showed that people who performed resistance training or aerobic exercise for a year after losing weight were able to prevent abdominal fat gain, while those who did not exercise faced a 25-38% increase in belly fat.
- Stress: Cortisol, commonly called the ‘stress hormone’, is produced by the adrenal glands in stressful situations. While stress drives overeating, cortisol causes the excess calories to be stored as fat in the belly.
- Genetics: Similar to genes playing a major role in increased obesity risk, genetics may be partly responsible for the tendency of the body to store fat in the abdomen area.
Tips to reduce belly fat:
The following tips can help reduce the accumulation of fat in the abdominal region:
Eat plenty of soluble fiber:
Soluble fiber forms a gel with water that slows down food as it passes through your digestive system. This type of fiber promotes weight loss since it helps you feel full for a longer time, thereby preventing unnecessary food intake.
While alcohol can have health benefits when consumed in limited amounts, it can be seriously harmful if consumed in excess. One way alcohol can negatively impact your body is by increasing the risk of abdominal obesity. Cutting back on it may help reduce one’s waist size. While there’s no need to give it up altogether, limiting the amount of alcohol consumed regularly is a must.
Drink Green Tea:
A very healthy beverage, green tea contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that appears to boost metabolism. The effect of the antioxidants in green tea may be strengthened when its consumption is combined with exercise.
Cardio or aerobic exercises are an effective way to reduce belly fat. While that may have been proven by various studies, the results are varied regarding the intensity of exercise necessary. In addition to cardio, resistance training can further help with fat loss too. That said, it is ideal to consult a personal fitness trainer before getting started on high-intensity resistance training.
Get enough sleep:
Sleep affects various aspects of one’s health, including belly fat accumulation. People who don’t get enough of it tend to gain more weight. Sleep apnea, where breathing stops intermittently at night, has also been linked to excess visceral fat. A minimum of 7 hours of quality sleep every night is a must to keep one’s fat gain under control.
Track your calories:
Extra calories in any form get stored in the body as fat. It is ideal to keep track of the number of calories being consumed and burnt on a daily basis. This can help avoid fat accumulation in the body. You can use the calorie tracker available on the HealthifyMe app for the same.
One cannot reduce belly fat overnight. A long-term plan is the best approach to losing belly fat for good. However, following the above tips can take you one step closer to your fat loss goals. That said, it is ideal to speak to an expert before you get started on your weight loss goals. Speak to some of India’s best nutritionists and fitness coaches, and start your fat loss journey.