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How do you lose belly fat? Why is it so important to take control of your midsection?
Aside from aesthetics, belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat. Large waistlines are indicators of multiple conditions and diseases.
Unfortunately, it does take more than just crunches to lose the belly fat. But getting rid of it may help you to understand a little more about where it comes from in the first place.
- One source of belly fat is obvious: lifestyle. A poor diet and/or lack of exercise can influence the accumulation of fat cells.
- Another source of belly fat are genes – look at your parents/relatives. If they tend to have more belly fat, you probably will, too.
- Yet another source of midsection weight gain is a fat-inducing hormone called cortisol. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When you’re stressed, cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. Things can even get even worse with poor lifestyle choices mixed in.
So how can you fight back?
If you want to work late at night, think again. When your biorhythms are off, you end up eating more. When you’re tired you produce more ghrelin, which triggers cravings for sugar and other fat-building foods. Losing sleep can also alter your hormone production, affecting your cortisol levels that cause insulin sensitivity, prime reasons for belly fat! Getting about seven hours of sleep a night is one of the best things you can do for your body shaping goals.
2. Perform short bursts of exercises
One thousand crunches a night may get you strong abdominal muscles, but with a full layer of fat on top, you will not get the results you really want. Instead of all those crunches, do exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and work your cardiovascular system. Try planking, where you hold yourself in a push-up position, resting your forearms on the ground. Try three or four sets of holding for 30 seconds each. Getting up and moving throughout the day by going for walks will also help.
3. Reduce your sugar intake
Fighting belly fat is 80 percent healthy diet. Reduce calories by filling yourself up with protein, vegetables, whole grains and replacing bad habit snacks with good ones. For example, if you have a sugar craving, replace your calorie laden latte with a Muscle Milk lite, which has zero sugar and is a great source of craving-busting protein.
Another great trick is a sprinkle of cinnamon in your morning coffee or oatmeal. This spice has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. It also slows the rate at which food exits the stomach, which helps you feel fuller longer.
4. Get your Vitamin C
When you’re under extreme stress, you secrete more cortisol. Vitamin C helps to balance cortisol spikes – and is also a great way to support your immune system, limiting colds. In addition, Vitamin C is essential to your body’s carnitine production. Carnitine is a compound used by the body to turn fat into fuel.
If you’re going through an emotional crisis, stress from work, or a bad eating splurge, increase your Vitamin C – it’ll help counteract the negative side effects. Try bell peppers, kale or kiwi fruits and oranges, of course.
5. Eat Fat
Though it sounds counterproductive, it takes fat to burn fat. As mentioned above, it’s sugar that gets you fat, not fat. Good fats include foods rich in Omega 3s, like salmon, avocados and walnuts. These foods are full of nutrients that help keep you satiated throughout the day.
6. Slow down your breathing
This is a very simple method that you can use even when you’re in the midst of doing something else. Whenever you notice you’re feeling tense and uptight check and see how you’re breathing. Most people under stress either alternate holding their breath with short breaths, or take rapid shallow breaths. After you become aware of your own breathing, consciously relax your belly and slow down the breathing. This works best if you focus on slowing down the exhalation rather than your inhalation. With each exhalation you can say to yourself “slow down”.
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