Excessive belly fat is a condition with serious repercussions. This kind of white fat, known as visceral fat, leads to stress hormones called cortisol that circulate through the body and cytokines, an inflammatory substance that affects the body’s production of insulin. Some visceral fat is required by the body as it provides cushioning around the body. However, if a person is obese, the body starts storing fat into the organs and around the heart because the other areas normally used for fat storage are too full. So, apart from the individual being overweight, s/he is also at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other nasty conditions like dementia, and colon and breast cancers. One easy way of determining whether you are seriously obese or not is measure your waist while standing up. Women should be less than 35 inches in circumference and men less than 40 inches.
The good news is that visceral fat can be brought under control by being physically active and getting your heart beat up. Regular brisk walking, jogging, biking, and swimming all help in losing belly fat as do using elliptical and rowing machines. Yoga is another effective form of exercise. Exercise helps because it reduces levels of cortisol which is linked to belly fat. It is important to get at least 30 minutes off moderate exercise 5 days a week.
Diet of course also plays a vital role. Eating more protein helps you to slim down and cut down on the body’s production of insulin. As the body ages, it produces more insulin which in turn promotes fat storage around the belly. More protein in the diet helps to protect against insulin resistance. It is also better to eat polyunsaturated fat than saturated fat e.g. sunflower oil which is a polyunsaturated fat is better than palm oil which has saturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats also occur naturally in nuts, seeds, and fish and help with losing belly fat. Other dietary items that help in the battle of the bulge are the antioxidants found in green tea called catechins and a larger intake of soluble fibre. Catechins are particularly effective in reducing fat while exercising.
A home remedy known to help with belly fat loss is vinegar or apple cider vinegar according to a 2009 Japanese study. According to Pamela Peeke, author of ‘Fight Fat After 40’ and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, one explanation for this might be that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up the fat.
Sleep too has a direct bearing on weight loss and belly fat. Visceral fat levels increase for people who regularly make do with 5 hours or less of sleep per night. Sleep is vital for helping the body to restore and repair itself and at least 7 hours a night are required and ideally 8 in order to have the reverse effect and reduce belly fat. Getting habituated to going to bed regularly at a particularly time helps the body to regulate its internal clock and avoid the production of cortisol, provided the body gets the required amount of rest.
Finally, managing stress also has a direct bearing on weight loss. There are different ways of handling it whether it be relaxing, meditating, exercising and counseling. Whatever works for an individual is what matters and being proactive in bringing it under control.