How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat

by Suzanne Hiscock
Can you get rid of belly fat in a week? Don’t fool yourself: it didn’t take you a week to store the fat in your belly. It’s going to take longer than seven days to get rid of it.

If the belly fat is due to bloating from a weekend of overindulging, you can reduce that bloating feeling. But that’s not really belly fat, is it? That’s gas.

We cringe when we see our bellies spilling out over jeans; we feel uncomfortable when bending over and tying our shoes. It jiggles when we walk or it sticks out when we’re wearing a tight shirt or dress.

But belly fat can also be harmful to your health.

See:  3 Reasons Why Being Overweight Can Harm Your Health


Why You Need to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of belly fat we’re usually concerned with - subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.

Subcutaneous fat sits between your skin and abdominal muscles. It’s jiggly fat you can poke like the Pillsbury Doughboy

Visceral fat lies beneath your abdominal muscles and surrounds your organs. It pushes your abdomen out. This kind of fat can be more harmful to your health.

People with higher amounts of visceral fat are more likely to develop Type II diabetes, high and heart disease, and it’s associated with other health problems, like high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.

It’s important to note: You can have visceral fat without having a lot of subcutaneous (jiggly) fat.

And if you have a lot of subcutaneous fat, chances are you have visceral fat.


Ways to Tell What Kind of Belly Fat You Have -- And If You Have Too Much

One way to tell if you have visceral fat is to note the difference between your abdomen when standing up and lying down. Your belly will still stick out when lying down if you have visceral fat -- the bad kind of fat. The subcutaneous fat flattens out and falls to the side.

While the subcutaneous fat isn’t as harmful as the visceral fat, belly fat can still be an indicator your overall health needs to be improved.

Related:  A Cheat Sheet for Important Body Numbers

Your waist circumference and your waist-to-hip ratio are two additional indicators that you need to lose belly fat.
 

Waist Circumference

To measure your waist circumference, measure your waist at the narrowest part of the torso.

For women: If your waist circumference over 35 inches, you could be at risk.

For men, a waist circumference over 40 inches puts you at risk.


Waist to Hip Ratio

Your waist hip ratio (WHR) is one way of assessing your risk of certain diseases such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. People who carry their weight in the abdominal area are more at risk for certain diseases when compared to people who carry their fat in the hip area.

Use FitWatch’s Waist to Hip Ratio Calculator to see whether you’re at risk.

Whether you have subcutaneous or visceral fat, getting rid of belly fat can improve not only your health, but make you feel better overall.


A 5 Step Plan to Get Rid of Belly Fat

What’s great about this plan is that it gets rid of fat all over your body, not just your belly.


1)  Create a calorie deficit to lose weight.

When you’re in a calorie deficit, your body will burn the extra calories it needs by digging into your fat stores.  

2) Eat a diet rich in fiber.

According to a study by Wakefield Baptist Medical Center, adding more soluble fiber to your diet, along with moderate exercise, helped decrease visceral belly fat.

​Lead researcher, Kristen Hairson, MD, say: “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; moderate activity means exercising vigorously for 30 minutes, two to four times a week.” Fiber helps you to feel full, too. It’ll help you to feel less hungry.


3)  Limit alcohol intake.

While there is some debate as to whether alcohol actually contributes directly to belly fat (beer belly / wine belly), alcohol can prevent your body from burning fat -- and that includes belly fat. When you drink alcohol, your body puts everything else on hold while it gets rid of this “toxin.”

Not only does the alcohol add extra, empty calories, it can cloud your judgement when making food choices.


4)  Do short, intense and long, slow exercises to targe belly fat.

While any exercise will help you burn fat, when it comes to belly fat, the best types of exercises are:
 
  1. Short, intense exercise (e.g. weight training, sprinting, tabata);
  2. Long, slow intensity exercise (e.g. walking, yoga).

Short intense exercises increase growth hormone and limits cortisol. While the long, slow intensity lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).

What about abdominal exercises? While abdominal exercises will help strengthen those muscles, it won’t get rid of fat in that specific spot.

But, one ab exercise that helps bring in that belly is the “vacuum”. It works the transverse abdominis muscle, which acts like a corset for your core. Learn how to do it here:  One Ab Exercise You Can Do Anywhere, Anytime.


5) Lower your stress levels.

Stress causes hormonal imbalances in the body. In particular, it can cause your cortisol levels to become unbalanced. This causes fat to accumulate around the waistline.

When you shrink your stress, you shrink belly fat.

Here are some ways to reduce stress:
 
Getting enough sleep can help lower your stress levels, too. 

See: Tips and Tricks to Beat Insomnia

Will Fish Oil and Coconut Oil Help You Lose Belly Fat?

What about adding oils like fish oil and coconut oil? While some studies show there might be a correlation between these oils and losing belly fat, the effect might not be a great as we’re led to believe.

If you do add fish oil (as a supplement for Omega-3s, for example) or coconut oil to your diet, keep in mind these are not calorie free. One gram of fat has 9 calories compared to 1 gram of carbs or protein, which have 4 calories each.

Make sure you replace fats in your diet, not add more fat to your diet.

By taking control of your diet, exercise, stress levels and the amount of sleep you get, you can get rid of excess belly fat and achieve better health.

Read More
10 Important Reasons to Get Rid of Belly Fat
How Can I Reduce My Body Fat Percentage


References:
http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/belly-fat-frequently-asked-questions
http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/exercise-hinders-visceral-fat-development
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8653140
 
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About the Author

Suzanne is the owner of FitWatch. She's had strong interest in nutrition and exercise for over 20 years, and is an ACE-certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. Back in 2002, she started FitWatch.com because she wanted to help people lose weight by creating helpful tools and calculators. A huge fan of calorie counting, Suzanne created the FitWatch Fitness Tracker to make it easy for people to count their calories.