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conventional wisdom
stress hormone
home watch
heart rate
Losing Tummy Fat
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It has been a dieter's conundrum since the demise of the corset. How can you lose tummy fat without starving yourself or doing non-stop sit-ups? Can you reduce your waistline without becoming painfully thin all over?

Conventional wisdom was that dieters had to do sit-ups and crunches for an hour a day to fight the fat in their stomach region. Unfortunately we now know that targeted fat loss is not possible. Targeting only your tummy cannot be done without losing fat over your whole body. But you can lose weight and make your belly seem flatter with a mix of nutrition and exercise.

Advances in modern technology are staggering, mind-blowing even, but no-one has yet invented a way you can stay home, watch TV, pop a pill and see the fat slide off into a neat pile on the floor.

You be forgiven for thinking that the people who come up with the latest weight-loss methods are a bunch of sadists sitting around rubbing their hands in delight at the thought of the pain and frustration they are peddling. But fret ye not, the feeling that you're being slowly and excruciatingly tortured isn't necessary.

Foods that Reduce Stomach Fat

Some foods encourage your body to store fat around your middle, and other foods assist your body in burning excess fat. It's not so much about how much you eat, the types of foods you consume have a direct and noticeable result on your figure.

There are foods that contain chemicals that stress our bodies. Many of us have caffeine and nicotine habits and these are two popular stimulants. They quicken your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. This results in your body thinking it is in danger and it automatically reverts to the default, starvation setting, hanging on to every last calorie by storing them as tummy fat.

The culprit is a stress hormone produced by the body called cortisol. Cortisol's task in the big scheme is to take care of storing extra fat, especially around the waist. This kind of fat is notoriously nasty, and has been closely associated with heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Not the ideal scenario for losing tummy fat.

And if that's not enough, our insulin production doesn't help things. We produce insulin so our bodies can stabilize and balance their glucose. Sweet foods send a signal to your brain to release insulin to counter the glucose input. You get this message even if you don't need it because your blood glucose levels are already low or normal.

This is why many people say they feel hungry after eating foods with artificial sweeteners added. The insulin does what it was designed to do and lowers your blood glucose level, making you feel very hungry. This makes you want to over-eat, and that leads to more belly fat and so the cycle continues.

The foods that really help you lose tummy fat are those that don't send your pancreas gland into spasm and release gallons of insulin, and also don't send your body into preservation mode. The best fat-burning foods include highly nutritious, slow-to-digest foods, like whole grain breads and pastas, beans and pulses, very lean meat or tofu, whole eggs, oily fish, whole nuts, leafy, green vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, fibrous fruits, avocados and olive oil.

If quitting caffeine altogether is never going to happen, perhaps a change to green tea instead of coffee would be possible. Green tea comes with health-benefit laden, age-defying phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants included, and it has just enough caffeine to pop open your eyes in the morning but not enough to keep you awake at night.

Exercises that Help Reduce Tummy Fat

Naturally you can't depend entirely on your diet to reveal the sculpted torso that you imagine having. You are going to have to do some exercise. Dieting without exercising means you will lower your body-fat percentage, but your body will be soft and mushy.

If that's your goal, fine, but I believe there is a better alternative. Better for you, better for your heart and your health and your self-esteem.

If you have any heart related issues, or it's 17 years since you did any cardio exercise more strenuous than changing the channel with the remote, better to check with your doctor first.

We've said that zeroing in on your belly fat alone is not feasible, but cardio and weight training exercises will decrease your overall body fat level.

It's dreadfully sad and horribly unfair that we can't zap off fat from anyplace we like with a hand-held, battery-powered, nano-tech, super-fat-zapper, however what is possible is to choose where we add muscle. There are exercises that focus on your tummy muscles, giving you a shapely six-pack that will emerge butterfly-like from it's chrysalis as soon as the extra surrounding fat is gone.

If you've been wondering why, after months, or even years, of sit-ups and stomach crunches you don't see anything resembling a six pack when you look in the mirror, my guess is it's there lurking behind a protective layer of fat. 1000 crunches a day isn't going to burn the fat off, for that you need cardio and strength training.

Doing some chest-focused exercises coupled with good carriage, will help hide your stomach, and good posture is important for your over-all health too.

Standing side-on in front of a mirror, relax, raise your chest slightly and pull your shoulders back a little. Your stomach should now look flatter. It's not a solution to any fat problem, but it's a good habit to get into. This is how we should all hold ourselves. Shoulders back but relaxed, chest out, head up and face the world with pride and confidence.

Plan Your Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat

Pick a cardio exercise, any cardio exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming, squash, tennis, aerobics, dancing. Anything you like. Martial arts, yoga, playing with the kids, walking the dog, garden chores. It'll work if it raises your heart-rate to about 70% of your maximum and you keep it up it at least 30 minutes. You can check your body mass index and calculate your optimum heart-rate with the BMI calculator.

Choose an activity you enjoy, and do it for a minimum of three hours a week, six hours is better. Your heart health will appreciate it and the fat will start to retreat.

Strength (anaerobic) training is also crucial if you want to lose belly fat. Having a fast metabolism and plenty of lean muscle mass encourages your body to burn calories faster, even when you are resting, so you store less fat. Pick a strength training program and do it for upwards of half an hour, every other day.

The B's and the T's work well together. That is Back and Biceps, ChesT and Triceps. Conveniently, the exercises for the biceps also benefit the back, and vice versa. You can slot legs in with abs, and shoulders with buttocks, or something like that. Rest for 30 seconds between sets, and for several days between the same muscle groups.

For muscle toning, lighter weights and multiple reps are the thing, but for building muscle you need more weight and fewer reps so that you reach the infamous 'burn'.

Do it gently, but repeat each exercise until the burn starts. Give that muscle group a break until its turn comes round again. It's during the resting period that the muscle building occurs. The 'burn' is what you feel when the muscle is torn a little and as it fixes itself it increases in size.

Stay Hydrated!

All the time. Your body cannot work efficiently if it's not getting enough fresh water. The fat will burn off more easily if you drink plenty of fluids. The 'average' is about 4 pints a day, or up to 1 fl.oz per pound of body weight.

Now, let's take action, Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan

All the best and good luck


Street Talk

Love your piece. This is highly informative and certainly speaks to why I might not be losing that nasty belly fat. Will implement some of your recommentations

  about 7 years ago
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