Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Staying Healthy: Losing Belly Fat.

Staying healthy is always a good idea. Not only can it lead to a longer time on this Earth with a far better quality of life, it can have financial benefits too. The better shape you're in, the less you'll be paying for your insurance as your lessened risk to the insurer results in lower premiums, more cover being available to you and less exclusions for certain health conditions.

In this edition of our staying healthy series, we're going to look at effective ways of ridding yourself of that troubling belly fat. An ample waistline puts you at higher risk of serious health conditions including heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes. Excess abdominal fat triggers a change in the bodily hormone which controls blood vessel contraction, increasing the risk of dangerously high blood pressure, strokes and cardiac arrest. That's reason enough to shed those pounds right there.

Men are at higher risk for heart disease than woman, based on higher incidences of stomach fats.

1. Change your diet.

The calories your body consumes from protein are far more easily burned than the ones consumed from carbohydrates. In fact, up to 30% of the calories you consume from protein will be burned during the process of digestion. White meat from poultry and seafoods are good sources of leans protein for snacks and for meals. Try to substitute as many carbs as possible for healthier proteins and you'll make the task of burning that belly fat a whole lot easier. 

2. Stop over-eating.

It sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but our meals are often way too big, and if you're eating more calories than you're burning, you're gaining weight. It's as simple as that. Try using smaller dinner plates to avoid filling up; if it can't fit on your plate, you won't be eating it! Fill up your smaller plates and leave the rest as leftovers for another day. Also, try drinking a lot of water before eating. The water takes up space in your stomach so you won't have to consume as much to feel full. Eat little nutritious snacks in between meals so you won't feel the need to gorge at lunch or dinnertime. 

Smaller plates means less chance of over-eating. Try it out sometime!

3. Start walking!

Walking is an easy, low impact form of exercise that targets a broad variety of muscle groups, gets you active, burns calories and nearly everyone can do it! I personally have been walking a lot the last few months, over 25 km a week. Start by doing a half hour or a set distance per day at a time suitable to you (I find right when I get up before work is my preferred time) and then gradually build up over time as your fitness level improves. Apps like Runkeeper can be great motivational tools as they track your walk and tell you the distance travelled, amount of calories burned and a bunch of other cool stats.

4. Get the right amount of sleep per night.

A selection of studies have shown that the ideal sleep to prevent gaining of visceral belly fat is usually between 6 and 7 hours. People who got less than 5 as well as people who slept for more than 8 hours per night showed more visceral fat gain over a five year period.

Aim for 7 hours of sleep per night - that seems to be the weight loss sweet spot!

5. Don't just do crunches!

I know that when I start gaining a bit of weight around the middle, my first instinct is to start doing crunches. Whilst this may result in stronger abdominal muscles, it won't do much to handle the layer of belly fat on top. Better exercises are ones that work multiple muscle groups at a time. Try planking or the aforementioned walks or runs.

6. Manage your drinks intake.

Minimise soda, sugary drinks and milkshakes. Maximise water, tea and diet soda. Just a simple step like cutting out that can of Coke from your day can have an impact on your calorie intake and your weight loss. Everything counts!

Other entries in our Staying Healthy Series:

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