You may want to shed your belly fat because you want to look better in your favorite dress or favorite pair of jeans. But did you know that losing weight around your abdomen can also have a huge impact on your health? Reducing belly fat can cut your risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some effective ways you can trim the excess weight around your middle to look your best and protect your health every day:
Pick up some weights. Years ago, it was thought that trimming the waistline meant ab exercises. Today, we know that losing weight around your middle isn’t about doing sit-ups. Recent research shows that the best belly-fat trimming workouts involve weight training. When we lift weights, we increase muscle and build up strength, and that cuts down fat all over, including in our midsections.
Eat MUFAs. Eating for a flat belly doesn’t mean depriving yourself and eating only low-fat or no-fat foods. On the contrary, some of the best foods for reducing tummy fat are delicious foods that contain healthy fat. Foods such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil, are rich in MUFAs, or monounsaturated fatty acids; these fats have been shown to be helpful in reducing your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, and are thought to help you lose fat, particularly in the belly. Research shows that including MUFAs in every meal helps you burn more belly fat.
Fuel up with fucoxanthin. This weight loss supplement is a seaweed extract that activates a protein called UCP1, which helps burn abdominal fat. One recent study found that people who took 300 mg. of fucoxanthin daily were able to lose up to 12 pounds of belly fat in 16 weeks.
Get some whole grains in your diet. Including oatmeal, popcorn, whole-grain rice, and other whole grains in your diet is not only good for your cardiovascular health, but may help cut down the fat in your belly, too. Research shows that people who eat more whole grains lose more abdominal fat than those who do not eat whole grains in their diets.
Eat an apple a day. That old saying about apples keeping the doctor away may have some truth to it, and apples may also keep your belly flatter, too. The fiber in fruits like apples and berries keep you full longer so that you’re less likely to overeat at mealtime or snack on unhealthy options in-between meals.
Eat bigger meals to rev up your metabolism. In one study, women who ate three well-balanced meals a day that were filling enough so that they didn’t need to snack in-between meals were able to lose up to 9 pounds of fat from their abdominal areas in 6 months.
Banish stress. Stress—especially when it’s chronic—has been linked to increased risk of having excess belly fat. Chronic stress causes the body to produce too much cortisol, the stress hormone, which is thought to lead to an increase in abdominal fat. To reduce stress, try meditation, which has been shown in a University of California, San Francisco study to lower belly fat when practiced regularly.