Belly fat, otherwise known as abdominal fat, is a metabolically active fat that accumulates in the upper body.While it is normal to have some belly fat, too much of it has detrimental effects on health.
This article is all about belly fat. For those who wish to know everything about belly fat, this is a lucky find.Follow this guide to lose belly fat fast at home.
You will understand what is abdominal fat; its types, causes, and ill effects.
Be sure to read the sections on how to reduce belly fat, as you will explore various options for food, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Types Of Belly Fat
What many people are not aware of is that there are two types of fats, which constitute what we commonly call belly fat.
The fat stored just below the skin is called subcutaneous fat.
The other fat is deep within the abdominal cavity, surrounding the internal organs such as the liver, lungs, intestines, kidneys, and pancreas. It is known as visceral fat.
The term belly fat does not differentiate between subcutaneous or visceral fat types.
Subcutaneous fat comprises of not only adipose (fat) tissues but even blood vessels that supply oxygen to the skin. It is also an energy store for the body and protects the skin from trauma. This type of fat is what is visible to us and can be pinched. Excess subcutaneous fat makes the skin tight and stretched. Subcutaneous fat is not always hazardous to health
Visceral fat cushions the internal organs. This type of fat is not visible to us and is difficult to identify.
However, it can be quite dangerous. This fat releases compounds including stress hormones, which interfere with the body’s metabolism, also leading to many diseases. Excess visceral fat also increases the production of inflammatory substances known as cytokines. These disturb hormone cycles, thereby affecting appetite and weight balance, mood and brain functions.
Analysing Belly Fat
Being thin does not mean that you are free from visceral fat since this type of fat is deep within the body.
There are no perfect and efficient means to distinguish between subcutaneous and visceral fat. CT scans can tell the two apart, but the option is not economical.
While it is difficult to identify the type of belly fat you have, it is quite essential to find out if your belly fat can put you at risk.
Here are a few aspects to help you better analyze belly fat:
a. Waist Circumference
The simplest way of identifying unhealthy belly fat this is by finding your waist circumference.
The waist circumference can indicate your risk of developing health issues like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases and stroke.
Waist circumference is the measurement of your midsection. Studies show that waist circumference is a better indicator of the risk of health problems than body mass index (BMI).
This is not a direct measure of the abdominal fat percentage. However, regularly recording your waist circumference can help you to track any changes over time.
To measure your waist circumference, first stand in an upright posture, with the arms held loosely on either side of your body.
You have to measure now your waist, which is just above the hip bone, at the belly button. To make sure that you measure at the right position, place the hands on your hips and bend to one side. The site where the upper body bends from is the waistline, which you will measure.
Use a flexible tape to measure the girth at the waist while ensuring that the tape measure is level. The tape should just touch your skin and not be held to tight. This is your waist circumference measurement.
A waist circumference of 35 inches (89 cm) or above in women and 40 inches (102 cm) or above in men, means an unhealthy belly fat with a high risk of health problems. You would want to maintain waist measurements less than these limits to stay healthy.
b. Waist To Hip Ratio
This is the ratio of the circumference of your waist to the circumference of your hips. This value should be less than 1 for men and less than 0.8 for women.
c. Body Shape
Pear-shaped people have fat deposits in the lower extremities such as thighs, buttocks, and hips, while apple- shaped means more fat in the upper region at the waistline. The pear shape may be safer, as compared to the apple- shape, which indicates a wider waistline.
d. Family Medical History
Individuals whose families have medical histories of heart disease, insulin resistance, or fatty liver may have higher chances of visceral fat deposition.
What Are The Side Effects Of Belly Fat?
While we all agree that belly fat is unsightly, there is more to it just than the aspect of appearance. It can also increase one’s risk of developing many diseases:
- High Blood Pressure
- Diabetes type 2 and insulin resistance
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
- Cancers such as colon, rectum, prostate, and breast cancers.
- Lipid disorders such as high triglyceride levels and low HDL-cholesterol. This increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Sleep disturbances
- Sexual problems
How Does Belly Fat Develop?
Take a look at the various factors that lead to belly fat:
- Foods containing sugar, sweetened beverages
Regular consumption of sugary foods, high levels of fructose, processed foods, carbonated drinks, foods containing artificial sweeteners are common causes of belly fat. These have also been associated with reduced insulin sensitivity, lower metabolic rates, and weight gain. The high amounts of sugar in carbonated beverages increase hunger and food cravings, making you eat more than required.
High consumption of saturated fats is harmful and results in a higher visceral fat deposition. Trans fats, used to extend the shelf lives of packaged foods are unhealthy. These increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Heavy consumption of alcohol leads to excess belly fat, besides increasing the risk of diseases.
- Physical Inactivity
A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of developing unhealthy belly fat. Regular physical activity reduces belly fat.
Changes in hormone levels during menopause leads to fat deposition at the abdomen. This is a common reason for belly fat in older women.
Developing belly fat may be influenced by genetic factors, also increasing the risk of obesity. Genes also play a role in determining the shape of the body that affects fat deposition.
- Eating late night
Going to bed or reclining on a full stomach can lead to belly fat. This affects the efficient digestion of the foods, also resulting in indigestion.
In situations of stress, the adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone initiates and regulates responses in the body to deal with the stress.
Some people overeat when stressed out. These excess calories tend to be stored as belly fat.
Cortisol production lasts for a short duration, following which all functions and working of the body are restored to normal. However, in case of constant stress, there is an excess production of cortisol which has undesirable effects on the body. High amounts of cortisol are linked to more visceral fat deposition.
- Lack of sleep
Lack of sleep, poor quality sleep and sleep disorders can lead to weight gain and abdominal fat. Individuals getting 5 hours of lesser duration of sleep have been found to put on more weight.
How To Reduce Belly Fat Naturally At Home?
Now that you have understood what is belly fat and its ill effects, you must be wondering how to get rid of it.
We shall look at a few approaches to effectively reduce belly fat.
1. Dietary Modification To Lose Abdominal Fat
Avoid Sugar And Sweetened Drinks
As we have seen that such foods are common factors leading to excess belly fat, it is best to cut down on these.
Limit the intake of processed foods, which contain added sugar, as it produces harmful effects in the body. Too much-refined sugar disturbs the balance of insulin and sugar breakdown by the liver, and it is accumulated as belly fat.
Keep track of the sugars in packaged foods, by checking their labels.
Refrain from consuming sweetened drinks such as soda, sports drinks with high sugar content, punch, and fruit juices, which have high fructose content. The body responds to liquid sugars in a manner that is different from solid sugars and increases your chances of consuming excess calories, which later accumulate as fat.
If you crave for something sweet, try alternatives like dark chocolate, honey, or dried fruits.
ii. Control Calorie Intake
Limiting the intake of carbohydrates plays a major role in losing belly fat. Low-carb diets lead to better and quicker weight loss by controlling appetite.
This is an effective step towards reducing belly fat around the organs. Cutting down carbohydrate intake will induce the body to burn up the stored fat to fuel the metabolic activities.
Control your intake of foods such as rice, white bread, pasta, chips, and crackers that are high in carbohydrates. Opt for whole grains, which are rich in fiber and keep you full.
iii. Eat less Fat
Avoid saturated fats and trans fats (hydrogenated fats). These are more likely to leave you with excess abdominal fat.
Check food labels to identify and avoid foods containing trans fats. You may opt for polyunsaturated fats, which is found in fish, seeds, and nuts. While saturated fats deposit as visceral fat, polyunsaturated fats form muscle.
iv. Increase Protein Intake
People who consume diets high in protein are less likely to develop excess belly fat. Proteins leave you feeling full and enhances metabolism. High protein intake also helps to reduce visceral fat.
These control your appetite and calories intake, thereby helping to lose excess fat. It can help you to maintain a healthy weight following weight loss.
Include these protein-rich foods in your diet: legumes, fish, seafood, dairy products, egg, and meat.
v. Keep Full With Fiber
Adding more fiber to your diet reduces keeps you full, reduces calorie intake, and helps in weight loss.
Soluble fiber combines with water to form a gel that slows the movement of food during digestion. This leaves you feeling full for longer and reduces hunger.
Fiber is effective in reducing visceral fat.
Sources of fiber include beans, peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, whole grains like barley, millets and oatmeal, chia seeds, flaxseeds, avocado, blackberries, and raspberries.
vi. Drink water
Keep yourself well hydrated, to maintain body temperature and other functions.
Drinking plenty of water keeps you full so that you eat less.
2. Exercises To Lose Belly Fat Quickly
Your efforts to lose excess belly fat would not be complete without exercise. Exercise complements your dietary modifications in helping you to cut down on abdominal fat deposition.
Exercise also helps to maintain a healthy weight, by preventing people from regaining belly fat after weight loss. So how to get moving?
i. Cardiovascular Exercises
Get into activities that pump up your heart rates: jogging, brisk walking, running, swimming, biking, or aerobics.
Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective means to lose visceral fat. These help you to shed some calories, boost metabolism, and improve overall health.
Ensure that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise a week. Exercise for about 250-300 minutes every week show better results.
By selecting an exercise that you enjoy, you are more likely to continue with it.
ii. Strength Training
Strength training builds up muscle, tones the body and burns out fat. Strength or resistance training can complement cardiovascular exercise.
Include two or three days of strength training every week. Do exercises that involve the entire body and exercise major muscle groups. You can incorporate activities that focus on the abdominal muscles, for a flat tummy.
You would gradually begin to see improvements.
Here are some moves to get rid of the excess belly fat:
- Lie on your back with your face up. Place your arms on the sides with palms facing down.
- Bend your legs at 90 degrees, such that your feet are above the floor.
- Then slowly bring your bent legs to the far left, while the shoulders remain on the floor.
- After a few seconds, get back to the mean position.
- Next, repeat this step to the right side. Repeat this exercise about 20 times, alternating between the sides. This helps to lose fat and maintain a toned tummy.
- Lie on your stomach clasp hands behind the waist.
- Now lift the head and shoulders off the ground, going as far as you feel comfortable.
- Hold this position for a while, then relax and get back to normal. You may place your hands along either side of the body.
- Lie on your stomach face down, and support your upper body on the elbows and hands.
- Then lift the body off the floor, with only the toes touching the floor.
- Hold this position for some time, keeping your body straight all the while.
- Slowly lower your body and relax. Repeat the exercise.
- Raising one leg at a time while performing this exercise can be an additional challenge.
Get moving and remain physically active throughout the day. You may also incorporate small durations of exercise between your daily activities.
3. Yoga Poses To Lose Belly Fat
Let us explore some yoga poses that not only help to curb excess belly fat, but also maintain breathing and balance. These poses engage the muscles in the abdomen and get your tummy in shape.
Please note that you should avoid practicing these poses if you suffer from pain in the back, hips or joints. These are not suitable for individuals with high blood pressure, heart problems, those who recently underwent surgery, and pregnant women.
i. Cobra Pose-Bhujangasana
This strengthens the abdominal muscles, the back, and spine.
- Lie down on your stomach with legs stretched out and palms placed under the shoulders facing downwards.
- Keep your chin and toes on the floor, with elbows held close to the body.
- Inhale and slowly lift your chest up, bending backward.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, depending on your comfort.
- Then exhale, slowly getting back to the original position, flat on the floor.
- Relax for 15 seconds and repeat this five times.
ii. Bow Pose-Dhanurasana
The bow pose strengthens and tones the muscles in the abdomen, back, thighs, and chest. It improves the overall functioning of the body and helps to manage stress.
- Lie down on your stomach with the chin resting on the floor and outstretched legs.
- Inhale and simultaneously lift your legs, bending them at the knees, in the direction of the buttocks. Hold the ankles with the hands.
- Now slowly raise the chest and head off the floor.
- Remain in this position for 20 seconds, holding your breath.
- Slowly exhale and return to the original position. Repeat this pose ten times.
iii. Boat Pose-Naukasana
This pose is a workout for the entire body while reducing belly fat. It strengthens the muscles in the legs, back, and abdomen.
- Sit down with the bent knees and feet on the floor. Place the hands beside the hips on either side, with fingers pointing towards the feet.
- Inhale and slowly move the upper body backward, balancing at the hips.
- Then lift your feet off the floor with the shins in level with the floor.
- Now stretch the arms forward, parallel to the floor.
- After holding this position for some time, straighten your legs, raising them without bending the knees.
- Hold this pose for 15 seconds, and then relax. Repeat this five times.
iv. Wind Relieving Pose-Pavanamukthasana
This pose strengthens the abdomen, hips, and thighs. It improves metabolism, aids digestion and reduces lower back pain.
- Lie on your back with legs stretched out, resting the arms at your sides.
- While exhaling, bend one knee and gradually bring it towards the chest.
- Bring the thigh towards the abdomen with clasped hands. Keep the other leg straight.
- Inhale and raise your head and shoulders to touch the knee with your nose.
- After holding this position for a few seconds, exhale and lower your head and leg. Return to the starting position.
- Repeat this step with the other leg, followed by doing this step with both legs.
- Do this pose for four rounds.
v. Mill Churning Pose-Chakki Chalanasana
Besides reducing belly fat, this poses tones the back, arm and thigh muscles. It also strengthens the chest and uterus and improves digestion.
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out and spread apart.
- Then stretch out your arms in front of your chest, interlocking the fingers.
- Now rotate the hands in circles, following clockwise direction.
- Keep the legs straight, breathing in during the forward motion and breathing out when you move backward.
- After doing this motion for ten rounds, repeat it in the opposite direction. Finally relax and breath steadily.
vi. Board / Plank Pose -Kumbhakasana
This pose burns belly fat while strengthening the back, shoulders, arms, thighs, and buttocks.
- Get in the push-up position with feet hip-width apart, hands shoulder-width apart.
- Keep the head, neck, spine, buttocks, and heels in a straight line.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling them in.
- Hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Then release and drop to the knees.
- Relax for 15 seconds before doing this pose again, repeating five times.
Lifestyle Changes To Reduce Belly Fat
Besides taking necessary steps to improve your diet and regular exercise, you also need to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Examine your daily activities, check your bad habits and incorporate necessary changes. Here are a few things to help you:
1. Keep Stress At Bay
The working of cortisol produced during stress results in fat deposition in the abdomen. It may also lead to overeating for comfort.
Keep away from stress and avoid situations that leave you stressed out.
Better time management can help you to avoid worrying about deadlines.
Also, explore various ways to manage stress. Find out what works best for you and practice it regularly.
Breathing is one way of managing stress. Relax for a few minutes daily by taking deep breaths. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. This helps you to clear your mind and make you feel better.
You may find it comforting to spend time with family or friends. Other options to reduce stress include meditation, music, yoga, and exercise.
2. Get Sufficient Sleep
Adequate sleep is essential to fight excess belly fat. Not getting enough sleep increases cortisol production, makes you hungry, causes belly fat deposition and weight gain.
Sleep ensures a stable rhythm of the body clock and ensures normal functioning.Sleep for around six to eight hours every night.
While the sleep duration matters, sleep quality too is an important aspect. Poor quality of sleep makes you grumpy and feel tired all the time, plays around with your appetite and leads to weight problems.
Sleep with lights turned out. Keep away from electronic devices before going to bed.
Do not oversleep on your day off. This disrupts your regular body cycle. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
It would be better to quit alcohol to reduce fat deposition at the abdomen. In any case, refrain from binge drinking. If you find it difficult to quit completely, the least, you would want to do to reduce the quantity and frequency of intake.
4. Maintain Posture
Practise and maintain good posture throughout the day. Avoid slouching and other bad practices.
Foods To Include In Your Diet To Reduce Belly Fat
Eating nuts keep you feeling satisfied and reduces excess belly fat. These are rich in protein and fiber. Nuts contain good fats and magnesium that helps to balance the sleep cycle and enhance the working of the immune system.
Walnuts are a source of omega-3 fatty acid, which burns fat. Almond rich in calcium.Avoid eating salted nuts as it can increase blood pressure.
b. Dairy Products
Milk and dairy products are full of calcium. Calcium has been found to aid weight loss and fight abdominal fat, an especially visceral fat that lies deep inside. It also protects the muscles and helps you to get good sleep.
Oatmeal is rich in fiber that keeps you full and reduces your calorie intake. It reduces abdominal fat without raising blood sugar levels.
Avoid refined, flavored or sweetened varieties of oats.
Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, besides being protein-rich. Omega-3 fatty acid fights belly fat, improves heart health, and reduces the risk of many other diseases.
Fish to include in your diet to reduce belly fat include salmon, sardine, herring, and mackerel.
In case you do not eat fish, ensure your omega-3 fatty acid intake by eating chia seeds. These are the best plant-based source of omega-3 fats.
e. Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are the good bacteria that enhance digestion and immunity. These help in cutting down belly fat aids weight loss and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Probiotic foods that you should consume are yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, brine-cured olives, and microalgae.
Cinnamon stimulates metabolism by producing heat and reduces overall fat in the body.
You can include ground cinnamon in your regular diet; It can be used in combination with a variety of foods and beverages.
Avocado contains healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients. It reduces your food cravings and burns fat deposition around the waist.
Berries are full of fiber. Blueberries contain a compound known as anthocyanin, which influences fat metabolism and burns abdominal fat.
Peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which makes them hot. It increases body heat, improves digestion, and burns up more fat and calories. Add hot peppers to your meals to curb belly fat.
Green tea and ginger tea along with adequate exercise help to lose belly fat.
Green tea contains catechins, which are antioxidants, that boost metabolism, and burn fat. Having 3-4 cups of green tea daily is effective in reducing belly fat.
Ginger tea improves digestion, boosts metabolism, and burns fat deposition. Ginger also suppresses the stress hormone cortisol.
To make ginger tea, add some freshly grated ginger to hot water and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Strain and add honey and lemon juice. You can consume ginger tea twice a day.
Try these methods; you will get a proper belly.