It is very common in both men and women that the one area of the body they find unpleasant is their belly.
If you are going on beach holiday or summer is on its way, most adults would love to have a flat stomach or a six pack!
Although some people won’t admit it, those of us that are unhappy with our bodies and the way we look, can’t wait for winter time when we can wear baggy jumpers and jackets to hide our bellies.
But it is possible to lose belly fat, namely that unwanted spare tire!
A lot of people think you have to follow a special diet or eat specific foods to target belly fat but this just isn’t the case.
There is no magic bullet or top secret method and normally when people start to lose weight, they will lose belly fat first!
The fat that poses the most danger is the fat that is situated in between and aside your other organs, not the stuff where you can ‘pinch an inch.’
Research has suggested that this fat that is around the abdomen has been linked with cardiovascular disease, cancer and also diabetes.
One way to check and see if you are on the way for having type 2 diabetes is to use a tape measure and measure your waist. Measure the area that is level with your bellybutton.
If you are a man and your measurement is bigger than 40 inches, this is considered unhealthy. If you are a woman and your measurement is greater than 35 inches, this is considered unhealthy.
A lot of us have been going by our BMI (body mass index) as an indication if we are in good shape and at risk of health factors such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
However, some researchers are now discovering that the measurement of our weight in relationship to our height (BMI) could be misleading and inaccurate.
The main reason for this is because your BMI does not take into account muscle mass, it goes on your total weight.
Muscle ways more than fat, therefore 2 people could have the same BMI but one person could have a much higher percentage of body fat than the person that simply had a lot more muscle.
Research has shown that if you have more fat in your abdominal area rather than other areas such as your thighs, hips etc, this can increase the risk of colon cancer.
The reason for this is because belly fat is metabolically active and can raise certain hormones that disturb cell progression.
A waist to hip ratio is what is used today by physicians and scientists to assess risk in men and women.
They take a measurement of your waist and divide it by your hip size. If you are above 0.90 for men and 0.85 for women this indicates a higher risk as is greater than average.
In order to get your ratio, measure your waist at your belly button, your hips where they are the widest and follow this equation: 28/38=0.73.
Now how do we get rid of this belly fat? It’s simple really when we think about it. Weight loss is an balance between calories that we have eaten and calories that we have burned.
If we eat more calories than we burn off, we will gain weight. If we burn more calories than we eat we will lose weight.
Studies show that if you are currently burning more calories than you are eating and you follow a diet with a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats such as nuts and seeds and avocados, this can prevent the build-up of body fat.
However, if you are eating a high calorie diet and also eating monounsaturated fats it is not likely that you will lose your belly fat.
Eating foods such as apples and oats will reduce belly fat levels as these contain soluble fiber’s which can decrease the presence of cortisol, therefore reducing the amount of belly fat.
Trans fats like cookies and margarine and crackers should be avoided where possible as they will produce more belly fat.
Some things we are unable to control like menopause. The fat that is distributed because of this or other life events is out of our control, however we can control the level of fat that we have in our bodies.
If we try and keep this as low as possible, it doesn’t matter where it goes on the body, what matters is there isn’t a lot of it.
The main thing that is going to help reduce your overall belly fat is exercise and core muscle exercises.
A lot of fad diets will say that by eating a certain type of food every day you will drop the fat in your belly and this just isn’t true.
“Following a reduced calorie diet will help you lose the fat around your abdomen quicker and before anywhere else on your body.”
The more you exercise your core muscles, the quicker you will notice a positive difference and start to see those abs taking shape!
MayoClinic: Belly Fat in Men: Why Weight Loss matters
MedlinePlus: Belly Fat May Hit Your Heart the Hardest
Washington University: Belly Fat May Drive Inflammatory Processes Associated with Disease
University of Michigan: Missing Link Between Belly Fat and Heart Disease
Harvard Health Publications: Belly Fat and What to Do About it