From herbal teas to pumping iron, the web is awash with tips for banishing belly fat, but do they really work? While the weight-loss advice you’ll encounter on social media may be well-meaning, it isn’t always evidence-based. The following tips are backed by scientific research. Not only will they withstand scrutiny, but when incorporated into an active lifestyle, they’ll deliver tangible results you can see for yourself.
Shifting excess weight from around your waist isn’t just about vanity – it’s about common sense. Scores of scientific studies have revealed the heightened health risks that are synonymous with belly fat. These include increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, on account of the visceral fat surrounding your internal organs that is notoriously stubborn to shift. Thankfully, the evidence doesn’t lie: the strategies you’re about to read have been proven to work.
Control portion sizes
Portion control is a common culprit when dieters scratch their heads over lack of progress. It doesn’t matter if you’re training hard and eating clean: overly-generous portioning will keep the fat glued to your midsection. If you’re struggling to gauge portion sizes, try using a food tracker app that will count the calories for you. Exercise restraint when heaping food onto your plate (or returning for second helpings) and you’ll eat fewer calories, creating the deficit needed to steadily chip away at that unwanted bulge.
Eat more fibre
Soluble fibre soaks up water and helps you feel fuller for longer. Studies have repeatedly shown that fibre slows digestion, and in doing so keeps hunger pangs at bay. High fibre foods such as whole oats, barley, nuts, seeds and beans act as a natural appetite suppressant, which in turn aids weight loss.
Make protein a cornerstone
There’s a reason bodybuilders eat so much chicken, turkey and fish: because high-protein diets help to build lean muscle tissue and maintain low body fat. Studies have emphatically shown that individuals who eat more and better protein carry less belly fat, so aiming to pack in the protein with every meal is a no-brainer. Try a protein powder such as Healthy Whey, which contains 20 grams of protein per serving, complemented by magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin D and zinc.
Cut the sugar
Ditch refined sugars by prioritising lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and protein-rich dairy such as cottage cheese. In doing so, you’ll avoid blood sugar spikes and the stowing of glycogen in fat stores. The fructose to be found in sugar has been linked to type 2 diabetes and liver disease, while even supposedly healthier sugars are liable to cause weight gain, much of which will be stored around your midriff.
Drink green tea
Green tea has long been synonymous with weight loss, but you may be surprised to learn why this is the case. Its antioxidants exert a number of positive effects on the body, breaking down fat cells and supporting thermogenesis, in which food is converted into energy. Green tea also contains caffeine, which has been shown to help raise the body’s metabolic rate. For those who are taken with its effects but less enamoured with its taste, green tea is also available in capsule form, forming a key ingredient of metabolic supplements such as Thermoblaze.
Cut back on alcohol
If there’s one pursuit that’s certain to deposit fat where you least want it, it’s excessive alcohol consumption. Cutting back on both the days you drink and the quantity will make a world of difference to your waistline. While most people will be reticent to eliminate alcohol altogether, reducing your intake is one of the best things you can do for your body.
Hit the weights
Weight training, also known as weight lifting or resistance training, is important for preserving and shifting stubborn fat. In addition to burning calories, regular weight training can permanently lift your metabolic rate, enabling your body to burn more calories every day. When strength training forms part of your exercise routine, fat loss is sure to follow.
All exercise is good exercise, but there’s one activity that’s been found to burn fat faster – High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT doesn’t just increase calorie burn: it also shifts fat twice as quickly as other forms of exercise involving the same caloric expenditure. Every time you complete a HIIT session, you’re increasing your body’s efficiency at burning fat and elevating your metabolism for up to 24 hours.
Most people are aware of the dangers of elevated stress, which produces excess cortisol that leads to increased fat storage. It stands to reason that reducing stress will benefit your body composition as well as your mood. While powerless to avoid stressful situations altogether, we can learn to mitigate them by engaging in calming counter-measures. Whether that’s breathing exercises, meditation or a walk in the park, find a system that works for you and turn to it whenever stress comes calling.
Get plenty of sleep
Studies have consistently shown a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain, with less than seven hours per night attributed to increased susceptibility to storing belly fat. It’s not just about the quantity of sleep you get either – quality also matters. In addition to leaving you feeling fatigued, poor sleep will slow your metabolism, which can hinder recovery and cause muscle loss. A good night’s sleep is one luxury you can’t go without.
Sustainable weight loss calls for perseverance on your part. The more of these strategies you can implement, the greater the likelihood of you achieving that goal. Develop healthier habits and it’s only a matter of time until you develop a slimmer waistline.