Eliminate Belly Fat Without Doing Crunches All the Time
February 11, 2018 | 2,007 views
By Dr. Mercola
Developing well-defined abdominal muscles motivates many people to work out. However, toned core muscles aren’t there just to make you look and feel good.
For starters, core muscles ensure that the spine is stabilized, consequently decreasing the risk for back pain, and serve as an “internal corset” that holds in the gut and delivers support to the spine. These muscles may also boost your ability to easily move and accomplish work with less pain, and enhance balance and stability.
Strengthening the abdominal muscles is only the start, and for many people eliminating stubborn belly fat is the biggest challenge of all. Although this is a daunting task for some, reducing belly fat pays off in the long run, since it may contribute to muscle-related and whole-body health benefits too.
Why Removing Excess Belly Fat Can Help Your Health
Not all body fat is equal, as different types are utilized for certain functions. There are two basic types of fat in the body: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the layer above your muscles and directly under the skin that jiggles and triggers cellulite. When checking for estimated total body fat, this layer of fat is measured using skin calipers.
On the other hand, visceral fat is found deeper within the body, and is wrapped around the organs. Visceral fat is more metabolically active, and some people with a body mass index (BMI) within normal levels can still have visceral fat. Excess amounts of visceral fat may appear in almost anyone, overweight or not.
Decreasing the amount of visceral fat in the body can be helpful because it may reduce the risk for the negative effects this type of fat may trigger. Metabolic risk factors, although these may be correlated to subcutaneous fat too, are more strongly linked to visceral fat. Authors of a 2007 Circulation article said that visceral fat is a “unique, pathogenic fat depot” that may lead to a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Furthermore, higher amounts of visceral fat around the waist, and not the hips, may raise a person’s risk for diseases. Reducing the amount of inches in this area may be helpful, since a lowered disease risk has been linked to men with a waist circumference of 40 inches or less, and for women with measurements of 35 inches or less.
Exercise: One of the Main Strategies to Reduce Belly Fat
If you’re determined to reduce visceral fat in your body, exercise, particularly high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can help you achieve this goal. HIIT was already proven by research to assist with burning more fat, compared to moderately paced exercise.
This type of workout can enhance muscle energy utilization and energy expenditure, leading to benefits like improved weight loss and, as mentioned, increased fat-burning potential. HIIT workouts may result in higher resting metabolic rate too, because muscle tissue will be able to burn three to five times more energy compared to fat tissue during a workout.
A variety of plank exercises can assist in developing your ab muscles and back. However, planks aren’t all that you should be doing. No single exercise is enough to ensure that all sets of abdominal muscles will be challenged. The best approach is to target each of the groups of the abdominal muscles with specific exercises. Don’t forget to perform the best workouts to help increase your muscle mass, and at the same time, reduce subcutaneous fat too.
Lose the Belly Fat With a Healthy Diet
The thing is, no matter how much exercise you do, if you fail to follow a proper diet, you won’t see any positive changes. The foods you eat play a major role in the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, fat and, most importantly, muscles. Remember that exercising your way out of an unhealthy and poor diet is impossible.
You must refrain from eating processed foods, minimize your net carbohydrate intake and avoid the wrong kinds of fats if you want to reduce belly fat. Consuming excessive amounts of sugars can lead to both insulin and leptin resistance (created by the fat cells) too.
In particular, leptin is just as important as insulin in checking your risk for Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. Leptin resistance may lead to negative changes by failing to read the body’s signals to burn fat or stop eating. As such, sugar cravings and hunger increase, and in the long run, may lead to overeating and higher amounts of accumulated fats in the body.
Be Careful With Your Calories
Not all the calories from the foods you eat have the same effect, since some may be metabolically different, depending on the source. For example, calories from processed fructose won’t produce the same effect as calories from healthy fats like coconut oil.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies and emeritus professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco’s endocrinology division, highlights that fructose tends to be isocaloric, but not isometabolic.
This means that although identical calorie counts may be recorded for fructose and glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose or fat, the metabolic effects are entirely different. This occurs because nutrients trigger different hormonal responses, which often determine how much fat the body will get from the food.
This is a major reason why calories derived from bread, refined sugars and processed foods may prompt overeating, compared to calories from whole vegetables, protein and fiber, all of which are known to reduce hunger.
Lose the Belly Fat With a Balanced Diet and Healthy Eating Habits
As mentioned earlier, net carbohydrates and processed foods must be avoided if you wish to eliminate belly fat. Both these foods may serve as precursors not only to belly fat accumulation, but other negative health impacts as well. Unrestricted amounts of fresh, organically grown and GMO-free vegetables, and moderate portions of grass fed and pasture-raised meats are better choices.
Don’t forget to consume healthy fats like grass fed butter, coconut oil, raw nuts, pasture-raised eggs, and olives and olive oil. Around 75 to 80 percent of my diet is fat, and I consume around 3,500 calories daily. This amount may be way above the typical daily recommendation of 2,400 to 2,800 calories for an active man of my age, but if my food intake goes below 3,500 calories, weight loss might happen because my body can efficiently burn fat.
Before you go ahead and consume high amounts of healthy fats, ensure that your body isn’t currently burning sugar as primary fuel first. If you significantly raise healthy fat consumption at once, it may not be beneficial and can cause weight gain, as the body hasn’t adapted to burning all the fat yet, which tends to be very high in calories.
If you want to speed up the body’s transition from burning sugar to burning fat as primary fuel, try intermittent fasting. This involves limiting your consumption of food to a specific timeframe within the day, and fasting for the remaining hours. For instance, if you plan to fast for 14 to 16 hours a day, you only have six to eight hours to consume at least two meals.
Fasting allows the body to drain its glycogen stores and move into fat-burning mode swiftly, and gives it a more balanced energy supply. Doing HIIT exercises alongside intermittent fasting may be helpful for people who wish to lose more fat too. You can also discover other potential ways to reduce your belly fat, aside from a nutrition-rich diet and vigorous exercise, by reading “Can Ab Exercises Actually Burn Belly Fat?”