The new year is approaching, and with it, the perennial promise to lose weight and finally “get in shape.”
But for many of us, that goal seems impossible to achieve. We may have already tried a million different diets or exercised until we were ready to drop, but the pounds just don't seem to budge.
But what if there was another way? What if there was a way to lose weight and improve your health without starving yourself or spending hours on the treadmill?
It turns out there is. And that way is losing stubborn belly fat.
What Is Belly Fat?
For most of us, belly fat is the hardest to lose. Unlike thigh or arm fat, belly fat is stored in a different place, and by learning the different types of belly fat and how to target them, you can finally start to see results.
Belly fat is actually two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous.
Visceral Fat: The Dangerous Fat
Visceral fat is a dangerous type of fat. It's the type that surrounds your organs and increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Because visceral fat is so close to your vital organs, it's challenging to get rid of.
Why? Because your body wants to protect those organs from damage, so it responds to visceral fat by flooding the area with estrogen.
Estrogen is a good thing if you're a woman trying to prevent osteoporosis, but not-so-good if you're trying to lose weight.
That extra estrogen will slow down your metabolism and encourage your body to hold on to fat, making it nearly impossible for you to lose weight.
What Is Subcutaneous Fat?
Subcutaneous fat is a less dangerous type of belly fat. It's the kind found underneath your skin and remains much easier to shed than visceral fat.
This fat isn't particularly dangerous or difficult to lose; it's simply less appealing than other types of body fat, which is why most people will do almost anything to avoid gaining it.
How Losing Weight Can Improve Your Health
Losing weight isn't just about looking good. It's about feeling good, too. And when it comes to your health, there are a lot of benefits to losing weight, even if you only lose a little bit.
You'll have more energy.
When you're carrying around extra weight, it's hard to move around and be active. Losing weight will give you more energy and make it easier for you to be active, which will help you lose even more weight in the long run.
You'll sleep better.
People who are overweight or obese often have trouble sleeping because their extra weight puts stress on their bodies, causes them to snore, and makes it difficult for them to get comfortable. Better sleep equates to more energy and better mental health.
You'll lower your risk for disease.
Excess weight is linked to a number of diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Losing weight can help reduce your risk for these diseases and improve your overall health.
You'll reduce your risk of cancer.
Carrying around extra weight means you're at a greater risk for certain types of cancer, including endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus) and colorectal cancer.
Your joints will feel better.
When you're overweight, your body puts extra stress on your joints, which can lead to pain and inflammation. Losing weight will take the pressure off your joints and make them feel better.
You'll reduce your risk of heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Carrying around extra weight puts you at greater risk for heart disease. Losing even a little bit of weight will help lower your risk.
Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will improve.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all associated with obesity because carrying around extra weight increases the stress on your body and makes it more difficult for your body to regulate blood sugar levels.
You'll feel better emotionally.
People who are overweight or obese often suffer from low self-esteem and depression. Losing weight can help boost your mood and make you feel better about yourself.
Men, Women, and Belly Fat
It's not just women who have to worry about belly fat. Men can develop a "beer belly" as well as other types of abdominal weight gain. It's important for both sexes to take control and start losing weight today.
For men, fat often collects around the belly first. Their bodies tend to produce more testosterone, which encourages muscles and encourages fat storage around the midsection.
Men are also susceptible to "middle-age spread," which means they gradually gain weight as they age (partly because muscle mass decreases over time).
Women typically store excess fat differently than men do. They tend to gain weight in their hips and thighs first, and only after they've gained quite a bit of weight will they start to store fat around their bellies.
This is because women have more estrogen than men. Estrogen encourages the body to store fat, especially in the midsection.
Fighting Stubborn Belly Fat
Fighting stubborn belly fat can be hard, but it's not impossible. If you are ready to make a change, here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Start being more active.
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce belly fat, and it doesn't have to be anything extreme.
Start by adding a little bit of activity to your day. Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day, or go for a 10-minute run. If you're feeling adventurous, try a Zumba or SoulCycle class (losing belly fat and building your muscles!)
2. Have a protein-packed breakfast every day.
Eating a protein-rich breakfast is one of the best ways to fight belly fat.
The body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digest carbohydrates or fats, so you'll start your day with a calorie deficit. Try making a protein-packed breakfast that includes eggs, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
3. Cut out processed carbs and sugars.
Processed carbs and sugars are some of the worst offenders when it comes to belly fat. They cause your blood sugar to spike, which can lead to cravings and overeating.
Cut out processed carbs and sugars from your diet, and replace them with fresh fruits and vegetables.
4. Drink plenty of water.
Water is essential for weight loss, and it's essential when you're trying to lose belly fat.
Drinking adequate amounts of water will help rid your body of excess sodium, which reduces bloat and water weight. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
5. Cut back on alcohol.
If you're serious about losing belly fat, cutting back on alcohol is one of the best things you can do.
Alcohol does absolutely nothing beneficial for your body, and it's packed with calories that are easily stored as belly fat. Try to limit yourself to two or three alcoholic drinks per week, or try eliminating them completely.
6. Take a probiotic supplement.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep your gut healthy and functioning properly. They can also help reduce belly fat. Try taking a probiotic supplement each day to help boost your gut health and reduce belly fat.
7. Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is crucial for weight loss, and it's especially important when you're trying to lose belly fat. Lack of sleep can cause your body to produce more cortisol, which encourages the storage of belly fat. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night.
8. Partner with a coach.
If you really want to lose belly fat and get in shape, hiring a coach can help. A coach will hold you accountable and keep you motivated when it's difficult for you to motivate yourself. They can help you with your workouts, too, so that they're more effective. Ask around at your gym to see if anyone offers coaching services.
Losing Weight and Playing the Long Game
Losing weight isn't easy, and it's not something that you can do overnight. It's important to stay motivated and focused on your goal.
Remember that the benefits of losing weight are worth the effort. Losing weight will help improve your health, make you feel better emotionally, and improve your quality of life. So don't give up, and don't be afraid to ask for help. You can do it!
With the right motivation and tools, you can start losing weight today. It only takes a little bit of effort to get started, and soon you'll start seeing results. Remember to stay patient and focused on your goal. Losing weight takes time, but the benefits are worth it!