5 Ways to Lose Belly Fat

You know that when it come to your diet, not all fat is created equal. Fats with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) such as olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids like the kind you find in fish oil are actually good for your heart, while lipids such as trans fats have been shown to contribute to cardiovascular diseases. The same is true for body fat. While some fat accumulations can be useful—think subcutaneous fat that helps keep your body warm—fat that accumulates in other areas can be harmful, throwing your hormones out of whack and even boosting your risk of heart disease. That’s the case with belly fat. Also known as visceral fat, the type found deep in your abdomen, an excess of belly fat can lead to insulin resistance and increase your risk of diabetes; it can also impair the liver’s ability to deal with cholesterol, leading to heart disease.

There are ways to learn how to lose body fat and reduce belly fat, though. Here are five ways to attack the fat and get back on the path to wellness.

Cut Back on Alcohol

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There’s a reason they call it a beer belly: Experts say alcohol gets in the way of the stomach’s ability to burn off alcohol. The result is that calories from alcohol are more likely than calories from other sources to be stored as visceral fat, adding to your belly. One drink or so will probably get burned off quickly, but if you’re overdoing it, you’re adding to your belly.

Eliminate Trans Fats from Your Weight Loss Diet

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The Food and Drug Administration has decreed a ban on the use of trans fats in food products starting in 2018, but you shouldn’t wait to eliminate the man-made fat from your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose belly fat. In a study at Wake Forest University, monkeys who were fed trans fats gained four times as much weight as monkeys fed MUFAs, and had 30 percent more visceral fat than the group that ate the MUFAs. Researchers theorize that the body just plain doesn’t know what to do with trans fats, so it stores it as visceral fat. If you want to avoid all trans fats, skip products that list hydrogenated oils as ingredients, and avoid fried foods in restaurants and fast food joints.

Don’t Smoke
If you needed another reason to stop smoking, consider that nicotine, the highly addictive and harmful substance found in tobacco smoke, has been found to have the same abdominal anti-fat-burning properties as alcohol. Even smokers who aren’t overweight have more abdominal fat than non-smokers.

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Exercise
Add this to the list of benefits of regular exercise: it may have a greater effect on the elimination of belly fat cells than on other types of fat cells. That same Wake Forest study found that exercisers lost belly fat more quickly than other types of fat, which may be a reaction to the fact that belly fat cells tend to be larger than other fat cell types. So if you want to lose belly fat, start moving. Walk, run, ride, dance, take the stairs—it’s all good.

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Make Good Sleep a Priority
Research from Columbia University found that women who get five hours a sleep a night were twice as likely to be obese as women who get at least seven hours. Lack of sleep can make you feel hungrier because fatigue suppresses production of the hormone that makes you feel full; you may be especially vulnerable to cravings for sweet and salty foods. Another bad effect: lack of sleep can lead to the production of the stress hormone cortisol, the presence of which some studies suggest is linked to the production of belly fat.

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Click here to see the “Flavor-Pairing” trick that helped me melt away 22 pounds in just 16 days (proven for women only)

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