Belly fat: Ugh. Many of us have it and many would like to get rid of it!
The only problem is it can be difficult to shed that extra weight around our middles, which seems to cling there no matter how hard we try.
While most people would love slim down their middles purely for aesthetic reasons, experts say there are significant health risks that can arise from extra belly fat – even more of a reason to work it off.
Doctors say belly fat can be a precursor to health issues such as bowl cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are already all too common today.
Holistic Health Coach Sarah Hopkins says the real problem here is visceral fat – fat that sits deep in the abdominal cavity putting internal organs like liver, pancreas and intestines at risk.
“Belly fat around the belly is typically indicative of an accumulation of visceral fat,” she told Starts at 60.
“Visceral fat is the ‘unwanted’ fat that puts us at a higher risk of modern diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer.
So how can you get rid of this unwanted belly fat? Hopkins says diet and exercise play important roles, but it’s the right foods and exercises that make all the difference.
“Reducing belly fat around the mid section is multi-faceted, but diet plays a critical role in this,” she says. “Avoiding highly processed and refined foods is the best way to reduce excess belly fat.
Processed foods are typically high in sugar and toxic fats and can promote the accumulation of these fats. Eating a diet that is mainly comprised of whole foods will help to reduce this dangerous fat.”
She says people should stick to “eating mostly vegetables, fruit, grass fed meats, seafood and nuts and seeds.”
When it comes to exercise, you can thankfully forget having to run yourself ragged! While intense cardio workouts are great for dropping weight all over, when it comes to belly fat targeted slow burning exercises are better.
“Building lean muscle mass also helps to burn undesirable fat so resistance training is the best exercise to focus on,” Hopkins says. “Belly fat can also be an indication of high levels of stress in the body so being mindful of the type of exercise is important.
“Walking is a great compliment to resistance training and doesn’t put the body under any additional stress.”
This means strapping on your walking shoes and going for a solid 20-30 minute walk at least three times a week. Things like sit ups, yoga and resistance band training will also help.
If you want to keep it off long term, Hopkins says the best thing to do is JERF: Just Eat Real Food.
“The best foods to maintain low belly fat and a healthy body weight are the same as those recommended to reduce it,” she says. “Focussing on unrefined and unprocessed whole foods is the best way to maintain health and weight for the long term.”