Let’s face it, we all know being overweight isn’t great for our health. Carrying around a few extra pounds increases the stress on your heart, joints and more,
But here’s the thing, not all extra pounds are made the same.
In fact, recent research has revealed that a big belly is far more dangerous than carrying extra weight in other places on your body. It raises your risk for a number of serious illnesses.
And if you aren’t overweight don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe. According to experts even thin folks with a spare tire are at higher risk.
Unfortunately belly fat is some of the easiest weight to gain and the hardest to lose, with a bunch of hidden belly-fat builders threatening to sabotage your efforts.
Following are five sneaky things that could be standing in the way of you shedding your spare tire once and for all.
1. Getting the wrong amount of sleep:
Getting too little sleep, less than six hours, or getting too much sleep, more than eight, have both been linked to having a bigger waistline. Aim for a solid six to eight hours of sleep every night, and shrink your belly.
2. Stress, stress and more stress:
If you’re like a lot of folks you tend to eat more when you’re stressed. After all, there are few things as soothing as comfort foods when your nerves are feeling frayed. And those carb heavy foods tend to build up your belly.
But that’s not the only reason being stressed can add to your spare tire. Cortisol, the hormone your body produces when you’re stressed, actually changes the way your body burns calories, making you burn fewer of them. When you burn fewer calories, it gets stored as fat, including belly fat.
Ignoring your stress won’t make it go away. So be honest about the amount of stress you’re under, and find ways to alleviate some of it. When you start to truly relax your body will stop producing as much cortisol, and stop storing as much belly fat.
3. Low fat diets:
Low fat diets often backfire and that’s because most of them are built on the idea that all fats are bad, and we must remove them from our diet. But the truth is not all fats are created equal, and including some healthy fats in your diet doesn’t mean you’ll end up fat too.
In fact, healthy fats could be the key to finally breaking through that belly fat.
The kinds of fats you’re eating is what determines whether or not you continue to cart around a few extra pounds. According to one study, women who started eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats lost one third of their belly fat over the course of just one month.
To win the battle of the belly bulge go ahead and cut back on saturated fats—which are fine in moderation—and eat more foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Good sources of these healthy fats include…
- sunflower seeds
- flax seeds
- chia seeds
- olive oil
- fatty fish
Stop thinking low fat and start thinking good fat instead.
4. Diet sodas:
If you’re drinking diet sodas to lose weight, we’ve got some bad news: you’re doing the exact opposite. Research has linked diet sodas to weight gain, including that dreaded belly bulge.
Switch to water, or sparkling water if you prefer a bit of bubbles, and add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or some fresh fruit slices, for a satisfying drink that will actually help you shed that spare tire.
5. Doing the wrong workout:
We should all be making an effort to fit in a couple of hours of moderate-intensity exercise every week. But if you’re trying to lose belly fat you’ll need to boost that time, and your intensity, a bit.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, an HIIT workout—or High-Intensity Interval Training workout—is one of the most effective ways to tackle belly fat, as well as the elevated insulin, triglyceride and stress hormone levels that are contributing to your ballooning belly.
Bu don’t worry, HIIT doesn’t mean you have to take up kickboxing or high knee jumping. Just speed up whatever it is you’re already doing, whether it’s walking, swimming or bike riding. You’ll know you’re going fast enough when it becomes just a little difficult to hold a conversation at the pace you’re going.
Stick to that faster speed for two minutes then slow back down again until your breathing and heartrate return to normal, then speed up another two minutes. Keep this back and forth going for the duration of your walk or swim and that counts as a high-intensity interval training workout.
No matter who you are, getting rid of belly fat is important to your health. Make the right choices, and even the most stubborn belly fat will melt away.