Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the most dangerous form of fat in the human body. It naturally occurs when a person expends fewer calories than he/she consumes. Belly fat is directly linked to coronary heart disease among other life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Belly fat is common among adults aged between 50 – 79 years. Research shows that men are more susceptible to belly fat.

General Causes of Visceral Fat

Poor diet (excess meat consumption)
Unhealthy lifestyle
Physiological causes (stress)

Practical Solutions

For you to get rid of belly fat, you need to consider the following:

Healthy Diet

  • Sugars: The liver, which is essential for sugar absorption, is sometimes unable to metabolise all sugars present in your body. Excess fructose could lead to liver failure, which in turn causes insulin resistance. It becomes impossible to regulate ghrelin (the hunger hormone) causing you to eat more. It is advisable to include fermented foods which bring in beneficial bacteria to suppress the sugar burden on the liver.

  • Proteins: These require a much longer time to digest and therefore they provide the feeling of satisfaction for longer. High protein content stimulates secretions of hormone leptin (the hunger suppressor) which in turn reduces cravings for foods with high-calorie content.
    Proteins require vast amounts of energy for their breakdown, which is why they are said to have a high thermic effect. To achieve this, the body needs to burn more calories for energy. Proteins are vital for muscle growth and repair. They contain leucine, a type of amino acid. This acid regulates and prevents excessive muscle loss when breaking down fat. Rich sources of proteins include fish, meat, legumes, and eggs.

  • Fats: These include mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. They are essential to the body for optimal functionality. They are also useful in balancing blood sugar levels and absorption of nutrients. Seventy percent of your diet should comprise of fats. The best sources of healthy fats include unheated raw milk, raw nuts, olive oil, and avocado.

  • Water: Water contains oxygen which helps to oxidize lipids. Drinking a lot of water delivers oxygen to the fat burning cells thus burning off excess fats. The different types of foods we take alongside hydration trigger different hormones. Failure to drink enough water can cause hormonal imbalance leading to fat buildup.

Stress Management

Stress is defined as the mental strain from adverse conditions. These include divorce, overscheduled calendars, losing a job, losing a loved one, relationships gone bad, etc. High stress levels cause the body to release high amounts of adrenaline. This, in turn, causes the release of fatty acids from your fat cells. The fatty acids are then broken-down releasing energy (fight response).

While the energy assists you to repel the physical stress, the fatty acids, on the other hand, continue to be released at a higher rate than that which they get burned. Consequently, your body stimulates the release of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands.

Cortisol helps the body to store excess fatty acids in your body tissues which include the abdominal tissues. More stress causes accumulation of this fat in the stomach leading to belly fat.

To avoid stress, apply stress management techniques such as the Reaction Formation Technique. They include swapping stressful thoughts with the opposite. Engage in a fitness program, and creating a peaceful state of mind through imagery. An excellent time management program can also help you to overcome stress.

Enough rest

Lack of adequate sleep causes an imbalance among hunger hormones, for example, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin increases one's appetite while leptin reduces appetite. Inadequate sleep triggers secretion of ghrelin. This decreases your metabolism rate thus more fats get stored in your body. If you want to lose belly fat, get adequate sleep. Good sleep, on the contrary, facilitates the secretion of leptin which suppresses appetite and raises metabolism which burns off fat.

Aerobic exercise and Resistance Training

Last but not least, aerobic exercises upsurge insulin resistance which increases the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes. Resistance training, on the other hand, promotes lean mass and improves strength.

Image credit: Pexels

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