Nobody likes belly fat and bloating, but did you know medical professionals have actually proven that fat in the belly is more dangerous to one’s health than fat accumulation in other areas of the body?
This is due to the fact that it can put pressure on the heart and increase your risk of cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Another interesting quality of belly fat is related to the type of fat that is actually stored in the belly. This is visceral fat, unlike the subcutaneous fat that is stored throughout the rest of the body.
It is called visceral fat because it accumulates around and between your viscera, which are the internal organs in the area of your belly, such as your intestines and stomach.
According to WebMD, this type of fat is also famous for creating toxins that affect your body’s performance levels.
So not only will you look and feel worse but you will perform at less than optimal levels during exercise, or any other type of physical activity as well.
Here’s the thing:
Among these toxins are chemicals called cytokines that increase your risk of heart disease, which in turn makes you less sensitive to insulin, and may cause diabetes.
Cytokines also cause inflammation, which studies show can contribute to cancers of the pancreas, colon, and esophagus.
Now you can see how a simple chubby belly can have quite a detrimental chain reaction of ill effects on your health.
Besides, having excessive belly fat just makes you feel lethargic, and your clothing feels tight and uncomfortable at the waistline.
Nobody likes that.
One reason I love wearing low-cut clothing is because I can’t stand feeling pressure in that area, even if I am not retaining water, and even if I do not have a belly. But that is a personal fashion and comfort level choice.
What is too much belly fat, and how do I know?
• Men – Waistline measurement of 40 inches or more.
• Women – Waistline measurement of 35 inches or more.
Shapefit.com has a decent ideal waist-to-height ratio calculator.
All About Losing that Annoying Belly Fat
In order to understand the science behind losing belly fat, as well as the anerobic method of exercise and having a flat belly, I reached out to my personal friend and guide Professor Andy Piñeiro, a licensed professional fitness trainer from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Piñeiro recommends low calorie, high nutrient foods that you can stuff yourself silly with, but without consuming a lot of calories, all the while providing you with lots of nutrients.
In addition, he recommends mixing some metabolism-boosting super foods into your diet along with a daily multivitamin supplement, rather than strictly relying on supplements alone as a way of getting your nutrients and vitamins.
According to Piñeiro, vitamins and nutrients are always best when they come directly from your food.
Foods for a Flat Belly
Piñeiro went on to list some of the best foods for reducing the midsection:
- Asparagus – Asparagus is a high fiber vegetable with diuretic qualities. The spears are low in calories, and they help to grow good bacteria in the digestive system. They’re also yummy when prepared in various ways.
- Broccoli – Fat free, nutrient dense, low calorie, and delicious. I can’t think of anything that is not good with broccoli, or even eating it on its own (raw or cooked) is delicious.
- Cucumbers – Cucumbers fill you up because of their high water content – up to 98%. They are also packed full of micronutrients and can be prepared in numerous ways.
- Ginger – Ginger has cleansing qualities that clean and calm your digestive system, helping to ease any bloat you may be experiencing. Try ginger tea with honey- absolutely delicious!
- Green Apples – Apples are great for flat bellies and they are healthy too, with less sugar than other varieties.
- Watercress – Watercress is chock-full of calcium, and has been used historically as an appetite suppressant,which is now being rediscovered (1).
Multiply Your Metabolism With These 8 Common Ingredients
Piñeiro also presented a list of common food ingredients and drinks that have the ability to supercharge your metabolism:
- Black coffee – Coffee has a host of healthy compounds, and contains biologically active substances that speed up your metabolism, such as chlorogenic acid, which slows the absorption of carbohydrates. The caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. Your cup of joe also contains theophylline and theobromine, two substances that have a stimulating effect similar to the caffeine.
- Chicken – Chicken is a lean meat that’s full of iron, which helps to prevent iron deficiency (most people need to eat about 3-4 iron-rich foods a day to stay healthy). This is important to your waistline because iron deficiency can cause your metabolism to slow down.
- Eggs – Eggs prepared any way you wish and eaten for breakfast will not only provide nutrition, but metabolism-boosting benefits as well. Eggs contain high amounts of protein that will make you feel satisfied and help you burn calories all day long.
- Fish – Fish such as salmon and tuna contain a plethora of healthy oils with properties that lower levels of a hormone called leptin, which has been linked to slowing metabolism down. These oils have the added benefit of helping your body to process foods more effectively, combating bloat.
- Grapefruit – Grapefruit is a good source of vitamin C as well as folate and thiamine. Thiamine is responsible for helping the body to metabolize glucose.
- Lettuce – Lettuce and various other types of leafy greens contain healthy doses of magnesium and iron, and when these enter your spleen, they help to boost your immunity. They also help your liver to flush out fatty cells and boost your metabolism. The darker the leaves, the more nutrient rich the lettuce is.
- Spinach – High in fiber, and high fiber foods can help you burn up to 30% more fat than foods without it. Try adding a high fiber food to your diet 3 times a day. Spinach also contains metabolism-boosting iron and calcium, which is good for our muscles. The better your muscles are working, the more fat you are going to burn.
- Water (more than two liters or 8 ½ cups per day) – Being well hydrated is a very important part of what keeps your metabolism going. It is a good idea to drink water first thing in the morning, to hydrate your body after sleeping all night, and continue to keep it hydrated throughout the day. A dehydrated body is sluggish, and thus has a slow metabolism.
A Healthy Mind and a Healthy Body
Piñeiro says a positive attitude is imperative to keep up with an exercise routine, and eating properly.
He always says, “Things are going to get worse before they get better.” So keep that positive attitude, be patient, and the results will come!
Piñeiro recommends sticking with healthy food choices, organic if possible, and to train at least three times per week.
The system of exercising that Piñeiro recommends below puts your body in an anaerobic state, which causes you to burn more fat than with standard aerobic exercise alone. Because it keeps you out of breath for a longer time, it allows you to get more results in less time.
Did You Know?
Aerobic means “with oxygen,” and anaerobic means “without oxygen.”
In the world of single-celled organisms, some require oxygen (as in the case of aerobic bacteria) to sustain their biological systems while others don’t (as in the case of anaerobic bacteria).
The cells of your body work under the aerobic principle. However, fat cells have the ability to allow the other cells in your body to mimic an anaerobic process.
Oxygen is transferred from the fat cells, which requires the destruction of fat molecules. This releases oxygen and provides a burst of energy, released from the bond that held the oxygen atoms in place on the fat molecule.
This oxygen and energy is made available to your cells in the muscle fibers. This is called anaerobic respiration. The oxygen provided by the air entering your bloodstream from your lungs is supplemented by the available oxygen being released from your fat cells.
Have you ever gone for a jog and gotten a second wind? This is the anaerobic respiration process at work.
Piñeiro’s system produces less of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to develop fat in the belly.
Another added bonus is that anaerobic exercise helps to naturally produce the human growth hormone, which burns fat and builds muscle tissue.
Piñeiro prefers this type of exercise if you need to burn fat. And if you have a belly, then you certainly need to burn some fat! These types off anaerobic workouts are also referred to as Intermittent Circuit Exercises, High-Intensity Interval Training, or the Intermittent Circuit Resistance Neuromuscular System of exercising.
Think Safety Before You Start
See a medical doctor to make sure you are in good health before starting an exercise routine.
Don’t forget the blood analysis as well! You should be aware of any medical conditions you may have before embarking upon any sort of new diet or exercise program.
Anaerobic exercises are ideal for burning calories and building muscle. They are intense in nature, and should not be done on consecutive days.
Here are some basic guidelines, but the idea is that you can vary the work and rest ratios depending on your cardiovascular training level. Two common intervals for high-intensity interval training are a 1:2 work/rest ratio and a 1:1 work/rest ratio. As your cardiovascular levels improve you can work out longer, resting less between blocks.
In addition, anaerobic workouts put your body in a period of post-exercise consumption of energy, which continues to burn calories at an accelerated pace for hours after you leave the gym and return to your regular routine.
Training consists of 3 blocks (or series) of exercises with short rests in between, to keep you breathing hard continually and thus burning up more fat. What exactly is a block or series? This is simply a unit used to divide your whole routine into 3 parts.
For beginners, a good block should last about 3 minutes. Do your first exercise, rest for 15 seconds, do your second, rest 15 seconds until you have finished your first block, and then rest for 3 minutes. Then do the same for the second and third blocks.
For those at the intermediate level, do the same as for beginners but with longer blocks. As always, make the length of your blocks match your fitness level. Do the same thing but rest for half the time it took you to do the block of exercises, rather than resting for the same amount of time as you did as a beginner.
For those at the advanced level, train for 3 blocks, which will again be longer than the beginner and intermediate blocks, and do the same thing, except rest for only ¼ of the time it took you to do the block of exercises.
8-9 hours of sleep per night is essential to have the energy to do the workouts and recover after.
I think we can all see the wide range of benefits we might receive if we work towards having or maintaining a nice flat belly – mentally, physically and health-wise.
Keeping slim and trim is just not for appearances; it’s critical to your well-being.
1. Paul Kelbie. Medieval Appetite Suppressant Could Be New Slimming Aid. Independent UK. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/medieval-appetite-suppressant-could-be-new-slimming-aid-504908.html
2. BBC. Aerobic and Anaerobic Respiration. http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zm6rd2p/revision/1
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About Lori Jo Hendrix
Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.