Health

The secret to losing tummy fat: Target belly fitness

Lose the jelly belly and achieve your desired beach body with these clever tips. With a little bit of exercise and the right diet, you’ll have a flatter stomach in no time.

That lower belly paunch is actually composed of two types of fat. One kind, subcutaneous, is right under the skin and it’s soft and pinchable. The other kind, inside the abdominal cavity, is visceral fat, it’s a hard fat which helps protect organs. Visceral fat produces various chemicals and excess amounts of it are associated with heart disease and diabetes.

No matter what you weigh, experts agree that a waist circumference over 88 cm for a woman and over 94cm for a man indicates that you may have unsafe levels of visceral fat that may place you at increased risk of obesity-related conditions.

Breathe out before you measure (do not suck in your breath). Wrap the tape measure around your middle. Men should measure around the belly button, and women measure four centimetres above your belly button.

Read also: Belly fat and insulin what is the risk

It may sound odd, but celebrity trainer James Duigan, the man who shaped Elle Macpherson, swears by eating good fats every day to burn body fat.

The fats found in nuts, avocados, oily fish and olive oils encourage your body to burn fat, giving you a nice, flat tummy. Avoid bad fats, such as hydrogenated oil, hydrogenated vegetable fat and partially hydrogenated vegetable fat.

By feeding yourself smaller meals more often during the day, you keep the metabolism ticking over throughout the day. This constantly keeps the fat fires burning and is a simple adjustment to make to your daily routine.

The microflora colony in the digestive tract should be made up of 85 percent friendly bacteria to 15 percent harmful bacteria. But imbalanced gut flora can lead to gas and bloating. Taking a probiotic supplement and eating foods that include probiotics will help relieve the bloating and rebalance your tummy health.

Read also: Keep your tummy happy and healthy

There is no diet that targets tummy fat alone. But when you lose weight, belly fat usually goes first. Here is a list of foods that are best to eat for a flat tummy:

• Water and cranberry juice will flush out toxins;

• Vegetables;

• Protein. Opt for organic chicken and meat because they have less hormones and bacteria;

• Low-GI foods. Look for the label on foods in supermarkets:

• Fibre. It regulates your bowel movements so include wholegrain bread, cereal and nuts in your diet.

• Too much fruit, wheat and dairy can cause bloating. Reduce your servings to two a day.

• Avoid Alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks.

• Salt makes you retain water. Beware of processed (takeaway, packet) foods which are high in sodium and sugar.

• Sugar, which promotes weight gain.

• Go easy on chillies and spices. While they can kick-start your metabolism, they can also upset your stomach, so just monitor your body’s reaction to spicy foods.

Anything that raises your heart rate above its resting level will help burn fat. A combination of cardio, such as cycling or walking, and weight training is the best if you want results. Start with three cardio work-outs a week for 40 minutes each. But cardio exercise has been shown to trim fat, and also slow the build-up of visceral fat over the years. Whether you choose to hit the treadmill, swim, walk, do an aerobics class or jump on a bike is up to you.

Adding strength to your training can supercharge your fitness, boost your metabolism and burn off that extra fat. If you increase your lean body mass, you increase your metabolic rate, which in return makes it easier to lose fat.

The bad news is that there aren’t any moves that specifically target belly fat. While you may be able to lose weight overall, it’s very difficult to spot reduce certain parts of our body. The good news is that there are exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles. Try the following 3 exercises to achieve that chiselled six pack.

Sit-ups are great, but your muscles need to be challenged and abdominal exercises don’t have to be done just on the floor. The best abdominal exercises are those that stabilise and strengthen the entire core area, not just the six-pack muscles. Kayaking offers great resistance training. If you can’t get access to a kayak, try the rowing machine at your local gym.

Try the yoga position ‘the plank’. Lie on your stomach on the floor, raise your body off the floor and onto your hands and toes, making sure you keep your body in a straight line and your stomach in. Breathe normally and hold for as long as you can. Try aim for a minute.

The beauty of the ‘zip and hollow’ Pilates move is that you can do this anywhere without anyone noticing. Next time you are in the supermarket queue, or standing on the bus, give this move a go. As you exhale, draw up your pelvic floor muscles and gently hollow your lower abdominals back towards your spine.

Managing your stress matters. When you’re under stress, the body makes cortisol, a hormone that encourages fat storage in the belly. Find an outlet for your worries like boxing, reading, swimming or painting.

A lack of sleep plays a role in the build-up of fat. According to nutritionist and exercise physiologist Caitlin Reid, a lack of sleep increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as insulin secretion after a meal. Both these hormones promote weight gain. During sleep, our bodies produce hormones that help to control appetite, energy metabolism and glucose processing.

Read also: How sleeplessness affects your health

Celebrity trainer James Duigan says many of his model clients take an Epsom salts bath just before a bikini photo shoot. Epsom salts are an ancient remedy for drawing out toxins. And according to James, soaking in one or two of these baths a week will speed up your weight loss.

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