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BELLY FAT (There I Said It)!We have spent a bunch of time discussing commitment and motivation. You have started the New Year and are feeling a better. That is all good and well, but talk is cheap. Now it’s time to get down to some nitty gritty and there is nothing nittier or grittier then that “belly fat”!
What is it and how do you get rid of it? I get this question over and over again and it usually involves the person asking the question lifting their and shirt and grabbing “it” to show me exactly what they mean. Like I don’t already know? I will try and resolve this mystery stuff and maybe you don’t have to show me your “stuff” any more.
Belly fat (BF) has not always been your problem but somewhere between 30 and now your mid section which use to be smaller than your upper and lower section is not anymore. What’s up with that?
Gaining fat in your abdomen is particularly unhealthy when compared with other locations in your body. You may think BF is limited to the stuff our front that you can grab with your hand – but it’s the fat you can’t see that’s really a cause for concern. Visceral fat lies deeper inside the abdomen, surrounding the abdominal organs. Gaining this type of fat has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems. Subcutaneous fat, located between the skin and the abdominal wall, is more visible but also less likely to be a health risk. Another interesting fact that I didn’t know is: researchers have found is that abdominal fat cells aren’t just dormant energy waiting to be burned up. The cells are active, producing hormones and other substances that affect your health. For example, some fat-cell-produced hormones can promote insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes; others can produce estrogen after menopause, which may increase your breast cancer risk.
The slowing down of your metabolism and the decrease in physical activity contributes to overall weight gain as you age, but those factors do not contribute to visceral fat accumulation directly. You might be able to blame some of this on a hereditary influence. Hormonal changes after menopause may change the way body stores fat.
What’s the best way to lose belly fat?
Sit down this is really going to surprise you. The best way to lose abdominal fat is to eat right and exercise regularly. And there’s a growing body of research to show that the fastest way to burn off the fat from your belly is with a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise.
Research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition compared the effectiveness of two exercise and diet programs. Subjects involved were divided into two groups.
• Group one followed a diet based on the traditional food guide pyramid (50-55% carbohydrate; 15-20% protein; less than 30% fat). They also did (“fat burning zone”) cardiovascular exercise 4-6 days a week. Each workout lasted 30-60 minutes.
• Group two followed a diet that was higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate and fat. Their exercise program consisted of alternating days of resistance and cardiovascular interval training six days per week.
Body composition was assessed by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) before and after the 12-week training program. DEXA is an extremely accurate way to measure changes in body fat. It’s far more reliable than the skin fold calipers or body fat scales often used in health clubs.
And the results were?
Subjects in group two (remember, these were the people who lifted weights as well as the more intense cardio, and ate more protein) lost more fat overall (-20.6%) than group one (-10.1%). They also gained 2 pounds of muscle (0.9 kilograms) while the cardio-only group, not surprisingly, lost muscle.
More interesting still, abdominal fat dropped by 26% in group two, but by just 13.5% in group one. In other words, subjects in group two lost almost twice as much belly fat as those in group one.
So what does this tell you? Firstly you will need to exercise! Only 30 to 40 minutes of cardio in that so called “fat burning zone” two or three times a week isn’t going to cut it. A full body training program that includes both cardiovascular and resistance exercise will deliver the results you are looking for.
At the risk of being redundant …again!
You’ll also need to eat the right foods and in reasonable portions. I know it’s a cliché, but a flat stomach starts in the kitchen. Finally, you’ll need to be consistent. To lose belly fat, eating right and exercising regularly needs to become a habit, not just something you do when you “have the time.” If your existing schedule makes it difficult to find the time for exercise- change it! Get out of bed earlier. Turn off the TV. Stop wasting time on Facebook.