A Guide to the Top Exercises and Foods that Burn Belly Fat
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
July 21, 2020
Working toward losing weight and becoming fitter is a healthy decision that has both physical and mental benefits. However, when it comes specifically to belly fat that is clustered around the abdomen, called visceral fat, both the risk and the effort required is greater. As per a study by CADI Research Foundation, Asian Indians have more visceral fat deposits than any other race. In fact, for the same Body Mass Index (BMI), the body fat percentage in Asian Indians is higher by up to 8% compared to Europids. In fact, the problem of belly fat is particularly prevalent in Indian women as per an article in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Though the average BMI in Indian women is the same as Chinese and European women, Indian women had drastically more abdominal fat regardless of age.
Before learning about foods to eat to lose weight in the stomach or workouts to burn belly fat, it is important for you to know why reducing belly fat is so important.
Problems caused by belly fat
Not all fat in your body is the same, and belly fat or visceral fat is one of the most harmful fats. This fat occupies the space around your intestines and stomach and pads abdominals organs. It releases toxins and biochemicals such as cytokines that cause or increase the probability of problems such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hormonal imbalance
- Blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Inflammation that increases risk of cancer in colon and pancreas
Another reason to beware of visceral fat is due to its location near the portal vein that transports blood to the liver from the intestines. Free fatty acids and other substances that are released by belly fat thus reach the liver, causing havoc with blood lipids that influence your metabolism. It is for this reason that visceral fat leads to higher total cholesterol in the body and increase the risk of diabetes.
Thus, it is better to have fatty deposits all over your body than concentrated around your belly. However, this is easier said than done. Belly fat reduction requires disciplined effort that goes beyond just doing the best exercises to lose stomach fat. Diet is also a crucial part of the journey, and while there are special foods that burn belly fat, employing a holistic approach generally delivers longer-lasting results.
Belly fat reduction during the lockdown
You may have noticed that you and/or those around you are gaining weight quite rapidly during the lockdown. While it is too early to study this phenomenon, experts around the world suggest that reduced physical activity due to staying indoors, eating ultra-processed food at home, and high anxiety have caused significant number of people to add on the kilos during this time.
The first step to fixing this problem is acknowledging it and looking for a lifetime solution rather than following a fad diet for losing belly fat. Start by changing your sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits and then look to develop smart strategies that will help you keep belly fat at bay throughout your life.
5 tips to help you reduce belly fat during the lockdown
Switch to a calorie deficit diet
Before jumping into workouts to burn belly fat, it is important that you have the right foundation in place. The calories you consume through the day serve as fuel and will ultimately determine whether you shed fat or not. For starters, identify a calorie counter that is easy to use and enter data regarding your height, weight, age, sex, and activity levels. Based on these, you will get an estimated number of calories for weight loss, weight maintenance or weight gain. Start by noting the number of calories you’d need for weight loss, given your current health profile and draft up a meal plan that fits.
Here, the best approach to consume valuable calories is to switch to a low-carb, high protein diet. This lowers your calorie intact drastically and reduce your hungers levels too. What’s more, cutting carbohydrates from your meals also lowers insulin levels. This helps reduce bloating and unnecessary water weight. On the other hand, consuming protein complements this goal to lose weight. Proteins are one of the best foods to reduce belly fat as they keep your fuller for longer and increase your calorie expenditure. In fact, khichdi is a protein-rich meal popular in Indian households, with a complete nutrient profile that is essential for burning belly fat.
Consume high fibre foods
High-fibre foods are generally denser and keep you full for longer, which makes them ideal foods to reduce belly fat. This helps you deal with unhealthy eating habits, which are generally responsible for weight gain. For instance, adding legumes like split peas and mung beans, nuts and whole grains like barley and bulgur wheat to your diet is a great choice.
Moreover, high fibre foods like avocados are rich in soluble fibre, which improve gut bacteria that reduce belly fat.
Avoid refined sugars as much as possible
Food with high sugar content is responsible for fat storage. Moreover, refined sugars are high in calories and have very little nutritional value to offer. Further, a rise in blood glucose from consuming sugar-rich food triggers a spike in insulin levels to efficiently utilise this glucose. Over time, your body develops insulin resistance and starts to store it as visceral fat or belly fat.
This has further health complications and the best way to counteract it is to cut out refined sugars. These include high-fructose corn syrup, glucose and sucrose that are present in processed foods like cereal and snacks, readymade sauces, and pastries and cakes. In contrast, natural sugars from fruits form a part of balanced diet as they are necessary for the release of opioids and dopamine, both of which play an important role in normal function of the body. For instance, using homemade date syrup is a smart way to sweeten desserts and shakes without relying on white sugar.
Incorporate exercise with weight training into your week
For a slimmer waist, you must exercise to lose belly fat and this typically involves cardio activities, which is called aerobic exercise, paired with weight training, also called strength or resistance training. Including both these types of workout is the key to reducing belly fat as per a study by Johns Hopkins. However, the same research also found that doing moderate exercise like a brisk walk of 30 minutes 6 days a week also helps in preventing belly fat build-up. If your goal is to lose belly fat, simply add more time to your walks rather than increasing the intensity. While there are many fat burning exercises for women and men to help reduce abdominal fat, make sure that you do not overdo; rather, try to create a workout plan that you can be regular with.
Add caffeine to your routine
Caffeine is known to boost concentration and energy levels when consumed. To add to these perks, it is also a potent tool in weight loss as it is known to increase metabolism by up to 11%. What’s more, when taken in moderation, caffeine can also help your endurance, which is key to exercising effectively to lose belly fat.
So, whether you’re looking for foods that burn belly fat or exercises that can help you achieve this goal quicker, this is a good guide to follow. However, for the best results, it is worthwhile to consult professionals, especially when crafting a diet and exercise plan to follow. A good solution is get the help you need via the HealthRx app. With a personalised health manager, you can track your lifestyle goals and daily activity and even get health reports to ensure you’re in the pink of health. To take healthcare to a whole new, fully-digital level, get the app today!