One of the first things my new clients say is that they want a flatter tummy. Belly fat can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. It also affects a woman’s confidence and how she feels in her clothes.
Even more important is the problem that this type of fat around the mid-section is a risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The good news—you can do something about it.
Here are 7 tips to help you lose belly fat so you can wear those form fitting clothes and feel beautiful in them:
1. Eat a high protein diet: Protein should be a part of every meal. It keeps you full, decreases your appetite and helps build strong muscles. Studies have shown that eating quality protein (i.e., beef, salmon, eggs, turkey, pork, fish & chicken) throughout the day decreases abdominal fat—the type of fat that can be a precursor for obesity and disease. Not sure how much protein to eat? Strive for 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.
2. Cut out sugar: For many of us, this is easier said than done. Sugar tastes good and many compare it to a drug that you can become addicted to over time. Quitting cold turkey usually doesn’t work. Instead, try to find healthier ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. Swap out candy for some fruit, and if you crave chocolate, eat a small piece of dark chocolate (at least 70% dark or higher), which is also heart healthy. And don’t forget those sugary drinks that are often overlooked. Ditch the sodas and juices, which are loaded with sugar. Flavored unsweetened seltzer or water is just as good and ten times better for your waistline.
3. Get active: It sounds obvious, but it’s always worth repeating. Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training will always work in reducing belly fat. You’ll burn calories whether you’re running, walking, biking, rowing or taking your favorite dance class. Studies show that aerobic exercise leads to weight loss, which ultimately results in reduced abdominal fat. What women sometimes forget though is the strength training part of the equation. Resistance training at least three times a week will not only get you stronger, but the muscles you build will take the place of fat. So don’t forget to lift those weights!
4. Cut refined carbs and processed foods: Carbs often get a bad rap and there is some good reason for that. The problem occurs when you don’t eat the right carbs. A refined carb has basically been stripped of its nutritional value including fiber, vitamins and minerals. The lack of these important nutrients has been linked to obesity. Opt for complex carbs such as yams, sweet potatoes, whole oats, quinoa, and wild brown or black rice.
The same goes for processed foods. Just seeing the word “processed” on a food should be enough for you to stay away from it as it’s far from being natural and healthy. These foods are usually loaded with sugars and other ingredients that do nothing to keep your body healthy or your belly flat.
5. Drink apple cider vinegar (ACV) every day: A tall tale or health hack? Whatever you may think about drinking apple cider vinegar, the truth lies in the science. One study showed that daily intake of apple cider vinegar significantly reduced belly fat. The acetic acid in the vinegar is what does the trick. And not only that, ACV has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels. Just be sure to dilute it with some water so it’s easier to drink.
6. Drink plenty of water: Water is essential for all living things and that includes you. Water regulates your internal body temperature through sweating, it metabolizes and transports carbs and proteins, it helps flush waste out of your system and it keeps your joints lubricated. The list goes on and on. When it comes to belly fat, water is the perfect weapon to keep your body healthy while flushing out whatever may be causing belly bloat.
7. Get more sleep: They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. A good night’s sleep, which should be at least seven hours a night, is important for a variety of reasons. Not only is it beneficial for mental clarity, but it also reduces cortisol (the stress hormone). Lack of quality sleep has also been shown to increase the levels of ghrelin—the hormone that regulates your appetite. That means you’re more likely to eat more, which can lead to belly fat.
Some of these tips may be much easier than others and that’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day so no one expects you to change your habits over night. Pick the one that you know is the biggest contributor to your belly fat and work on changing that behavior. If you can break the most challenging habit, the rest should be easy!