Carrying extra weight around your midsection can increase risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) recommends women to have a waist circumference under 35 inches and for men to have a waist circumference under 40 inches.
There are many ways to lose weight, but it is important to change your habits for the long term with weight loss. Unfortunately, we can’t spot reduce fat loss meaning you can’t target where the fat comes off during weight loss. However, there are some general guidelines that can help when trying to lose weight in your stomach.
Any weight loss program that encourages weight loss without exercise should be a red flag. Weight loss should always accompany exercise to promote fat loss and keeping muscle mass. Moderate exercise in particular relies more on fat as a fuel instead of carbohydrates. Moderate aerobic exercise means you are working hard, but you could increase intensity if you had to. You could also stay at that intensity for a while.
General guidelines for exercise are 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. However, for weight loss this may need to be increased. While moderate exercise is important to stimulate fat burn, higher intensity exercise is also beneficial for fat loss and boosting metabolism.
Do a variety of exercise and combination of high and moderate intensity for the greatest boost for losing fat. Whatever type of exercise, whether running, biking, swimming, dancing, etc. can be beneficial for weight loss. Choose something that you like to do and will stick with long term.
A common misconception is that doing stomach crunches or other abdominal strengthening exercises will promote fat loss in the mid-section. While these exercises are important for improving core strength, they will not melt the fat away. A combination of core strengthening exercises and aerobic exercise can help burn the fat around the midsection, and over time can show the developed muscles underneath.
Low sugar diet
In general, a higher sugar diet promotes a rise in blood sugar which will increase blood insulin levels. Insulin is needed to transport the sugar (energy from digested carbohydrates) into body cells for energy or storage.
Another function of insulin is to promote fat storage. Therefore, if blood sugar and insulin levels are constantly high, that can promote fat gain. If you are trying to lose weight, especially around your stomach, limiting intake of added sugar can definitely help.
No magic diet
People can lose weight on various diets whether they are low fat, low carbohydrate, vegetarian, paleo, Mediterranean, etc. Low carbohydrate diets are popular especially for fast weight loss, but over a longer period of time most research studies show diets varying in macronutrient composition can have equal effect on weight loss long term.
As mentioned with lowering sugar intake, a lower carbohydrate diet may be beneficial because of limiting sugar intake which lowers an insulin response.
Stay away from fad diets for weight loss; losing weight and gaining it right back are not the most helpful for long term weight loss success. Stick with choosing whole, unprocessed foods from the food groups. Eating a high amount of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains can give your body adequate, balanced nutrition.
Diet and exercise are important parts of weight loss, but an often over looked aspect of weight loss is sleep. When someone is sleep deprived it can actually interfere with the body’s metabolism, cravings and appetite.
A 2012 study found that weight loss participants who had adequate sleep were more successful with a controlled weight loss program. How much sleep you need per night can vary, but a general recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Stress levels can affect your hormone levels, like cortisol and adrenaline to name a few, which can affect your body many ways including your metabolism. High stress levels can elevate cortisol and adrenaline which negatively affect weight loss and may promote fat storage around the mid-section.
Practicing relaxation techniques and healthy coping mechanisms for stress are important during weight loss. If you are eating really healthy and exercising, but your hormones are off, this could interfere with weight loss success.
Many things can impact weight loss, especially from the stomach. There is no magic secret exercise or diet that can automatically take inches off your waistline. However, cutting out sugar can help limit fat storage in the body and promote fat loss.
Getting a combination of moderate, vigorous and strength training exercise can build up core strength, encourage your body to use fat more as a fuel source and increase your metabolism. Other important factors for losing weight around your stomach are getting adequate sleep, lowering stress in your life and finding healthy ways to relax.
References used in this article