Contributed by Onyekachi Kalu, Certified fitness instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org +2348050862690
Everyone has some belly fat, including people with flat abs. Some of your fat is right under your skin, while others are deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. It is that deeper fat that may be the bigger problem, even for skinny people.
Fat is very important in the human body. It provides cushioning around your organs, but if you have too much of it, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, dementia, and certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
If you gain too much weight, your body automatically starts to store your fat in unusual places and exposes you to all sorts of conditions and illnesses.
With increasing obesity, you have people whose regular fat-storing areas are so full that the fat is deposited into the organs and around the heart, which is very dangerous.
Determining your belly fat
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button level, and check your girth. Do it while you're standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health's sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you are a woman and less than 40 inches if you are a man.
Having a 'pear shape' (bigger hips and thighs) is considered safer than 'apple shape,' which describes a wider waistline.
The apple versus pear shape is that, if you have more abdominal fat, it is probably an indicator that you have more fat in your body than is required.
How much belly fat you have is partly about your genes, and partly about your lifestyle, especially how active you are.
Belly fat develops with bad lifestyle and inactivity. In one study, skinny people who watched their diets but didn't exercise were more likely to have belly fat than the ones that combine diet with exercise.
So, the key to keep the belly fat away is diet and exercise.
Fight that belly fat
Written by Bukola Adebayo - Nigeria
You've tried everything - fasting, deliberate starvation, water therapy and beans-only diet - but that potbelly does not seem to budge.
You have invested in some weight loss pills and herbs, but that waistline seems to be growing wider each day. Indeed, no matter what diet you follow and what exercise you do, you can't seem to get rid of your paunch.
You are not the only one. The battle of the bulge is one of the biggest dietary challenges of the 21st century, according to experts.
The belly is the part from which most people would want to lose fat; but, sadly, it is often the last area to give way in the race to reduce body weight.
Beating the belly bulge as you grow older almost seems impossible and frustrating. However, Chief Cardiologist with Memphis Heart Centre, United States of America, Dr. James Arthur, says you must not give up for the sake of your health and longevity.
Arthur states that excess belly fat is more dangerous than excess fat around the hips and thighs.
He says, "Belly fat can lead to serious health problems. Studies and research have proven that excess fat in the abdominal area could result in a constellation of killer diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes."
The physician adds that though being overweight is hereditary, poor lifestyle choices is the major reason why many could not fight accumulating fat in their abdominal area.
As impossible as it seems, though, you can shed that bulging belly without breaking the bank. Health and Fitness Instructor, Jo Mattew, in her book, Bust the Belly, gives some stress-free lifestyle changes that can help you achieve your goal of possessing a flat tummy. Here are some:
Get more sleep
Getting enough sleep is very important if one is looking to beat the bulge. Studies have shown that people who don't get the recommended eight hours of sleep eat more than those who do get the recommended eight hours sleep.
Mattew says, "This happens because of the impact of sleep on your hormones, in particular your hunger hormone, ghrelin. The higher your ghrelin levels are, the hungrier you become. Sleep works as a reset for your hormones; so, if you don't get enough sleep, then your hormones will be out of balance."
Relaxation is essential if you want to slim down your mid-section. Most people lead extremely stressful lives, which have a negative impact on hormones, and in turn, their weight.
The fitness expert notes that the hormone, cortisol, which increases with stress levels, could increase accumulation of belly fat.
She states, "Just behind the abdominal wall, you have an organ called the greater omentum. One of its jobs is to soak up cortisol. When you are stressed, you produce more cortisol and the organ soaks the hormone and it keeps getting bigger and your tummy keeps bulging."
Ditch processed foods
Processed foods are full of toxins that are harmful to the body. The liver's job is to detoxify them from your body, but ingesting toxins on a regular basis won't help the liver to do its job effectively.
Mattew adds, "It means that there will be more toxins that the liver cannot work on. When this happens, they need to be stored in the body. Unfortunately, the toxins are stored in your fat cells and, in particular, an organ behind your abdomen called the greater omentum. This is the reason people have a hard pot belly rather than it being soft and flabby.
"If you are losing weight but struggling to lose the hard bulging belly, then you need to clean up your diet and eat organic foods."
Cut out alcohol
Alcohol is a toxin, experts warn. Just as eating toxic foods will lead to your greater omentum enlarging and your pot belly growing, so will drinking alcohol.
Alcohol dehydrates the body, which again slows down fat loss. It contains a massive amount of calories; and while alcohol is in your system, you will struggle to burn fat, as your liver is busy detoxifying alcohol rather than burning fat.
Drink more water
Water is essential in the battle to beat the belly bulge. For a start, 75 per cent of your body is made up of water. That fact alone should make one realise the need to keep drinking more water. If you are not drinking enough water, it will greatly affect your body.
Water is also used to clear toxins from the body and it helps fats to pass through your system before they can be stored. If you are dehydrated or not drinking enough water on a regular basis, toxins will build up in your body, affecting your ability to burn fat. Worse still, the fats will more likely be stored in your body.
According to Mattew, most people who overeat and struggle to control their hunger are, in fact, chronically dehydrated; and no matter how much they try to fight off hunger or how much they eat, the feeling doesn't go away. She adds that with more water intake, however, the hunger will disappear.
You will probably have heard people say that carbohydrates make people fat, and not just fatty foods. This is true, experts say, as carbohydrates do lead to weight gain due to the effect they have on the hormones. However, you still need carbs in your diet; so, don't cut them out completely.
Improve your posture
There are plenty of reasons why improving your posture will help you beat the belly bulge. Improved posture will help speed up metabolism through increased muscle tone, while it also helps the body to burn more calories and fat around the waistline.