Most of our Beyond Diet members, when they first join the program, have very specific goals and objectives. Some want to tone their arms, others want stronger legs. Some want long, lean muscles, while others are looking to add bulk. While every person I've worked with has had ultra-specific requests, they all usually have a second goal, and it's the same no matter who I speak to. All of our members want to lose belly fat.
Belly fat is incredibly dangerous, and increases your risk of developing:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colorectal cancer
In fact, too much excess belly fat is a significant risk factor for Type II diabetes.
Visceral fat (aka belly fat) is particularly dangerous because it resides so close to your vital organs. Hormones and chemicals released by fat stored in your abdomen affect all your internal organs, but your liver and heart are in particular danger. Excess fat in your belly enters the liver and can cause fatty liver disease, while excess fat in your blood increases your cholesterol and may cause build-up in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack.
It's a great idea to want to cut back on belly fat specifically. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to target fat loss. While bicep curls or squats target and strengthen specific muscle groups, cardio workouts have a whole body effect. And cardio is the only sure-fire workout that will rid your body of excess belly fat. One of the best and currently most popular workouts you can do for belly fat is interval running. Keep it as simple as this: Run at a comfortable jog for 5 minutes. Sprint for 1 minute, briskly walk for 1 minute. Do this anywhere from 4-8 times every other day. You can start to see results in just a few weeks!
The same is true for your diet. Foods that are healthy for your whole body are the foods that are most likely to help you shed excess fat around your mid-section. To have the best shot at dropping unwanted belly fat, make sure you're getting enough of the following foods.
- Vegetables: You should be getting heaping helpings of vegetables every day for any number of reasons. Add to that list the fact that many veggies, in addition to being high fiber, also act as diuretics, flushing out excess water weight that settles around your midsection. This may be psychological more than anything else, but visceral fat isn't visible fat, and you'll probably lose it without noticing weight loss. Since visible results are the best way to avoid discouragement, you can feed your body essential nutrients while also creating a slimming effect you can actually see, which may give you the boost you need to keep going.
- Kale and spinach: While these are both veggies, they deserve a point of their own. Kale and spinach are both packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can put your body into fat burning overdrive.
- Fruits and nuts: The time between meals is probably the most dangerous time for people trying to lose weight. We all seem to prepare for sit-down meals in a way we don't for our snacks. Unfortunately, blood sugar dips between meals make snack time the most likely time to grab chips or candy, a quick fix that will boost your blood sugar levels and get you through the afternoon. Of course, blood sugar spikes lead your body to overproduce insulin, and insulin resistance leads to diabetes. One way to both avoid blood sugar spikes and help your body fight belly fat is to reach for healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts. Fruit is fiber-rich and maintains healthy blood sugar levels, while nuts have protein that your body burns more calories digesting. Just make sure your choose fruit low on the glycemic index and only eat a recommended serving of unsalted nuts, which are also high in fat.
- Beans and Legumes: Beans and legumes are both high in fiber, which stays in your stomach longer and decreases the chance that you'll overeat. Plus, high-fiber foods take longer to digest. Additionally, beans and legumes (in addition to lean meat) is a great source of protein without the risks of increased cholesterol that come with red meat.