Belly Fat Busters: Lifestyle Fixes for Your Waistline

woman measuring her waistlineEven if you exercise regularly, your waist circumference (belly size) can be a health risk. live well with these lifestyle fixes to help get rid of excess fat around your waistline.

As a fitness goal, losing belly fat brings big benefits, and it’s not just about how you look—a smaller midsection can help you stay healthier, because extra fat in the abdominal area is linked to diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

But what can you do, knowing that you can’t “spot reduce” to slim down in just one area of your body? Doing endless amounts of ab exercises will not make you lose belly fat, but fortunately, there are a few strategies that have been shown to target the kind of fat accumulation.

Increase Your Protein Intake

It’s an important macronutrient for fitness goals in general, and there is some evidence that protein is particularly effective against belly fat. Studies have shown people who eat more protein tend to have less belly fat, and may be less at risk of gaining belly fat over the years.

How much protein do you need to benefit from these potential effects? 25–30 percent of your daily calories is a good place to start. You’ll do well to include high-protein foods such as eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat and dairy products in your diet.

If you struggle with getting enough protein in your diet, then a quality protein supplement (like protein powder) is a healthy and convenient way to boost your total intake. XSport carries a variety of plant-based proteins in addition to the traditional dairy-based powders to ensure healthy options for members with special dietary needs.

Decrease Your Refined Carb and Sugar Intake

There have been many controlled trials that have concluded low-carbohydrate diets lead to more more weight loss than low-fat diets. If you’re overweight, lowering your body weight can be part of your belly fat solution, as a certain proportion of the fat lost on a low-carb diet is disease-promoting abdominal fat.

So, what “carbs” should you decrease, and by how much? There are a variety of eating plans out there that help you cut back on carbs without going to extremes. Getting down to 20 percent of your daily calories from carbs takes some work, but is made easier by focusing on including whole grains, starchy vegetables and whole fruit.

Simply avoiding what is known as “refined” carbs (sugar, candy, fries, white bread) can be enough to make a difference, especially if you keep your protein intake high.

Learn to ManAge Stress

Stress can make you gain belly fat—or, fat around your organs known as visceral fat—by triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.

Research has shown that that high cortisol levels can increase appetite and drive abdominal fat storage. And studies on women have shown that those who already have a large waist tend to produce more cortisol in response to stress.

So, stress can increase cortisol production, and that can lead to fat gain around the middle. To help reduce or offset belly fat, start by engaging in more pleasurable activities that relieve stress. Another strategy is to challenge yourself physically at a high intensity level to sort of “burn off” feelings of stress that produce stress hormones. Boxing, anyone?

For exercise, learn to train your mind along with your body. The calming effects of practicing yoga or Pilates can be effective methods for centering yourself.