Belly fat is often considered more of a cosmetic issue than a health issue. But few outside of the medical or fitness communities may know that belly fat is not only unsightly but unhealthy as well. Excessive belly fat can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer.
So while many people may want to reduce their belly fat for cosmetic purposes, they can also use improving their overall health as a motivating factor when attempting to trim their waistlines. The following are a few healthy ways to reduce belly fat.
* Adopt a healthy diet. Belly fat is often the first victim when men and women adopt a healthy diet and begin to lose weight. Researcher Kristen Hairston, MD, an assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine, found that people who ate 10 grams of soluble fiber per day but made no other changes to their diet built up less fat over time than others. In addition to fiber, you should include fruits, vegetables and lean proteins in your diet. These foods will help you feel more full, which will curb your hunger and, as a result, reduce your caloric intake.
* Get some rest. A good night’s sleep, which is at least seven hours of sleep each night, has been shown to reduce fat over an extended period of time. Though the exact relationship between sleep and belly fat is unknown, a lack of sleep can force men and women to look to sugary beverages or snacks to provide a boost during the day. Such drinks and snacks can cause weight gain, especially among those people who routinely fail to get a good night’s sleep.
* Get off the couch and exercise. Exercise is another effective way to reduce belly fat. Numerous studies have shown the positive effect that daily, vigorous exercise can have on overall health. For example, a study conducted by researchers at Duke University found that 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, which includes jogging or working out on a cardiovascular machine, such as an elliptical or a treadmill, four times per week can reduce fat and slow down the buildup of fat over time. Those who want to reduce belly fat will likely need to emphasize vigorous exercise. While those hoping to prevent the buildup of belly fat should know that studies have shown, when coupled with a healthy diet, moderate activity, which includes anything that raises your heart rate, three times per week may be enough to slow down fat buildup.