One of the most common weight loss goals is losing abdominal fat, or belly fat. Medical News Today states that being overweight in general is one of the leading causes of major diseases. Excess belly fat can escalate the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, asthma, breast cancer, colon cancer, and dementia. “There are many reasons why people gain belly fat, for instance, poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress,” the site states.
Everyday stress can also be a factor in weight gain. Research shows that high levels of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) over a long period of time are “strongly related” to abdominal obesity.
Experts say that belly fat can also be independent of general body fat, therefore, someone who is not overweight could still have a lot of excess fat around his or her waist. However, you can adopt lifestyle changes that keep your weight in check.
According to Healthline, some studies have linked a high intake of trans fat to increased belly fat gain. Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight, limiting your intake of trans fat is a good idea.
Dieudonne Bukaba, a nutritionist in Kigali, suggests avoiding foods with added sugars (such as candy, cakes, cookies, pastries, and dairy desserts, such as ice cream and yoghurt, sugar-sweetened drinks, like soft drinks, energy drinks, and juices) as they are bad for your health. Eating a lot of these types of food can cause weight gain.
He says that protein intake boosts your metabolism which helps you burn more calories. This leads to a reduction of belly fat.
“Proteins have an essential micronutrient which helps in weight loss. They also reduce your appetite and make you consume fewer calories throughout the day. Some high-protein foods which you can add to your diet to lose belly fat may include, eggs, oats, avocado, pumpkin seeds, milk, almonds, guava, legumes, broccoli, black beans and fatty fishes,” he says.
Dr Jean Damascene Gasherebuka, a physiotherapist at King Faisal Hospital, says that extra belly fat can have a harmful impact on your health. It could lead to some serious diseases like high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and several heart diseases.
The physiotherapist, therefore, says that it is important to cut belly fat by limiting the calories you consume, or only take in the amount of calories you can burn each day.
He urges walking as it is a very simple cardio exercise that helps you lose belly fat and stay fit. “Walking, along with a balanced diet, can make a difference. Running can also be effective yet no equipment is necessary while doing the two exercises. The two not only shed off stomach fat, but fat on other parts of the body,” Gasherebuka says.
Gasherebuka also notes that cycling is also effective in losing weight in the thighs and waist. Aerobics, he says, are also active, simple, fun, and great for burning the maximum amount of calories.
He also points out that if done well and regularly, vertical leg exercises can cut the stomach belly. In order to do them, he says begin by slowly bending your upper body, elating your shoulder edges off of the floor. Breathe out on the upward motion. Keep your legs straight and pointed upward and don’t let them influence or list to one side. Continue curling your body upward using your core muscles.
Additionally, Gasherebuka says that doing some abdominal exercises can help. They can help tone and compress the stomach. These exercises are great for both men and women of any age and can even be tried at home, they include, 60-second planks, bicycle crunches, and abdominal crunches.
He, however, says that people with lower back pain should consult medical experts before partaking in any exercise.