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Diet & Nutrition, Exercise, Preventive Health, Weight Loss

How To Lose That Cursed Belly Fat

Women used to complain about their hips and thighs. Now, it seems, it’s all about belly fat. I suppose this could be my imagination since I have, in recent years, joined the post-baby ranks…and now share this particular preoccupation.

Or maybe it’s the attention paid to apple vs pear-shaped physiques. Which is an important distinction, actually. An apple silhouette (with fat accumulated around the belly) is more dangerous than a pear shape. Years of research have shown an association between belly fat and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Of course there’s a recent study that threatens to debunk years of accepted wisdom re fat distribution in the abdomen vs hips/thighs. But this is just one study, and the jury is still out.

Regardless–whether you want to lose that spare tire for aesthetics or for health–it’s a good goal.

So, what to do?

1. Watch out for trans fat. Saturated fat, in general, is not your friend if you want a nice lean tummy, but trans fats are particularly evil. A study at Wake Forest University showed that trans fat increased the amount of fat stored around the belly…and even worse: it redistributes fat from other parts of your body to the abdomen. Now that is just not nice.

2. Drink green tea. A recent study showed that consumption of green tea enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss. Okay, seriously. Is there anything green tea doesn’t help with?

3. Go easy on the alcohol. Alcohol seems to be a particularly bad thing for belly fat. One theory: when you drink, your liver is too busy burning off the alcohol to metabolize fat properly. But worse, is this: alcohol can affect the hormones that regulate your satiety center. In other words, it can make you feel hungrier. And you know what that leads to, don’t you?

4. Manage your stress. Chronic, unrelenting stress does a lot of bad things to our bodies and minds. Not the least of which is produce a steady stream of cortisol. And, unfortunately, cortisol stimulates our bodies to accumulate fat around our abdomens. Great. As if being stressed isn’t bad enough. Now you’re stressed…and chubby. Check here for tips on stress management. And here. And, um, here.

5. Gobble blueberries. Blueberries have been shown in lab studies to diminish abdominal fat. Don’t get too excited, yet, though–the study was only done on rats. Still, it may prove applicable to the rest of us. Besides, blueberries have other benefits too.

6. Fiber, fiber, fiber. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a diet rich in whole grains helped rid obese patients of extra belly fat. So that’s a good thing. But there’s another benefit to fiber, when it comes to achieving a nice flat belly. And I’m not going to be cute about this one. If you’re constipated, it’s hard to have a truly flat abdomen. No, this isn’t belly fat, per se, but you’ll still have that bloated roundness that’s not exactly pretty (or comfortable!). To get a trimmer tummy you need a combo of: less body fat, no constipation/bloating, and toned muscles…which brings me to…

7. Exercise. You knew I was going to get to this one, right? Yes, exercise will definitely help you get a flat tummy. Best approach: get a combo of cardio (to burn fat) and core strengthening to tone those muscles. My current fave? Yoga plank pose.

8. What about diet soda? It seems logical to cut calories by drinking diet soda. But the evidence is conflicting. Some recent studies have shown that diet soda can actually increase weight gain. Read this if you’re curious why this might be.

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About Kim Foster

Dr. Kim Foster is a writer, family doctor, and mom.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “How To Lose That Cursed Belly Fat

  1. My favourite line: “Now you’re stressed . . . and chubby”

    I’m typing this while in plank pose.

    Posted by ceri | October 10, 2011, 9:03 am
  2. Dr Kim,

    I’m a huge fan of green tea, although its benefits as they pertain to weight loss tend to be grossly exaggerated by the retailers of tea-based diet products. A thorough discussion on its merits has to put the results of the various positive clinical studies into context, something I do here…

    http://articles.ultimatefatburner.com/how-much-weight-can-I-lose-with-green-tea.html

    On another note, there are concerns with consuming too much of the concentrated green tea extracts – something many people investigate as an alternative to drinking expensive, quality, loose green tea…

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mnfr.201000644/full

    Too much of a good thing is never a good thing!

    Posted by Paul | October 11, 2011, 2:24 pm
    • True, that!

      I’m always wary of things that are touted as a magic bullet. No one thing is going to fix all your ills–it takes a combo approach.

      Hope I didn’t come off as excessively green-tea-fanatic. Just making light of all the recent press & PR that green tea gets these days! 😉

      Posted by Dr Kim Foster | October 11, 2011, 2:56 pm

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Dr. Kim Foster, MD. (photo credit: Tamea Burd Photography)

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The content of this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat disease. It is not a substitute for seeking medical advice or counseling. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. You should seek medical attention before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program described on this website.
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