A common problem for men and women both is the accumulation of visceral fat, or belly fat around the midsection. Overweight and obese persons often have a much higher ratio of visceral fat than individuals who are considered to be of a healthy weight, but depending on your body type, excess fat may accumulate in this region despite the healthiest of lifestyles.
Some fat around your belly is normal, and provides cushioning, support and protection to both bones and organs. As we get older and our metabolisms slow, it is not uncommon for additional fat to accumulate in this region, especially in women. As previously stated, heredity and hormonal changes as well as your body type may make you more or less prone to belly fat.
Studies have also shown that factors such as depression and stress also have an effect on the accumulation of belly fat. Especially for women of a slender physique, stressful times may cause your body to react by storing fat in your abdominal region instead of your hips, butt, or thighs. However, everyone stores fat differently – which is why some people are considered to have an ‘apple-shape’ while others have a ‘pear-shape’.
Besides causing an uncomfortable or unattractive appearance, women with excessive belly fat can also develop serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, hypertension and colorectal cancer. Men run similar risks, with conditions like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome developing as a result of excessive fat accumulation.
So what can one do to prevent the onslaught of additional belly fat? A common misconception is that by completing ab-specific exercises such as crunches or sit-ups that belly fat will be obliterated. While these types of exercises do help to strengthen the muscle underneath the fat, they do not necessarily work to alleviate the problem itself. Fitness experts agree that a combination of strength training and aerobic exercises are the only thing that will completely eradicate belly fat. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your fitness routine.
- Consult with a doctor before starting any new regular fitness routine. A doctor can help you determine what a healthy weight for your age and frame should be, and also help recommend exercises that you should avoid due to current injuries or ailments. A visit to a nutritionist can help determine what factors in your diet may need to be adjusted before you can be successful in your weight loss endeavor.
- Burn more calories than you consume. The concept is simple, if you consume less calories than you burn off every day, then your routine will result in a weight loss. However, if you’re supplementing your new fitness routine with extra food, you may not see the results that you are hoping for.
- Eat a responsible diet. Processed or fast foods should not be a staple in anyone’s diet. Even if you’re counting calories, the extra sodium and preservatives found in these types of food may actually cause you to retain more weight. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and a minimum of sugar.
- Focus on a full body strategic workout. Focusing on your entire body when you’re working out will increase your metabolic rate and fat-burning hormonal response. Isolating specific body parts such as just your abs, will not help to burn the actual fat covering the muscle. A well-rounded training program that focuses on the entire body is best – and is key to losing that unwanted belly fat.
- Participate in 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity five days per week. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, both men and women can reduce the amount of belly fat that they have by participating in just 30 minutes of cardio five times per week. To really boost the impact, tack on 15 minutes of strength training exercises after your cardio sessions, such as crunches, leg lifts, pushups, etc.
To lose that stubborn belly fat, it is important to not only focus on exercising, but also your diet and methods of fitness as well. Ab exercises are beneficial to help strengthen the abdominals, back, and core however doing strictly these motions or repetitions will do little to actually reduce the amount of fat on top of the muscle. Follow these simple bulletpoints and you will eliminate that belly fat in no time.