Does this sound like click bait or what? But, really, who among us does not wonder about their belly from time to time. You only have to wander around the fitness-related internet a little bit before you run across a bunch of ways to get rid of belly fat. Or, you can find a lot about how to finally get washboard abs.
Alas, there are lots of “suggestions” or “cures” or “quick solutions” out there, with some of them hoping to sell you something.
Here’s the thing. Our bodies do what they do. Meaning, they respond in kind (or unkind) to what we do to it. Therefore, it behooves us to figure out what is best for it. That goes for general health as well as targeting the midsection.
At this point we could have a discussion about acceptance of different shapes and sizes that we see all over the globe and throughout history. But, for the purposes here, we are just going to talk about losing a bit from around our middles in case you are interested. Or, know someone who is.
On to the nitty gritties
There is a lot in health news feeds about the differences between subcutaneous fat (found just beneath the skin) and visceral fat (which is stored around our internal organs that are located in our bellies.
Because visceral fat is located right next to many of the organs that run our metabolisms, it is more “metabolically active.” That means, among other things, that it affects our health more than the fat that sits around under our skin.
Most of what they tell us about visceral fat is not positive. To spell it out, it contributes to chronic inflammation, clogging of arteries, blood clots, formation of diabetes, and general cardiovascular disease. Even dementia.
What causes it? There is, of course, eating too much and lack of exercise. This is not news. But, some people are more prone than others. People with more fat in general will have more visceral fat. Men are more likely to carry extra fat around their midsection. Not to be outdone, women can get their fair share, especially after menopause, because fat often gets redistributed from legs to abdomen. And, as we all get older, fat tends to migrate inward. We have less subcutaneous fat and more visceral fat. Then there’s genetics, which is not to be sneezed at. Several genes linked to body fat distribution have been discovered.
Enough of that. Basically, we (you) may be just wanting to know how to get rid of some the belly. I don’t need to tell you that it helps you look and feel better and be healthier.
Here’s the deal:
- You can’t lose belly fat by exercising that area (otherwise known as spot reducing), ingesting certain foods, or vibrating it off.
- To be fair, you can spot reduce belly fat by going for some surgical removal. Some hormone therapies can help with redistribution. Otherwise, not so much.
- To lose an inch of fat around your waist, it takes about 4-5 pounds of general weight loss. This information comes from a reliable source that has checked this out in thousands of people.
- With consistent effort, people can lose between .8 to 2 pounds a week.
- That works out to 3-4 weeks of consistent healthy habit changes to lose up to an inch from the waist. That’s up to, depending on the changes.
- While there aren’t any foods that magically shrink belly fat, it’s a fact that highly processed foods can derail you, mostly because they are so easy to overeat.
- Fun fact: There was a study done with rats, mostly because you could not ethically do a study like this in humans. They fed the rats either a diet high in saturated fat or a diet high in trans fats (trans fats are the nasties that are often found in processed foods). After 8 weeks, the rats on the trans fats had significantly more visceral fat than the saturated fat group. You could ask a lot of questions about how the study was done, but it is still an interesting finding, and worth thinking about.
- In terms of exercise, it is consistent effort that helps. And not thousands of crunches either. It’s about aerobic activity and some resistance training, of the type that you will do consistently.
OK, that was a lot. There’s just one more thing….
Be nice to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion is actually linked to healthier eating and more consistent exercise. Furthermore, it is linked to less anxiety, less stress, and general well-being. Beating yourself up not only makes you feel bad, it makes it more difficult to take up new, healthier habits.
One example would be what happens when you are down. You don’t sleep as well, and it can be easier to succumb to emotional eating or stress eating. This can be a rabbit hole that is difficult to get out of.
For more on self-compassion, check out my blog called Laughing at your Mistakes.
That’s it! No magic bullets, no super pills, no special equipment. Just you.
All the best,
© 2023 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Sorrapong | iStock