Belly fat — that’s the stubborn layer of fat around the waistline — can cause various metabolic problems associated with obesity. This fat is also called visceral fat, as it’s located deep under the skin, around the organs. You can estimate whether you are carrying too much belly fat by simply measuring your waist (at the navel, standing with your feet together) with a tape measure. Anything over 80 cm (31.5 inches) in women and 94 cm (37 inches) in men can mean an increased risk of heart problems and stroke. Reducing belly fat can be difficult, but there are a few proven strategies to target the fat around the waistline. Here are some of the most reliable.
Avoid foods that increase belly fat
Losing belly fat isn’t just about what you eat, it’s about what you avoid as well. Some foods increase belly fat, while others can help burn it. These are the foods to avoid, and the best substitutes.
– Refined grains
Unlike whole grains, refined grains lose valuable nutrients during processing. Eat brown rice and pasta and wholemeal bread rather than their white equivalents. Whole grains affect the body’s insulin and glucose responses, and that makes it easier for the body to burn fat, especially the visceral fat that accumulates in the abdomen.
– Saturated fats
Saturated fats come from animal foods such as meat and dairy products. Reducing the level of saturated fats in your diet will help you lose belly fat and is good for your general health. Eat more unsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which mostly come from plants. Olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are nutritious and filling, so they keep you feeling fuller for longer, often at a lower calorie cost. Monounsaturated fats also boost the metabolic rate, which means you burn fat quicker, particularly from the abdominal region.
– Trans fats
Trans fats are produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, forming a solid fat that is unhealthy. Some foods that contain trans fats are commercially prepared bakery goods and fast foods, which are high in calories and do not satisfy hunger. Avoid them.