Stomach or belly fat occurs for various reasons, such as consuming junk food or processed foods with added sugar and not having an active lifestyle, which eventually gathers excess weight gain in the body’s center around the abdomen, also known as excess abdominal fat.
1. How Much Fat is Good Belly Fat?
Little belly fat might not be that risky in acquiring any chronic disease. Regardless, too much belly fat accumulation can cause incurable diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Belly fat is about 10% of the total body fat percentage. This fat is also known as Visceral fat. Body fat percentage is directly proportional to belly fat. If your body fat percentage has increased, it is likely, your visceral fat will also increase.
2. Types of Belly Fat
1. Subcutaneous Fat
Subcutaneous fat is primarily present underneath our skin. It is also called Subcutaneous adipose tissue(SAT). The visible fat is generally challenging to lose. However, this fat might not be that toxic in acquiring any diseases.
Subcutaneous fat is challenging to lose because it safeguards our body from extreme hot and cold temperatures and muscles and bones while falling or bumping into hard surfaces.
Women tend to possess more subcutaneous fat than men.
2. Visceral Fat
Visceral fat or adipose tissue(VAT) is a concealed belly fat originating around the organs, particularly the kidneys, pancreas, and liver. This fat accumulates inside the abdomen and is more unhealthy than subcutaneous fat.
Visceral fat is normal, only if it ranges approximately 10% of our total body fat.
Visceral fat is more common in men than women; that’s the reason they tend to have apple-shaped bodies.
3. Main Causes of Stomach Fat
a) Consuming Unhealthy Foods
Unhealthy Food intake primarily results in abdominal fat accumulation. A poor diet contains high levels of sugar, salt, and fats, causing extra weight gain, which slows down the metabolism and affects an individual’s capability to burn fat .
High sugar intake with foods such as candy cakes or high-sweetened beverage consumption can slow down weight loss.
A poor diet also refers to high-carb diets, such as refined flour bread, pasta, or french fries, which are low in protein. Foods without lean protein result in overeating, as protein-rich food supports an individual to stay fuller for longer.
Trans fats are present in junk food and unhealthy packaged foods such as chips, cookies, and rolls. Trans fats cause bad cholesterol in our arteries or blood vessels, resulting in attending heart disease. Trans fats also provoke inflammation which eventually leads to obesity.
It is suggested to replace trans fats with foods containing monounsaturated fatty acids, such as nuts and different seeds, which helps reduce belly fat.
b) Lack of Body Movement
High-calorie intake influences weight gain, especially abdominal fat. An idle lifestyle without including any form of exercise causes it challenging for an individual to reduce those extra calories.
It is scientifically proven that genetics might affect a person’s behavior, risk of disease, and weight management issues. Every individual is different in terms of gathering fat. One might eat the right amount of food with high nutrients but still cannot achieve a flat stomach. Bloating arises in this case. To avoid such a situation, one must be aware of how and where they store fat.
Some individuals store fat around the waistline, while some around their hips and thighs.
d) Not Getting Enough Sleep
Irregular sleeping pattern highly affects losing weight. Sleeping for shorter durations or waking up at night might be related to high-calorie or food intake.
Not getting enough sleep also triggers overindulging and hence, causes extra abdominal fat.
e) Smoking or Alcohol Consumption
Consuming alcohol or smoking cigarettes regularly might affect weight loss or weight gain. It causes inflammation and hence leads to obesity.
An active smoker is at high risk of gaining weight around the tummy, likely to have a reduction in lean muscle mass and a drop in muscle strength.
An individual often indulges in foods containing extra calories to relieve their stress. However, a stress hormone called cortisol is released into the bloodstream to help a person experiencing stress or encountering anxiety. When cortisol is released excessively, it accumulates fat around the tummy as the metabolism slows. Cortisol hormones also increase appetite to satisfy our emotional needs.
4. How to Lose Belly Fat or Achieve a Flat Stomach
Everyone desires a flatter stomach, but one has to follow different steps to get a flat stomach. Here are the following ways to flatten your tummy and reduce belly fat.
a) Cardio Exercises
Performing Cardio exercises or abdominal exercises such as crunches, jumping jacks, jogging, and sit-ups, especially targeting stored fat around abdominal muscles and the tummy, might be helpful to shed body fat around the stomach. Core exercises also help to strengthen our core muscles, including the abdominal muscles.
Sprinting is one of the best cardio to reduce fat around core muscles in the belly.
Trying Aerobic Exercises, Aerobic exercise is a type of cardio that includes taking a brisk walk, swimming, or cycling, which ultimately helps shed a flat stomach by reducing fat accumulated in the abdomen. Aerobic exercise also tends to lose liver fat.
Cardio training for just half an hour might work to lose weight and get a flat stomach. However, overdoing can impact muscle growth.
Cardio Exercises are not that beneficial to burn fat around the stomach. It has more to do with toning the abdominal muscles. Spot reduce fat is not at all true to life.
b) Resistance Training
Resistance training refers to weight training that involves lifting weights to reduce body fat, which also results in weight management. Resistance training includes weight lifting, pushups, lunges, squats, and deadlifts.
Resistance training reduces extra belly fat rapidly in comparison to cardio training or aerobic training. Resistance training also plays a vital role in building muscle power by recovering the loss of muscle mass caused mainly due to inflammation.
Investigations in the case of obese adolescents recommend that merging resistance training and aerobic exercise is a successful way to lose weight or get a flat tummy.
Obese is typically witnessed in women more than men. Around 40% of women are likely to get obese. Obese women have an increased body weight, usually caused by to lack of body movements after eating too many calories.
c) Eliminating Food Cravings
Food cravings are evolving typically nowadays as individuals suffer from stress, fatigue, and dehydration.
Sugar cravings are the most common ones when it comes to cravings. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and added sugar intake in terms of cake and candies are highly satisfying to fulfill our desired cravings.
Food delivery apps have also made it easy to consume canned food, which eventually causes binge eating.
i) How to Stop Cravings
Cravings might also occur when you are thirsty. Gulping down water can help you beat that desire to eat. Drinking water before feast also has its benefits, which include weight loss and lessening appetite or hunger.
Cravings are not that easy to overlook as they satisfy our emotional needs.
Distracting oneself by performing activities such as walking and taking a shower help curb our cravings.
Consuming non-sugary chewing gum might also help to lessen cravings.
Planning Meals or Having Frequent Meals
Meal planning for a week will allow you to indulge in only those food on your list. Not having a meal plan might tempt you to eat whatever comes to your mind to burn starvation immediately.
One might also end up using food delivery apps to order food.
Having meals frequently has many health benefits, like an increase in metabolism and body composition, stabilization of blood sugar, and elimination of hunger which eventually helps to reduce belly fat and get a flat stomach.
Having protein first thing in the morning has benefits, such as making you feel wholesome, which eventually curbs cravings and helps the body lose weight as it strengthens muscle mass and builds core muscles.
4. Consuming Healthy Foods
Having weight loss-friendly foods such as lean protein such as eggs, green vegetables, yogurt, beans, and many other options helps you lose weight efficiently.
To achieve a flatter stomach, one must have food with fewer calories—a diet of healthy foods that do not contain refined carbs, such as white bread.
However, eating food with high nutritional significance, such as fiber and whole grains, is an added advantage for a flat stomach and defends weight loss.
Some sources of whole grains are Brown rice, whole wheat, corn, quinoa, and barley.
a) Including Foods Rich in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids help in reducing bad cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fatty acids usually help in reducing body weight and also help to get a flat tummy in all age groups.
Monounsaturated fatty acids exist in several foods or even oils that comprise olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, nuts like almonds and hazelnuts, and seeds such as pumpkin and sesame seeds.
b) Having a Lot of Fibers
The digestive system hinders when stress hormones release into our bloodstream. The hormones cause constipation.
Maintaining a healthy digestive system supports weight loss and acquiring a flat stomach as it soothes bloating.
The digestive tract comprises organs that usually allow the food to pass when gulped down. The organs include the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, intestines (both small and large), rectum, and anus.
Bloating is a condition that is provoked due to water retention(caused due to consuming foods high in salt or sitting and standing for a longer duration) and the formation of gas in the intestine.
Consuming a fiber-rich healthy diet like oats and cereals allows the food to transit easily through the tract resulting in non-bloating and a flat stomach.
5. High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training or HIIT is a workout strategy where an individual puts their efforts into a short period followed by taking breaks(10-20 secs) or intervals for recovery.
A particular exercise can last for almost 4 minutes to 20 minutes. HIIT includes jogging, walking, sprinting, and many other forms of exercise.
HIIT can help lose body weight as efficiently as traditional cardio. HIIT does not involve a specific kind of exercise. So, it might not appear as mundane training.
6. Counting Calories
To get rid of body weight, especially stomach fat. one much track their calorie intake.
Counting calories is quite beneficial to restrain from overindulgence or emotional eating as sometimes we eat more or mindlessly than the body burns.
Nowadays, several apps have been introduced, the installation of which can help count calories. Hence, helps to lose weight, including achieving a flat stomach.
7. Moving Body in Other Ways
Body movements in other ways, such as a switch in a push-up position, which includes performing diamond push-ups, clapping push-ups, pike push-ups, and one-handed push-ups.
Exercises that involve standing up are more helpful in maintaining a flat stomach.
8. Probiotics Intake
The consumption of probiotics, which contain active bacteria, has several health-beneficial qualities.
Probiotics not only maintain the overall health of the body but also help in weight loss.
Probiotics are those living microbes mostly present in fermented edibles, namely yogurts, kombuchas, pickles, cheese, and many other sources.
Consumption of probiotics may not be adequate for weight loss, considering other ways to get a flat stomach. They are mainly helpful in maintaining good gut health.
Probiotics may not exhibit identical results in everyone. To lose weight through probiotic consumption might be harmful to someone. One should always consult a doctor before use.
9. Walking Every Day
To get a flat stomach, one should include walking regularly.
Walk regularly might have a long-lasting effect on our overall health.
Different apps nowadays also help keep track of steps per day.
Before embarking on a journey of losing belly fat, its always a good idea to consult a doctor, a dietician, or a health care professional so that if you make significant changes in your diet routine or performing a specific physical training should not hinder your health condition, especially in case of an underlying disease or comorbidities. They could help with providing valuable information, and you can move forward in achieving your goals.