One of the most important keys to losing belly fat is our diet. Of course everyone knows that junk food is bad for our waistlines. But did you know that certain types of high-fat foods are precisely what we should be eating to lose those love handles? And eating too little can actually increase belly fat?
It can be confusing for any dieter to know which foods to eat and which to avoid. But figuring out how to lose belly fat is particularly challenging. Excess abdominal weight, or visceral fat, is hidden deep within the abdominal cavity. Targeting it requires a special strategy different from most calorie-reduction diets.
So what are the dos and don’ts for dieters who want to lose that stubborn belly fat?
DON’T crash diet. A sudden and drastic reduction of calories is not only impossible to sustain, but it also causes our stress hormone levels to increase – resulting in an accumulation of abdominal fat.
DO reduce calories sensibly. 1600 calories per day for the average woman, and 2000 for the average man, is ideal for losing belly fat. This is low enough to drop pounds but enough to maintain energy levels and preserve calorie-burning muscle.
DO eat little and often. Have a 400-calorie meal every 4 to 5 hours to help control your hunger and keep your metabolism revved-up.
DON’T eat saturated fats found in animal sources of food. These are the bad fats that raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats also head straight for the belly and stick there like glue.
DO eat monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and avocados. These are the good fats that increase the production of a super hormone that burns off belly fat.
DON’T eat processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Just don’t.
DO eat plenty of whole grains. Adults who eat three or more servings of whole grains each day have 10% less belly fat than those who don’t. Whole grains are good for your heart, too. Fill up on oatmeal, whole grain bread and brown rice.
DO eat fruit. Experts believe that fruit helps curb overeating because the fiber leaves you feeling fuller on fewer calories. Blueberries and cherries are thought to be particularly good belly-fat burners.
DO eat dairy. This might seem contradictory to everything you’ve ever heard about dieting. But low-fat dairy foods like yoghurt and milk can lower the levels of cortisol – a hormone that produces fat and steers it directly to the belly.
DON’T drink alcohol. Not only is it high in empty calories, but alcohol can also increase cortisol hormone levels.
DO eat lean proteins like salmon, turkey and tofu. There’s a lot of hype about high-protein, low-carb diets. But a sensible amount of lean protein helps to build muscle and boost the immune system.
And, finally, DO take losing belly fat seriously. Excess abdominal weight is directly linked to serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia and some types of cancer. Follow these dos and don’ts and you’ll quickly be on your way to a healthier, slimmer you.