Sure, you could argue that it’s not even springtime yet, but summer is still right around the corner. You’ve tried sit-ups and every ab exercise you could possibly imagine, but that belly fat is still there every time you glance down. What gives?
Contrary to popular opinion, drastic dieting is not helpful and can actually be harmful! Diets that put intense stress on your body can cause a hormone in your body called cortisol to rise. High cortisol levels, especially if sustained will promote weight gain as well as the breakdown of lean muscle mass. Certain dietary restrictions should still be followed, but you don’t need to do anything too crazy to lose those love handles (good news!).
So how ARE you supposed to lose that belly fat, and what things should you avoid? Here are 6 easy and healthy tips to get you started. Check back later to add more tips to your collection!
1. Don’t Skip Meals!
We’ll start off with an easy one! Sure, you may lose weight by skipping meals…but where is that weight coming from? Most studies show that the weight you lose from skipping meals mostly comes from muscle. Terrible, right? In addition to all the side effects that come with skipping a meal (decreased ability to focus, decreased energy, nutrition deficiencies, and so on), you won’t even be
getting the benefit you’re chasing. Limiting meal portions is certainly important, but don’t skip meals to get that flat stomach!
2. Short Bursts of Full-Body Aerobic Exercise
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to do 1000 crunches a day in order to get a flat stomach. There are multiple studies showing that limiting your exercises to only include your abdominal muscles will not lead to effective weight loss. Full-body aerobic exercises are much more useful for this purpose, and also come with more health benefits from getting that heart rate up! As you get more advanced, read into the idea of interval training. It’s a great way to compress the benefits of an hour long run into a much shorter time for both increased weight loss and easier scheduling into your busy day!
3. Join a League
Let’s say you’ve tried the whole gym membership routine before, and it just wasn’t for you. Let’s also say you tried telling yourself you were going to go on regular runs and, well, that didn’t pan out. Joining a league is a great way to force yourself to take those first few steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Your teammates will be counting on you to show up, which makes it more difficult to give yourself the day off. It’s also a great idea for people who need some sort of competition in order to stay motivated to keep running.
4. Cut out Sugar
We held off on this one for a bit, but in the end I have to deliver the bad news. Sugar is your enemy if you are serious about having that flat stomach you’re dreaming of. Eating (or drinking, for that matter) high quantities of sugar forces your liver to convert that sugar into adipose tissue, which has a tendency to pile up around your waist. This is especially true for refined sugar, and is not really a concern for certain naturally sweet foods such as fruit. Cut back on sweets, sugary drinks (pop and even juice), and anything else with refined sugar. It gets easier as the days go by!
5. Sleep Hygiene
This is something that often gets swept under the rug simply because of how busy we find ourselves being. Skip that extra scroll down your social media timeline, it will still be there in the morning! Studies have found that a lack of
sleep can lead to issues with your ability to digest and properly handle glucose, in addition to issues with focus, cognition, and numerous measures of health. Get that extra few hours with the lights turned off. Your body will thank you for it.
6. Track Your Calories
While we don’t advise extreme methods of calorie-cutting such as skipping meals, the “calories in vs. calories out” idea is not entirely false. Eating large portions, such as those served at many restaurants in our society, will make it more difficult to lose weight. Another strategy is to split up your daily diet into 5-7 meals per day, rather than consuming all of the calories in 3 meals. When you digest a meal, your body can only use so much at any given point, leaving the remainder to be stored as fat. By splitting up your calories into multiple smaller meals, you can still eat a lot without the added belly fat! In addition to all of this, tracking your calories in a journal or in an app will allow you to objectively see the types of food that you are consistently eating. Be honest with yourself, and observe your strengths and weaknesses.
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