If you want to know how to lose belly fat, you're not alone. Just Google this term...
"How to Lose Belly Fat"
...and it will return 2,610,000 results as of this writing.
So clearly, a lot of people are struggling with excess belly fat. The good news is that there are some natural, easy ways to trim your tummy and reduce various health risks.
Health Risks of Excess Abdominal Fat
Carrying excess belly fat is not only annoying, but it can also be dangerous to your health. The reason? Research suggests that visceral fat significantly increases the risk of developing several health issues.
There are two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is distributed throughout the body. It is located just underneath the skin. You can see it and pinch it, and it jiggles when you walk. 90% of stored fat is subcutaneous.
There are health benefits to subcutaneous fat. For example, it helps insulate your body, secretes the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, and stores energy. But having too much of this type of fat can increase your risk of specific health problems, such as osteoarthritis and heart disease.
Carrying excess subcutaneous fat also indicates that you have too much visceral fat.
Visceral fat is located deep in your abdominal cavity under the abdominal muscles. It surrounds several essential organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys, impairing bodily functions.
This type of belly fat is considered metabolically active, producing hormones, chemicals, and inflammatory substances that can cause numerous health issues and diseases.
Health Risk of Visceral Fat
Excessive visceral fat is associated with numerous conditions, including:
Type 2 diabetes
Abnormal cholesterol levels
High blood pressure
Fatty liver disease
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Causes of Visceral Fat
There are several potential causes of visceral fat, including:
Lack of sleep
7 Natural Ways to Lose Belly Fat
Though there is little you can do about genetics, there are steps you can take to minimize its effect on you.
Read on to discover simple natural methods for reducing belly fat and improving your health.
1. Eat More High-Quality Protein
Eating a high-protein diet can help you lose weight and keep it off. There are a few ways it can help you shed excess weight.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, (2) which can keep you full for a long time and minimize excessive calorie intake.
Protein has a high thermic effect. Indeed, it takes more calories to digest protein than any other macronutrient increasing your metabolism short term.
Protein helps build lean muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active, fat-burning tissue. Building muscle increases your resting metabolic rate, the number of calories you burn when inactive. Therefore, the more lean muscle you have, the faster you’ll burn calories.
There is also evidence that a high protein intake inhibits abdominal fat accumulation.
A study published in theJournal of Nutrition, for example, found that "Substituting a modest amount of protein for carbohydrate may reduce abdominal obesity." (3) Other studies suggest that high protein meals lead to decreased energy (calorie) intake and belly fat. (4)
To benefit from its belly-fat burning benefits, you must consume at least 30 grams of protein every meal.
High-quality protein sources include:
Chicken breast (humanely raised)
Salmon and other fatty fish
Nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2. Enjoy a High-Fiber Diet
Research strongly suggests that a high-fiber diet can prevent weight gain and reduce body fat, including the dangerous kind hidden deep within your abdominal cavity.
There are a few ways it can help you manage your weight.
Dietary fiber promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which could prevent metabolic syndrome and obesity.
A high-fiber meal more quickly activates the stretch receptors inside the stomach, signaling satiety and discouraging excessive calorie intake.
Fiber slows digestion, resulting in a gentle rise in blood glucose levels, which keeps you full for a long time and reduces fat storage.
A high-fiber diet is associated with reduced belly fat in research studies. One study found soluble fiber intake significantly decreased visceral fat accumulation. (Reductions in subcutaneous fat were noted, too.) (5)
You should get most of your fiber from nonstarchy vegetables for the best tummy-slimming effects. Though whole-grain products like whole-wheat bread contain a significant amount of fiber, they are digested quickly, causing a spike in stomach-fattening blood glucose levels. (They rank moderate to high on the glycemic index scale.)
What about fruit? Though fruits are high in fiber, they also contain a significant amount of fructose (sugar). Consequently, you should limit your fruit consumption to low-sugar varieties, primarily citrus fruits and berries.
Geat nonstarchy vegetables include:
3. Limit Intake of Refined Carbs
A high-carb diet is associated with increased belly fat, likely due to its effect on blood glucose levels.
With no fiber to slow digestion, refined carbs are quickly converted into glucose and then dumped into your bloodstream resulting in a glucose-level spike. Because insulin must clear the excess before it reaches dangerous levels, it transports most of the glucose to your fat cells, especially those in your abdomen.
Several research studies suggest that a low-carb diet can reduce belly fat. For example, one study found that those on a very low-carb ketogenic lost three times more abdominal fat than those on a low-fat diet! (6)
So, reducing refined carbs is a great way to lose belly fat. Therefore, you should limit your intake of refined carbs, including:
Most package foods
Remember, you don't have to change your diet overnight. Instead, slowly replace these processed foods with nonstarchy vegetables. You can also replace some of them occasionally with whole grains, but as mentioned above, these foods still cause blood sugar surges promoting abdominal fat.
4. Cut back on Sugar
Sugar is a refined carb that deserves its own section.
Sugar is a highly inflammatory, toxic substance that wreaks havoc on your waistline and health. It is absorbed quickly, causing a spike in blood glucose levels with eventual weight gain and the accumulation of too much belly fat.
Its negative effect on body fat is particularly true of sugar-sweetened beverages. One of the reasons appears to be the form of sugar -- high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Several research studies have found that HFCS is metabolized in the liver, causing excessive fat in this organ. (7) This can lead to fatty liver disease. It is also associated with increased belly fat.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that "Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans." (8)
The science is compelling that sugar consumption is terrible for your health and weight. Therefore, you should start cutting back on sugary foods and beverages, including:
Foods with added sugar
5. Do High-Intensity Interval Training
Regular physical exercise is crucial to losing weight and shedding that belly fat. However, one type of exercise is better than others for burning belly fat -- high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT is a form of exercise where you alternate short bursts of highly intense physical activity with less intense recovery periods. The recovery period can involve less-intense exercise or complete rest for 20 seconds.
Several clinical research trials show that HIIT works better than a moderate-intensity continuous exercise in losing belly fat.
For example, in one study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, researchers found that moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) and HIIT reduced overall body fat in obese female subjects. However, those performing HIIT lost the same amount of fat in less than half the workout time of the MICT group. (9)
In addition, researchers found that adding HIIT periods to the MICT workout significantly enhanced visceral-fat reduction. (10) These results confirmed similar findings in other studies.
So, if you want to target belly fat more efficiently, you should add some HIIT workouts into your weekly exercise schedule.
6. Get More Sleep
Sleep is crucial for your mental and physical health. Yet, research shows that 35% of Americans get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. (11)
Could lack of sleep be responsible for the ever-expanding waistlines of Americans? Not exclusively, but sleep deprivation certainly doesn't help.
Recent research from the Mayo Clinic found that lack of sleep combined with unrestricted access to food "led to a 9% increase in total abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat, compared to control sleep." (12)
Indeed, researchers noted that lack of sleep predisposes one to "abdominal visceral obesity." (13)
Though not investigated in this study, prior research suggests that cortisol is the primary factor for accumulating belly fat regarding sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep increases levels of the fat-storage hormone insulin. Usually, insulin shuttles excess glucose to fat cells throughout your body for later usage. But sleep deprivation causes insulin to shuttle glucose to cells in your abdominal area. As a result, chronically-high blood cortisol levels are associated with excess belly fat.
So, if you have trouble losing fat, especially in the abdominal area, you may want to adjust your sleep habits.
Here are a few tips to help you get a good night's sleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night. A consistent sleeping schedule is critical, as it trains your body to start getting tired near bedtime.
Avoid devices before bed. The blue light emitted from device screens interferes with melatonin production. So, to cultivate a good night's sleep, you may want to put away your devices an hour before bedtime.
Make sure your bedroom temperature is cool. Sleeping in a cool temperature -- around 65-68 degrees -- helps you fall asleep faster. It also helps your body produce more melatonin.
Reduce light in your bedroom. Any light can interfere with melatonin production, even if it's coming from the neon numbers on your alarm clock. So, you might want to turn your alarm clock away from you, put black drapes on your window, or wear a sleep mask to bed.
7. Take SANE Aamia™ Daily!
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