My most often complaint is about belly fat because it is not particularly conducive to wearing those super tight skinny jeans but the truth is, belly fat does damage way beyond having to make wardrobe changes. This type of fat is called visceral fat and it creates stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect the body's production of insulin. So, worse than just being overweight, you also will carry a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
1. Never Stop Moving
The one good thing about visceral fat, it disappears pretty easily with aerobic exercise. Running, biking, swimming -- anything that gets the heart rate up -- beats out resistance training for solving this particular problem.
2. Eat Protein Like You Mean It
Here's why protein is really important in your meals: "Your body starts to produce more insulin as you age, since your muscle and fat cells aren't responding to it properly," explains Louis Aronne, MD, Director of the Obesity Clinic at Cornell. Insulin promotes fat storage around your middle. Aronne says that a diet high in protein may protect you against insulin resistance. In one study, obese women who followed a diet for eight weeks that was roughly 30% protein, 40% carbs, and 30% fat lost significantly more fat (including visceral fat) than women who stuck to a plan that was 16% protein, 55% carbs, and 26% fat.
3. Pound the Polyunsaturates
Saturated fats pack on more weight than polyunsaturated ones says a Swedish study published just recently. When subjects ate 750 more calories daily for seven weeks, either in the form of palm oil (saturated) or sunflower oil (polyunsaturated), the former gained more visceral fat while the latter gained more muscle mass and less body fat. So, get eating those nuts, seeds and fish!
4. Pucker Up
A 2009 Japanese study, found that obese people who ate a tablespoon or two of vinegar a day for 8 weeks, showed a significant decrease in body fat, visceral fat in particular. "One theory is that the acetic acid in the vinegar produces proteins that burn up fat," explains Pamela Peeke, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Fight Fat After 40
5. Chill Out
A 2012 study found that postmenopausal women who did yoga for 16 weeks reported a reduction in visceral fat. If you aren't into yoga, any relaxation exercise should do the trick. The key is to lower the levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in your body.
6. Get The Hell To Bed
Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Routinely getting by on 5 hours or less increases visceral fat levels. Not getting enough sleep throws everything out of balance. Hit the sheets, folks.
7. ...But Don't Sleep Late on Weekends
Women who wake up and go to bed at the same time every day have lower levels of body fat, according to a study out of Brigham Young University. If you don't have steady sleep habits, your internal clock goes insane which causes your body to secrete stress hormones like that pesky coritsol.
8. Become a Green Tea Drinker
Moderate exercisers who consumed green tea reaped the benefits of the antioxidants found inside called catechins and were more likely to burn belly fat while exercising than those who didn't. All you need is 2-3, 8 ounce cups.
9. Get Fussy About Fiber
You need to eat a lot of it. n a 2011 trial, subjects who increased their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams a day (the equivalent of two small apples, one cup of green peas, and one half cup of pinto beans) reduced visceral fat by 3.7% after five years.
Most of the things on this list are pretty easy to do. Let's start today!