If you’re trying to lose belly fat, chances are you’ve heard about intermittent fasting, a popular trend that involves short periods of fasting followed by eating within a certain time window. While there is evidence that intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, can reduce waist circumference and insulin levels, registered dietician Erin Palinski-Wade suggests that making better food choices and consuming fewer calories throughout the day can also lead to a smaller waistline.
Regularly eating meals that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can support weight loss and contribute to a flatter stomach. Protein is digested slower than carbs and can keep you feeling fuller for longer. Additionally, digesting protein burns more calories than simple carbs and fats, leading to potential weight loss around the midsection. Consuming about 30% of your daily calories from protein can help meet daily requirements, boost metabolism, and control appetite, all of which can contribute to a tighter waistline.
Some good sources of protein include beans, fatty fish like salmon (which also contains omega-3 fatty acids that can decrease inflammation and stress hormones in the body), Greek yogurt, nuts, and poultry like chicken and turkey.
Healthy fats are another component of a balanced diet that can help your body absorb nutrients, keep you full, and provide energy. Some foods rich in healthy fats include avocado, nuts, fatty fish like salmon, and seeds. If you need more guidance on selecting healthy foods, consult a healthcare provider or registered dietician.
When it comes to carbohydrates, not all are created equal. The body uses carbohydrates to produce glucose, which provides energy for the body. While athletes who engage in endurance sports may require more carbohydrates, it’s important to monitor the types of carbs you consume for overall health. Three types of carbohydrates are starches (found in grains like rice and potatoes), simple sugars, and fiber.
Slow-digesting high-fiber carbohydrates can improve blood sugar management and decrease insulin resistance, which can aid in belly fat loss, according to Palinski-Wade. Foods such as oats, beans, and whole grain cereals are nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates that can contrast with carb-rich foods containing added sugars that can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Palinski-Wade also suggests balancing carbohydrates with lean protein and healthy fats for optimal belly fat loss.
Stress management is another factor to consider when trying to lose belly fat. While there is no guaranteed way to eliminate stress entirely, learning how to control your reaction to stress can prevent constant cortisol surges that can lead to visceral obesity, says exercise physiologist Pete McCall.
Here are some tips for reducing stress:
- Practice controlled breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths from your nose into your stomach and exhaling through pursed lips can lower heart rate, reduce stress hormones, and ease shortness of breath.
- Take time for yourself: Spend 10-15 minutes each day doing something you enjoy, such as reading, drawing, or taking a relaxing bath.
- Learn to say “no”: Prioritizing your health and wellness sometimes means saying “no” to requests that can cause unnecessary stress.
- Exercise: Cardiovascular exercise like running or brisk walking can burn calories, reduce stress, and decrease insulin resistance. Resistance training like lifting weights or using resistance bands can also target belly fat. Consistency is key for seeing results.
Bethany Derocha, a registered dietician in Michigan, recommends aiming for at least 30 minutes of resistance training three times a week, along with daily stretching. Regardless of the type of exercise you choose, consistency is essential for maximum benefits.
By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, you can start losing stubborn belly fat and feel confident in your body.