IT’s the most dangerous kind of fat – the stuff that sits around your tummy.
So shifting it, isn’t just about fitting into your skinny jeans, it’s also vital for your health.
But shedding belly fat – or visceral fat – is easier said than done.
Look online at many of the spectacular body transformations and most of them tend to revolve around the keto diet.
But not everyone believes that keto is the healthiest (mentally or physically) way to slim down.
In fact, one PT and nutrition coach, Graeme Tomlinson (AKA The Fitness Chef) says that keto is the “most misleading diet out there”.
With that in mind, here are seven simple, scientific ways to lose that gut for good:
1. Break your fast
If you always start the day with a slice of toast or bowl of cereal, a simple change could make all the difference.
A high-protein or fat meal first thing, before introducing carbs from lunchtime is a good way of tapping into the body’s fat supply.
“Eating a breakfast high in fat and protein may help with shedding abdominal fat as the blood sugar levels are more stable and the yo-yo of insulin is to a lesser effect,” explains, nutritionist Sonal Shah.
“For visceral fat to be reduced, lowering carbohydrate intake is important throughout the day. So it’s better to cut out refined carbs from the day and swap to carbohydrates that are of a low GI (glycemic index).
“The GI reflects the level of carbs a food contains and how quick it is digested. Refined carbs and high GL carbs encourage blood sugar lows and highs which stimulate insulin which is responsible for fat storage around the midriff.”
2. Cut the sugar and booze
Zana Morris, author of The High Fat Diet: How to lose 10lb in 14 days, and founder of The Clock and Library Gyms, says that belly fat is linked to sugar consumption.
“Sugar causes the release of insulin, which in turn encourages the body to store fat particularly around the middle,” she told The Sun.
Does that mean that if you cut out sugar, you’ll lose that stubborn spare tire? Zana says yes.
“Cutting sugar and foods that break down quickly into sugars (e.g. fruit/bread/pasta/wine), will reduce and stabilise levels of insulin as well as help your body to look to fat for fuel.”
It’s a combination of fat and sugar that we crave, which comes in the form of chocolate, pastries or pizza.
Reducing your free-sugar intake will help the body to utilise its own fat supplies without compromising on the essential vitamins and minerals you get from whole grains and naturally-occurring carbs.
3. Reduce your calories
You have to be in a calorie deficit – you have to burn more energy than you consume.
It’s really hard to do that by exercise alone, you’ve got to change your diet too.
4. Forget the sit-ups
Think you’ve got to spend your evening smashing out hundreds of sit-ups if you want to see abs?
Crunches and sit-ups may well help to strengthen your core muscles but they’re not enough to make a massive difference on their own.
You’re much better off working on getting stronger as a whole through lifting weights at the gym, and doing cardio.
Cardio is both amazing for heart health and it helps you to burn through calories, while weight lifting is probably the single most effective thing you can do to change your body composition.
In order to reduce your body fat, you need to increase your lean muscle mass – something that weights can help with.
Think “strong” and “lean” will come as a by-product.
5. Concentrate on gut health
There’s nothing that gut health doesn’t seem to affect.
It’s been linked to IBS, endometriosis, anxiety and depression. And there is some suggestion that it might also be responsible for people putting on fat – particularly around the belly.
Scientists from Washington University have found that people carrying excess weight tend to have greater numbers of the Firmicutes bacteria – suggesting that this particular bacteria might encourage the body to absorb more calories from food.
One way of reversing that is to re-balance your gut bacteria composition.
Make sure you’re eating a wide variety of gut-loving foods, including lots of green veg, yoghurt, fermented things like sauerkraut and whole grains.
6. Sleep more
According to PT Laura Hoggin’s new podcast, Biceps & Banter, “abs aren’t made in the kitchen, they’re made in bed”.
Dr Hazel Wallace says that sleep is really important, both for overall health and for changing your body shape – if that’s your goal.
She said: “We grow when we’re asleep. Your human growth hormone’s elevated when you’re asleep so when it comes to people who are keen on growing muscle or performing in the gym, that’s where you make those gains.”
So while diet is important (experts say fat loss is 80 per cent diet, 20 per cent exercise), sleep is absolutely crucial.
7. Reduce stress
Body transformation coach and founder of gym Salus London, Laurence Fountain, told us that the stress hormone cortisol interferes with different hormonal effects.
“Firstly, it’s going to interfere with your thyroid – meaning it’s going to be very hard to burn fat when your cortisol is high. In fact, you’re going to be more likely to burn muscle.
“Too much cortisol can also lead to an over-stimulation of the brain during sleep causing an increase of ghrelin – the hunger hormone, which is going to make it impossible for you to control your appetite and stay away from simple sugars and high-fat foods.
“And when ghrelin high, leptin is going to be low so it’s going to stop you from feeling satisfied.”
Being in a prolonged state of stress then leads to digestive issues, with our systems struggling to break food down properly and causing inflammation – or bloating.
As well as prioritising sleep, make sure that you’re not overdoing the exercise and that you’re giving yourself a break from your phone.
Why not download a meditation app like Headspace that you can devote five minutes to every day?
I tried eating with chopsticks for three days but it was one big hassle
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You might also want to try putting your phone on airplane mode when you get home so that you’re not bothered by emails or social media when you’re trying to mentally switch off in the evening.
Shedding body fat isn’t about buying expensive products or starving yourself with faddy diets.
It’s simply a case of being kind to yourself – prioritising healthy habits and making small tweaks that can get you closer to your goals.