Most people will agree that the hardest part of the body to sculpt is the abdominal area. In my quest to achieve my fitness goals, I have lost 4 inches in my abdominal area so far and I will show you how to lose belly fat in this article.
What Causes Belly Fat Build-up?
Excess belly fat is so common because many factors can contribute to this “spare tire”, “love handles”, “muffin tops”, or “pot belly” syndrome. If all the root causes are not addressed all at the same time, then there is no way your belly fat will go away. Here are some factors that contribute to excess belly fat:
- High calorie diet that is heavy on trans fat
It’s no myth that eating too much can make you fat. If you consume more energy than your body can burn, then your body stores that extra energy as fat for later use. Researchers at Wake Forest University have also found that trans fat is a major contributor to belly fat.
- Not enough sleep or irregular sleeping patterns
Sleep deprivation lowers the amount of leptin in your system, the chemical used for suppressing appetite. Sleep deprivation can also lower your insulin levels, which helps regular your blood sugar. Toying with these chemicals in your body so often by sleeping irregularly can have permanent adverse affects on your body (obesity and diabetes) .
- High stress levels
Prolonged stress can causes our body to produce an excess of the cortisol hormone. A small amount of these hormones are beneficial, but a large consistent amount can be detrimental to your health in many ways. You guessed it, one of the drawbacks of cortisol is that it also contributes to belly fat.
- Lack of exercise or incorrect exercise routines
It’s simple math. If you consume more energy (calories) than you burn each day, that extra energy gets stored as fat cells. Believe it or not, localized stomach workouts are actually one of the least effective workouts for burning off excess belly fat.
- Drug abuse (alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana)
Drugs have adverse effects on your energy levels and appetite. After one night of binge drinking, your metabolism slows down temporarily and will not recover for two days. Cigarette cravings often feel like hunger cravings so people misunderstand and ingest food even when they are already full. A well-known side effect of Marijuana is its ability to promote appetite.
How to Attack These Root Causes
I will be writing a few articles to talk about some of these things in more detail later on. For now, here are some quick suggestions:
- Come up with a weekly school/work/life schedule that works in the following elements: 7-9 hours of sleep starting at about the same time each night, minimum 4.5 hours of exercise, grocery shopping, and cooking time.
- Come up with a healthy eating pattern (more on this on a later article) and try to not eat trans fat. You can also try to incorporate these natural fat burning foods into your diet. I suggest that if you don’t have time to cook, you should either shift to eating simpler meals (cereal, salad, soup, fruits, steamed vegetables, etc.) or try freezer cooking to save time and still be able to eat healthy. In general, food cooked at home is much healthier than food purchased from restaurants.
- Try to exercise at least 4.5 hours a week. Three times each week at the gym: spend 45 minutes on weight lifting workouts focusing on building slow-twitch muscles and spend 45 minutes doing interval training (alternating low intensity and high intensity aerobic based exercises). Slow-twitch muscles should help you burn extra fat day-by-day.
- Find a way to de-stress yourself. Try scheduling a meditation or yoga session weekly. It might also help to adopt a new regime for getting work done or find ways to improve your mood.
- Say no to drugs. Try to limit yourself to 3 drinks at social events. If you are a smoker, remind yourself that feeling of hunger can just be cigarette cravings. You really don’t have to drink or smoke to be social. I’ve lost a total of 20 lbs. ever since I’ve stopped smoking and stopped binge drinking.
- Take fish oil supplements to help improve your metabolism. See another post on the fish oil supplements out there.
More Help Is on the Way
I will be continuing this discussion in later posts, going into detail on which exercises to perform, which diet plan to follow and which de-stressing techniques to try. Until then check out my post on using the ECA Stack for weight loss and stay tuned to this blog via the RSS feed!