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7 steps to reducing abdominal fat and maintaining a healthy midsection

Before and After BMI

September 18, 2017

7 steps to reducing abdominal fat and maintaining a healthy midsection

Everyone has abdominal fat – even someone with washboard abs – but if you’re overweight, you may be carrying extra belly fat. It’s important to learn how to reduce abdominal fat because having too much can lead to it forming around your internal organs. This type of fat (known as visceral fat) can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancer, including breast cancer.

If you’re overweight, there is a good chance that you may be carrying extra belly fat, a fact that sometimes begins to not only cosmetically change the way we look in the mirror, but also the increase of extra inches around your belly can be an indicator of your internal health.   

Close-up of person’s feet on a scale.

The type of fat that a person stores around their abdominal region is known as visceral fat. Visceral fat, sometimes known as “Active fat”,  is body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. As visceral fat continues to grow, your internal organ processes will begin to be less effective, as this type of fat will begin to form around these essential organs, eventually causing extensive health issues to arise. 

Research has shown that this type of fat plays a distinctive and potentially dangerous role in affecting how our hormones function, as well as how well our internal organs operate. 

As these health issues begin to significantly affect your quality of life and overall health,  the warning signs of potentially serious complications up to and including life-threatening issues from seriously affected organs. For these reasons, as well as a score of many related health issues that could come from storing an excess of Visceral fat,  It is highly important to learn how to, and implement a plan in order to reduce abdominal fat. There are many ways to accomplish this goal, however eating right, exercising, and taking action to lose weight are incredibly important in the fight against abdominal fat.

1. Lose weight

Although abdominal fat can be tough to specifically target, losing overall body fat can help reduce this particular type. In fact, when you’re losing weight, belly fat is often among the first kinds to go. It is obvious that most times losing weight leads to better overall health, especially when considering the dangers of carrying extra weight in the abdominal section. Although there are more extreme surgical methods that can be undertaken to immediately reduce the fat in your abdominal section, there are other effective approaches that you can engage in without going under the knife to control and reduce the visceral fat that is so dangerous to your body. There are many combinations of activities, lifestyle choices, and diets that can help you on your weight loss journey, but for the sake of eliminating abdominal fat, there are a few proven methods that can help you begin to live healthier, feel better, and ultimately reduce the amount of fat you carry in the midsection.

Asparagus make for a healthy snack.

2. Eat more fiber

People who increase the amount of soluble fiber they eat every day build up less visceral fat over time than people who eat less fiber. The change doesn’t have to be huge, as adding just half a cup of pinto beans or a cup of green peas to your daily diet can give you enough fiber to protect against this type of fat.

Eat a Well Balanced Diet

When considering the best way to lose weight, exercise is not the only ingredient to better health. What goes into your body is by many accounts just as, if not more important than just fighting off the calories that you are consuming. Intrinsically it’s easy to think that eating less food is the answer, however, eating and drinking the right things in the right amounts is a key factor in losing visceral fat and weight in general. 

A diet that is set in eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein is incredibly important to finding a balanced diet. Just as important as the amount of these foods you consume during the day, and at what times. A good rule of thumb is to keep your meals small but regularly throughout the day and try not to eat anything after the early evening so that your body has a chance to burn some of the calories before going to sleep every night. Also, it is extremely important to cut as much added sugar from your food choices as possible. Sugary foods, desserts, soda, and even alcohol contain types of sugar that have a tendency to be quickly absorbed by the body quickly ending up as excess visceral fat, especially if you are unable to immediately exercise those types of calories away.

Cutting board with grilled chicken surrounded by rosemary and lemons.

3. Get plenty of protein

As you age, your body starts to produce more insulin – a hormone that can make your body store fat, especially around your abdomen. A high-protein diet can help protect against the insulin resistance that causes your body to produce more of this hormone. Adding more protein to your diet can help you lose overall weight in addition to belly fat.

Women using pool noodles for aerobic exercise to learn how to reduce abdominal fat.

4. Get more aerobic exercise

Crunches and sit-ups probably come to mind first for getting rid of belly fat, but since focusing on a particular part of the body doesn’t really target specific areas of fat, aerobic exercise is more effective. Anything that increases your heart rate – such as swimming, cycling, running or brisk walking – can help burn abdominal fat.

Exercises for midsection weight loss 

Visceral fat begins to shrink when you begin to engage in regular endurance exercises. Although crunches and sit-ups probably come to mind first for getting rid of belly fat, however, this type of exercise focuses on a particular part of the body that doesn’t really target specific areas of fat. When you begin to start aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, biking, or rowing, your heart rate will become elevated for a sustained amount of time, calling for more energy to be used. Fat in general is essentially storage for unused energy in caloric form. As your heart rate increases, so will the need for additional energy to be consumed. One of the first places the body taps for extra energy is abdominal fat, due to its location and relatively easy process of accessing it. 

Anything that increases your heart rate, even taking a brisk walk – can help burn abdominal fat. The key is to really push yourself to break a sweat and continue to do so for an extended period of time. The longer you can continue, the more calories you will consume, meaning that the visceral fat will be used as the source for this energy. As energy is used, the fat will break down, and you will see the results of your hard work as you go along. 

Step counting, weight tracking, and even measuring your waist, hips, and neck can be good indicators of your weightloss journey. It is highly suggested by weight-loss experts and dieticians that you exercise no less than 30-60 minutes a day to shrink your midsection, so, keep in mind the work you are putting into your journey, and use these tools to keep you on track.

Plus-size woman doing yoga to learn how to reduce abdominal fat.

5. Reduce stress

When you’re under stress, your body releases more cortisol, a hormone that’s linked to abdominal fat. Whether you take more time for yourself and the activities that you enjoy or try stress-busters like yoga or meditation, reducing stress can help you reduce belly fat.

Salmon on cutting board with rosemary.

6. Eat more healthy fats

Saturated fats – the kind found in meat and butter – can make you pack on more abdominal fat than polyunsaturated fats. Found in foods such as salmon, nuts and seeds, polyunsaturated fats are also known as “healthy fats” and can help you build muscle and reduce body fat.

Woman lying in bed and hitting snooze button on alarm.

7. Get enough sleep

If you get five hours of sleep or fewer on a regular basis, your body has increased levels of visceral fat, and if you wake up and go to bed at the same time each night, you’re likely to have lower levels of body fat. Getting enough sleep and keeping a consistent sleep schedule should be a priority since it can affect not only your abdominal fat, but your overall weight and health.

A good rule to go by is to set a regular sleeping schedule where you wake up and go to bed at the same time each night. This will increase the likelihood of your body becoming accustomed to a normal fat-burning cycle and will help regulate your metabolism, eventually leading to holding on to lower levels of body fat. Getting enough sleep and keeping a consistent sleep schedule should be a priority since it can affect not only your abdominal fat but your overall weight and health.

You deserve the healthier version of yourself that you’ve always wanted. Continue using our health tips to learn how to reduce abdominal fat, and if you’re interested in bariatric surgery, contact BMI of Texas today.