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Belly fat, which is also referred to as stomach fat, visceral fat, pot belly, and so on, is the kind of fat that is found deeper in the body compared to subcutaneous fat, which is located just under the skin. Belly fat is particularly dangerous since it collects around the organs in the abdomen. Health practitioners are sounding the alarm increasingly as more and more Americans are being diagnosed each day with high levels of cholesterol, diabetes, heart diseases, and so on - all of them linked to belly fat. So, here are some tips on how to lose belly fat.

Steps to Lose Belly Fat

#1 - Several Meals, Small Size!

When we keep our body hungry for long hours, the blood sugar levels come down, inducing us to eat more in our next meal. The key, hence, is to never let your body go into starvation mode. Instead of 2 or 4 sumptuous meals, opt for 5 to 6 light meals every 3 hours. Usually, when we eat the traditional way - that is, eating 3 times a day - we tend to binge in between, usually on snacks that contribute significantly to belly fat. By eating 5-6 small meals a day regularly, you stop yourself from overeating. Plus, you boost your metabolism; since the body requires energy to digest the food, eating frequently means your body is constantly working. Also, eat the heavier meals in the early half of the day, and let the meals get lighter towards the end of the day.

#2 - You Become What You Eat!

Two words - balanced diet. Foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fats are the best for losing belly fat. Eggs, fish, lean meats, complex carbs like vegetables, and a variety of natural fruits which are not sweetened or canned are the way to go. These foods will also help in increasing the Thyroid Hormone (T3), which helps in burning fat. Make sure to avoid simple, refined carbohydrates that contain white sugar or white flour. Include healthy fats such as fish fats, seeds and nuts, olive oil, etc. Essential fatty acids are necessary for process of burning body fat, especially belly fat.

A neglected aspect of diet is whole grains. According to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in whole grain, where the calorie intake was controlled, helped subjects of the study to lose belly fat. These participants consumed all whole grains along with three servings of low-fat dairy, five servings of fruits and vegetables, and two servings of lean meat/fish/poultry. The explanation of this phenomenon is that a reduction in refined carbohydrates, and an increase in whole grains causes a change in the glucose and insulin response, which consequently increase the mobility of the fat stores.

#3 - Drink On It!

No, that does NOT mean alcohol. In fact, if you want to lose belly fat, AVOID alcohol, especially beer, completely. You need to drink plenty of water, particularly during your workout, and throughout the day. Your body requires water in order to function at its optimum best. When you are dehydrated, the organs in the body work harder in order to retain the water reserve of the body. The liver, which helps in burning fat in order to produce energy, is one of the important organs that suffers the most. When the liver's function is hampered, then the process of burning fat will not be as effective as it needs to be. Avoid drinking canned fruit juices, chocolate drinks, and soft rinks, since their sugar content is very high.

#4 - Sweat It Out!

Always remember - there is no option or excuse for exercise, irrespective of whether you want to lose weight or simply stay fit. Did you hear your parents and grandparents go on and on about how exercising helps maintain good immunity? Let me explain how. The white blood cells of the body - that fight infection and diseases - are carried by the lymph. The lymphatic circulatory system, however, lacks a 'pump' similar to the heart that helps pump blood. Hence, circulation of the lymph totally depends on how much and what kind of physical activity you indulge in. Hence, everything is important - cardio, as well as weight training.

Getting a Cardio Workout
Keep in mind that in order to lose belly fat, calories need to be burnt. Running, jogging, brisk walking, swimming, tennis, dancing, and cycling are great exercises for burning fat. Cardiovascular exercises provide oxygen to the body, and thereby help in burning calories. Plus, aerobic exercises also provide a boost to the metabolism. The ideal duration of your cardio workout should be 30 to 45 minutes, about three times a week, or more.

Lifting Weights
Working out with weights induces the abdominal muscles to work harder and thereby become tighter. Chest presses, lat pull-down, dumbbell rows, free weight squats, and so on, will force your abdominal muscles to work, since in order to perform these exercises correctly, the core muscles have to be stabilized.

Not Overdoing the Crunches
You cannot lose your belly fat by doing those endless amounts of crunches. This is because spot reduction cannot be done in any part of the body, including the abdomen. The only way is to lose overall fat in the body, which can be achieved by incorporating healthy eating habits, and stimulating the metabolism by weight training and cardiovascular exercises. This does not imply that the abs should not be worked out at all. After all, there are muscles in the abdomen, which need to be worked out with the correct intensity and then given rest. The best way to do this is incorporating a circuit style of working out the abs on three alternate days in a week.

#5 - Sleep like a Baby!

Another neglected aspect of our health - sleep. A well-known fact is that people who sleep for less than six hours every night, have much higher chances of being overweight. This is because lack of sleep lowers leptin, and we all know there is a strong connection between leptin levels and weight loss. Hence it is important to have at least six hours of undisturbed peaceful sleep. Less sleep also impedes your body's production of insulin, which controls blood sugar. In stressful situations, our body releases adrenaline, cortisol and insulin. This enables weight gain as high cortisol levels are associated with increased appetite and fat production, and this fat typically finds its way to the belly area. Another fact is that if you are sleep-deprived, the exercise you do in fact tires your body and sends it into starvation mode, so that everything and anything you eat is "stored" rather than "metabolized".

Some General Rules

Though not hard and fast, these 'rules' will definitely help improve your overall health and hence shed those kilos!
  • Meal Times - these have to be as regular as you can keep them. Also, have the last meal of the day before sunset.
  • Empty Stomach Workouts - NO! Never! Never ever exercise on an empty stomach. If you absolutely find it difficult to eat before working out, have about 5 to 6 almonds soaked in water overnight, or have a fruit; but never workout on an empty stomach.
  • Eat After Workout - make sure you eat within 45 minutes of working out; this is to get your muscles out of the wear-and-tear mode of exercising and replenish them.
  • Fibers Are Good - make sure you include lots of fibers in your diet. They will help regularize your bowel habits and will also contribute to detoxifying your body.
  • No (Wo)Man No Cry - do not get disheartened and give up on your belly fat at any point! Belly fat is always lost last; irrespective of your exercise regime, you will first lose excess fat from other parts of the body, and then the belly. So be prepared, and don't get bogged down!
So that was all about losing belly fat. That may look like a lot of things to do; but the truth is, you are only adopting a lifestyle that is healthy and will prevent you from putting on. Isn't that great? Wish you luck - hope you lose oodles of weight and become absolutely irresistible!