Where you store your fat is, unfortunately, not entirely in your hands. Some women have more fat on their hips, others around their waist. Stimulating local fat loss by, for example, doing many sit-ups, is not possible. Therefore, a slim waist starts with a healthy weight / healthy fat percentage.
TIP 1: A HEALTHY FAT PERCENTAGE
The quickest way to figure out if your waist size is acceptable is by measuring it with a tape measure: a waist size greater than 88 cm (35 inches) indicates obesity.
TIP 2: REPLACE ALL REFINED PRODUCTS FOR WHOLE WHEAT PRODUCTS
A 2009 study, published in the American Journal of Nutrition, showed that a diet rich in whole grains leads to less belly fat. This applies for both visceral and subcutaneous fat. The more whole grains that the participants of the study ate, the less belly fat they had. Conversely, participants who ate a lot of refined products had significantly more abdominal fat, even if the total energy intake was the same. Look at the chart below and replace any product in the left column for products in the right column, and you’re well on your way.
|White or brown bread||Wholemeal bread|
|Cereal||Oatmeal / porridge|
|White rice||Brown Rice|
|Cakes and biscuits||Fruit|
|White pasta||Wholemeal pasta|
TIP 3: GET ENOUGH SLEEP (MINIMUM OF 6 HOURS PER NIGHT)
A 2010 study showed that a lack of sleep leads to a significant increase in both visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat. Nevertheless, the link between sleep and abdominal fat was found only for people younger than 40 years old. Several studies show that the normal balance of hormones becomes disrupted when you don’t get enough sleep, which can lead to (over)eating.
TIP 4: KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR CORTISOL LEVELS
My what?! Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. It can increase both the storage of fat in the abdominal area and the glucose level in your blood. The latter is quite useful in case of a “fight or flight” situation; if the physical response fails to appear, the glucose will be converted into fat.
Thus, if you have a busy and hectic life, this might result in a higher level of abdominal fat. Make sure you get enough rest and do some occasional breathing exercises at hectic days to control your stress level.
TIP 5: INCREASE YOUR DAIRY INTAKE (AND / OR TAKE A CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT)
In a study published in 2001 by Michael Zemel, a correlation is found between increased dairy and calcium intake and burning and storing fat. The research showed that overweight people and people who follow an energy-restricted diet lose more weight with adequate dairy intake. And even better: they lose more belly fat. The amount of calcium from the study was 1000 mg / d. This corresponds with:
– 4 glasses of 200 ml of semi-skimmed milk, or
– 4 slices of 30 grams of 30+ cheese, or
– 5 cups of 150 grams of low fat yogurt
If you can’t manage to eat/drink this amount of dairy, you can consider a calcium supplement.
TIP 6: DON’T EAT TOO MUCH SALT
Well, you’ve heard this one before, haven’t you? And perhaps the far-away-in-the-future effects of a diet that contains too much salt didn’t get you to lower your intake. In that case, I hope this argument will convince you: eating too much salt results in a bloated belly. Salt causes your body to retain water. You can find this tasty ingredient in many foods, so make sure to watch out for it in your daily intake.
Another reason not to eat too much salt: salt promotes the breakdown of calcium.
TIP 7: MAINTAIN GOOD POSTURE
This implies standing upright, with a straight back, squared shoulders, your chin up, chest out, and stomach in. It does not change the amount of fat on your stomach, but it does change your appearance into a leaner and tighter version.