Aside from the fact that belly fat is just plain ugly, excess weight in the stomach region is also dangerous for your health. Belly fat, also called visceral fat, surrounds your internal organs and has been linked to several health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Visceral fat has also been associated with mood disorders such as depression. As we age, we're bound to gain a little extra weight, but it's good to prevent fat from piling up around your midsection. Follow these tips to minimize the accumulation of belly fat before it begins:
Load Up On Fiber. One of the keys to preventing the growth of belly fat is to make sure that 30-35 percent of your diet is from soluble fiber. One study found that the more soluble fiber people consume, the less belly fat they gained over time. Good sources of soluble fiber are beans, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and lean meats. For some unique options, try edamame and soy protein.
Exercise. Many studies have found that moderate to high intensity exercise can help keep visceral fat from accumulating, which greatly reduces your risk of chronic diseases. One study out of Duke University found that increasing your time exercising, as well as ramping up the intensity of your exercise program, reduces belly fat significantly. Make sure your exercises are well balanced and include both strength training and cardio. It's also a good idea to try to work your core muscles by doing crunches or sit-ups. The key is to get your heart rate up and make sure you sweat!
Stay Hydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day - and you'll find you will want even more than that if you exercise regularly. Staying hydrated is crucial to keeping extra weight off because it flushes toxins out of your body. In addition to its hydrating effects, water also keeps you feeling satiated when you're not eating. One study found that people who drink two glasses of water before eating consume fewer calories than those who don't. Start carrying a water bottle around with you, choose water over other beverages whenever possible.
Eat Plenty of Fruits. According to a study out of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, people who ate blueberries every day were less likely than others to gain belly fat over time. They were also less likely to get cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Grapefruit is another great option for preventing belly fat, since it is low-glycemic and aids in fat-burning. Other fruits that help reduce belly weight gain are watermelon, oranges, lemons and kiwi. Try to make sure to have at least one fruit with each meal.
Space Your Meals Throughout The Day. Recent studies indicate that eating more often than a couple times per day is helpful in keeping your weight in check. If you eat a only few large meals each day, you are training your metabolism to work slowly. Alternatively, having one small meal every three hours will keep your metabolism and energy at optimal rates, and you'll burn more calories over the course of the day. Try to include healthy snacks in between your meals so that you're less likely to gorge when it's dinnertime. A few healthy snack options are almonds, grapes, popcorn, apples, low-fat yogurt and whole-grain crackers.
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