The fat around the tummy is the easiest to gain and sadly, the toughest to shed. It is known as the visceral fat, and some amount of it is required to provide cushioning to the organs, but too much of it can pose a major risk to your health. Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta shares, “There is a strong co-relation between belly fat and cardiovascular diseases. We have heard of apple and pear-shaped bodies. Those who are apple shaped have a considerable amount of body weight around the abdominal area and are at a higher risk of developing cardio-vascular diseases." There are a couple of factors that contribute towards belly fat and you need a combination of a good diet and regular exercise to get rid of the extra pounds. In some cases, the hidden reason for a bulging belly may be an unrelated factor like stress or sleep deprivation. Here are six secrets to losing belly fat that you may not have known.
1. Ditch Foods That Have A High Glycaemic Index
Simply cutting down on your carb intake may not be sufficient. You also need to look out for the Glycemic Index. Glycemic Index (GI) measures the impact of different food items on our blood sugar levels. Bangalore based Nutritionist Dr.Anju Sood explains the consequences of having foods with a high glycemic index, “It is a matter of how you mobilize the fat you consume which will affect the visceral fat accumulation. The moment you load up on high glycaemic index foods, your blood sugar levels spike up suddenly. This excess sugar would eventually be stored as fat, and result in a bigger belly. Low glycemic foods do not cause sudden sugar spikes, they delay your digestion and are also rich in fiber.” So, load up on nuts, legumes and vegetables without starch and steer clear of potatoes, white rice, white bread and sugary canned juices as much as possible.
2. Switch To Fiber-Rich Foods and Whole Grains
Fibre takes a long time to digest, hence it gives you the feeling of fullness and prevents you from binging on other high-carb foods. Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta suggests, “You must include high fibre foods such as leafy vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Whole grains have a positive impact in maintaining satiety. Eat a lot of beans, brown or whole grain rice, nuts and dry fruits to maximise on your fibre.
3. Load Up On Proteins
Most of our Indian meals are high on carbohydrates which may make you lose out on the adequate protein intake, but proteins are essential. There is a good reason why all nutritionists and fitness experts always stress on increasing your protein intake. It boosts metabolism, reduces your appetite and controls several weight-regulating hormones. High protein intake increases thelevels of satiety (appetite-reducing) hormones such as GLP-1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin, while reducing the levels of the hunger hormone called ghrelin. Proteins take the longest to digest, which aids weight loss. Eggs, oats, broccoli, poultry, fish almonds and milk are great sources of protein.
Eat Your Fats
Yes, you heard us. Shunning fats completely may not be the best idea as fats make up the majority of your cell walls andare instrumental in balancing hormones. Not all fats are bad, one must know the difference. Consuming healthy unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil, coconut, fish and nuts and seeds, not only keeps you satisfied but also stimulates the fat-burning process in your body. Dr. Sood recommends, “Around 15 to 20 percent of your calorie intake has to be fat, out of which 50 percent should be from visible origins (ghee, butter, and oil) and the remaining half from invisible origins which are already present in the food you eat. Recent studies have noted that you need to have 3 parts of poly-unsaturated fatty acids and 1 part of saturated fats for optimum health."
When you are sleep deprived and low on energy you automatically inch towards comfort foods that are high on sodium and carbs. Lack of sleep also slows down the metabolic activity. The two hormones working in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, your body produces more ghrelin . On the other hand, leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin in your body. Increased amounts of ghrelin, and less leptin may lead to weight gain. Dr. Rupali says, “ You need eight hours of good quality sleep daily. People might argue that it is not essential, but sleep deprivation along with damaging your health, may also induce weight gain.”
Tried all possible exercises to lose belly fat but no desired results? You probably need to calm down. Stress induced weight gain is becoming a popular phenomenon these days, and a certain hormone called cortisol may be tagged as the culprit here. Shilpa Arora, Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner, explains, “When you are tensed, the body releases cortisol as a result of which there is a rise in the insulin levels in the body. This results in a drop in the blood sugar level and that's why you crave high carbohydrate and sugary foods.” The body releases chemicals in response to the food you eat, which might have a calming effect, and this is how you may end up gaining those few extra and unwanted pounds around your belly in an attempt to beat stress.
Shilpa adds, “High cortisol production can confuse the entire endocrine system and increase your appetite. Stress also leads to the over production of ghrelin - your hunger hormone.” The concentration of the hormone is controlled by an enzyme found mostly in the abdominal region. Hence, there is greater storage of fat in the tissues of the abdomen region when you are stressed. Learn to delegate your work, breathe, relax, and plan. Make sure you have enough vitamin C. It is known to boost the adrenal gland, which regulates the secretion of cortisol. Try and take out at least 30 minutes to engage in anything that de-stresses you such as dancing, listening to music or reading. Yoga or regular exercise also helps in reducing stress.
So, what are you waiting for? Take note of these tips and set out on shedding those excess pounds already.