Natural Foods - Healthy Decisions - Exercise - Recovery
Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference measurement in assessing obesity.
Frequently, people are bothered by the presence of visible abdominal fat and don’t consider the dangerous health consequences of visceral fat, the fat that is deep in the abdomen surrounding the internal organs. Excessive amounts of visceral fat sets the stage for the development of the metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Better known is the fact that generalized obesity increases one’s risk for heart attack, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to address excess belly fat:
The best way to lose fat from the belly is to lose weight overall. This is best achieved by a combination of regular physical activity and caloric restriction (dieting). For most people, this is neither an easy nor a rapid process. The most lasting results from weight loss programs usually come from slow, steady progress, not from extreme diets or exercise programs. Emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread and refined-grain pasta. Pay attention to portion size. Reduce saturated fat sources of food from your diet, such as red meats and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter. Dietary fat should come from foods that are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, such as fish, nuts, and olive oil. Use the BMI and waist circumference to monitor your progress. When these become normal for your weight and height, a marked improvement in your belly fat is almost certain.
Exercise to assist with weight loss. Many studies have shown that getting regular exercise, along with dieting, is the best way to lose weight. Weight loss occurs whenever more calories are burned than consumed. To illustrate, A general rule of thumb is you need to be in an energy deficit of around 7,000 calories (29,400 kilojoules) to lose one kilogram of fat. By cutting your caloric intake by 300 calories a day along with a 300-calorie bout of exercise, it takes half as long to lose that same kilo of weight. A recent study from (USA) Duke University demonstrated that aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, etc.) was better than resistance training (“pumping iron”) in reducing visceral fat and improving risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. In their study, aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training. For most healthy adults, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends performing moderate aerobic activity, for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging, for at least 75 minutes a week. More than this may be required during the initial stages of a weight loss program. Although not as effective in burning calories, the ACSM also recommends performing 8 to10 strength-training exercises, with 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, twice a week.
Establish life-long exercise and eating habits.
After losing weight, continuing to eat sensibly and exercise regularly, appear to be the keys to maintaining that weight loss. That was an important finding from the (USA) National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a study of 4,500 men and women who were successful in losing at least 13.6 kilos and keeping it off. After monitoring this group for 10 years, 94% of them were participating in regular physical activity. The most common form of activity, reported by 76% of participants, was walking. Most of these individuals spent approximately 1 hour per day exercising. Walking is an excellent life-long activity since it is easy on the joints and muscles and does not require special equipment or skills. A second finding of those who were successful in maintaining their weight loss is that they continued to consume a reduced calorie/low fat diet. Women in the NWCR study reported eating an average of 1,306 kcal/day (24.3% of energy from fat) and men reported consuming 1,685 kcal (23.5% of energy from fat).
Many people ask about targeting belly fat with specific exercises. The general term for this is called “spot reduction”. Abdominal “crunches” for example are thought to be a way to specifically target belly fat. Unfortunately, spot reduction is almost impossible to achieve. Sit-ups, for example, are beneficial for abdominal muscle strengthening, but sit-ups alone will not get rid of the layer of fat that is covering the muscles. Nor will abdominal strengthening exercises address the deeper, visceral fat. Overall weight reduction through dieting and regular exercise is the best way to reduce ”belly fat”.
For information on weight loss, schedule a consultation with our Dietician / Health Coach.