Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we’re reading fitness and nutrition articles is to finally find out how to get rid of that stubborn belly fat. Surrounded by a multitude of wellness adverts, reality TV shows, and influencers with perfect six-packs, we’re thrown into a world where being fit is a requirement. We believe that everyone is beautiful, but we also understand everyone who wishes to chisel their body and is willing to dedicate time and effort to reach that particular goal.
Vanity aside, from the point of view of health, belly fat can be considered an issue which could lead to serious health concerns. Taking good care of our physical health is not only about looking pretty with or without our favorite pair of jeans – it’s about feeling great inside our bodies and being able to live our lives happily and effortlessly. Read on to discover several scientifically proven ways to lower your visceral fat levels and achieve the performance and look you deserve!
What is visceral fat?
There are two types of fat in the human body – subcutaneous and visceral. The former is the fat just below the skin, the so-called “outer” fat, whereas the latter is the fat, which surrounds your internal organs, the so-called “inner” fat. Having excess visceral fat can be way more dangerous, as it could lead to many unwanted health complications, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, and more.
The tricky part about determining whether or not your visceral fat levels are too high is the fact that you can’t directly see it. You can be very thin on the outside, and still have visceral fats. Actually, some degree of visceral fat is perfectly normal and should not be seen as a concern. To get an accurate perspective, you need to undergo an imaging test in a specialized medical facility, which is usually very expensive. If you’re okay with using simpler, cruder tools, then grab a tape measure and wrap it over your belly without sucking it in. If you’re a woman, and you measure above 35 inches, or you’re a man and you measure above 40 inches, then that’s a somewhat good indication that your visceral fat levels are high. Another way of determining is using an online BMI calculator (Body Mass Index Calculator). According to general science, a BMI score of 30 signals that you’re overweight.
How do you get rid of visceral fat?
Visceral and subcutaneous fat, at the end of the day, are still fat. There’s no way to target either one of them, so the general advice is to follow the established guidelines.
To put it simply, if you want to burn off excess fat and turn your body into a magnificent greek-god-like sculpture, you need to exercise and eat clean, while being in a caloric deficit. That’s it. There is no secret formula, no all-powerful supplement, and no gimmick. The truth is often unimpressive, and when it comes to fat loss – that’s the case as well.
However, we’re not here for that. We’re here to help you with concrete examples. We’re here to give you a guide on the specific things that you could do today to kick-start your weight loss journey! So, without further ado, here are the five steps you can take to get into the shape you’ve always wanted, and the shape you’ve always deserved!
#1 – Exercise, exercise, exercise
Jogging, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, even walking – you name it! Pick your favorite and devote a portion of your time to doing it. There is no set-in-stone activity that will burn visceral fat specifically, so you get to do whatever you like the most!
The main reason why we become overweight is the lack of activity in our day-to-day life. As a society, we’ve moved far away from the pastures, fields, and hills, and have entered the era of the office, the car, and the apartment. Yes, not all of us are in such a condition, but enough of us are.
Sitting all day, in combination with eating high-calorie foods, is the real evil mastermind behind the obesity epidemic. You don’t notice it, but months and years of eating excess sugar, processed foods, and consuming too much alcohol makes us fat and sluggish. We simply consume more calories that our body can burn in these conditions. You’ve probably heard the fitness mantra “calories in vs. calories out”, and it’s very true. If your body can’t use all the energy it gets from food, it saves it as fat to be used later. The trouble is, later never comes.
To burn your visceral fat off you need to start moving. Walk the stairs instead of taking the escalator, walk or cycle to work, park your car farther away from the office, go on hikes on the weekends, find time in your day for a 45-minute cardio session, hit the gym and hit those weights. You decide, and that’s the beauty of it. Weight loss isn’t something to scorn and despise, it shouldn’t feel like a chore or a military drill – it should be fun and enjoyable.
Put on those dusty running shoes and go out for a walk! You’ll thank us later!
#2 – Too much sugar will kill you
Nowadays, sugar is everywhere – even in places, where you wouldn’t expect it – ketchup, for example. And come on, we all love ketchup! Maybe that’s why we love it so much, because it has just enough sugar to make us crave it more and more!
The truth is, sugar, just like all the sweet things in life, has to be taken in moderation. Simple sugars pack a whole lot of calories, and burning off the calories from one coke can takes an astonishing 25-30 minutes of jogging! Yes, you heard us! Can you even imagine jogging for 30 minutes? Who would’ve thought that the simple pleasure of sitting down and enjoying your coke for lunch would come at such a cost?
We know it’s hard, but cutting out sugar as much as you can will definitely help you lose that stubborn layer of fat! In combination with being more active, this simple dietary change can benefit you tremendously!
To make it easier, we challenge you to write down every sweet food and beverage you love, and then cross them out one by one, leaving only your favorites. Every couple of days, let’s say 4-5, you cross one out, and you make sure to not eat/drink it again. If you fail, don’t worry, write down that you’ve failed and start over. This way, you’ll keep track of your progress and you’ll be way more accountable. On top of that, you won’t have withdrawal symptoms, since your favorites will be the last to get crossed out! Of course, if you don’t want to fool around and you want to begin burning fat ASAP, then feel free to quit cold turkey! It’s on you, though!
#3 – Make sure you prioritize your Z-z-z time
Sleep is one of those things that often get overlooked these days. We’re so busy that we don’t have enough time to sleep, which says a lot about our overstimulated way of life. Coffee, work, more coffee, more work, kids, traffic jams, ceaseless sounds and flashing lights everywhere – there’s no escape. We have so little time that we feel it’s necessary to sacrifice time from our sleeping hours, which leads to nothing but increased stress levels, which lead to a decrease in the quality of our hormonal functions (especially the sex hormones), which lead to more stress, which then leads to increased appetite, which, finally, leads to increased fat. Visceral fat, to be more precise.
It is vital that you sleep for at least 7 hours a night, but if you can, 8 hours is the ideal amount. Your body and mind need to recover properly, and sleep is the best way for it to do so. According to several sleep scientists, sleep is nature’s closest attempt at immortality. It literally prolongs our life, despite consuming 1/3 of it.
To help you sleep better, you can employ several strategies, such as:
Light a scented candle or use a diffuser before you go to bed.
Turn off all sources of blue lights (monitors, phones, TVs) 30-60 minutes before hitting the bunk.
Do some light stretching or yoga to make yourself relaxed and get rid of the excess tension in your body.
If necessary, consult your physician and get a prescription for melatonin supplements.
Come up with an evening ritual which you perform before sleeping – this way you’ll condition your organism to know what’s coming next, making falling asleep easier.
Cut down on caffeine during the day and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages 6 hours before bedtime. (The same goes for sugary drinks, but we know you’ve quit sugar already!)
#4 – Design your diet around whole foods
What causes us to eat whatever we can get our hands on? Exactly, the lack of time and the fact that junk food is very comforting and incredibly tasty. You can definitely see a trend here – everything wrong about our modern way of life leads to an increase in fat, an increased risk of disease, and an overall negative experience of life.
Eating a diet composed entirely of whole foods will not only make you less fat, but it will make you feel better, happier, and fuller! You won’t have the nasty cravings you do now, because your body will be running on proper fuel, and it will thank you for it.
Not only that, but you won’t be consuming any extra calories that will later be stored as fat. Actually, even if this is the only change in your lifestyle you commit to making, we can guarantee that you will naturally become leaner over time! Why? Because you’ll be eating according to your body’s natural needs and you won’t be stuffing it with chemical-packed foods. It’s that simple. A nice rule of thumb to follow is: Don’t eat anything that comes inside a plastic bag, plastic container or wrapper.
Having said that, here’s a detailed list of the whole foods you can start eating today:
Whole grains – brown rice, bulgur wheat, barley, quinoa, wholegrain rice
Fruits – berries, bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, pomegranates, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, pineapple, melon, watermelon
Vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, avocado, kale, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, garlic
Dairy products – yogurt, greek yogurt, skyr, cottage cheese
Beans and legumes – lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, white beans, black beans
Meat and fish – chicken, pork, turkey, beef, salmon, cod, shrimp, oysters, eggs
Nuts and seeds – chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamia nuts, olive oil, peanut butter
Herbs and spices – salt, pepper, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, basil, oregano, thyme, dill, chives, cayenne pepper
#5 – Less is less
The fewer carbohydrates you consume, the less visceral fat you’ll store.
That’s because more often than not, we don’t burn all the calories a high-carb meal provides. On top of that, all the sugary snacks and starchy meals we’re used to are packed with carbs, making it even harder to utilize all of them. When our body cannot utilize all of the energy we provide it with, it simply turns it into fat.
One of the biggest reasons for an increase in visceral fat is the combination of a sedentary lifestyle and a high consumption of carbs. First we overload our system with too much energy, and then we don’t use enough of it. This vicious cycle repeats over and over again, over many months and years, and suddenly we look in the mirror and are shocked and devastated by what we see.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Moderate your carb intake and you’ll quickly notice your fat levels decreasing.
Combining it all together
There is no magic pill to fat loss. There is no magic supplement, either. Simply follow the advice we’ve given here and make sure to stick to it. It will take time, that’s a fact. It will take discipline and effort, and there will be days where you don’t feel like doing anything. That’s completely fine! After all, we’re all human, and we shouldn’t punish ourselves!
Enjoy the process and make it work for you! That’s the secret. Have fun and enjoy accomplishing your goals!