We often hear that excess weight is bad for our health, but the reality is that being overweight isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, plenty of heavy people are in great shape, many people who aren’t technically overweight can have issues that are usually associated with obesity.
Why? Research has shown that one of the main culprits is belly fat.
Other kinds of fat are more of a superficial concern rather than a serious health issue.
How do you know you’re packing a bit much around the waist? Grab a measuring tape and measure your waistline at home.
Anything over forty inches for men and thirty-five inches for women is considered excess abdominal fat.
If that sounds like you, it’s a good idea to make some lifestyle adjustments to reduce the size of your belly.
The good news is that you won’t have to do anything drastic, as the steps you’ll need to take are fairly simple.
Here are 6 science-backed ways to lose the pot belly.
First, lay off the sugar
Sugar additives are terrible for your health, and also happen to be one of the primary causes of abdominal fat. Specifically, drinks like soda are one of the main culprits.
The problem? Sugar is loaded to the brim with fructose.
Your body needs glucose to function properly, but fructose is a completely different story.
Unlike glucose, fructose can only be processed by the liver. When you injest too much of it, your liver gets overwhelmed and is forced to convert the fructose into fat.
Liquid sugar, which is used in soda and juice, is an even bigger problem in this respect.
Your brain isn’t as good at registering liquid calories, which means you may be consuming a ton of fructose without satisfying your hunger pangs.
This is most likely why sugar-sweetend drinks are linked to a sixty percent increased risk of obesity in kids.
The solution? Lay off the coke, juices, and other similar drinks. Also, remove sugary foods from your diet or just back off them significantly.
One thing you don’t have to give up is fruit.
While fruit does have a ton of sugar, the amount of fructose contained in fruit is peanuts compared to sugary drinks or processed foods.
Plus, fruit has a ton of fiber, which definitely outweighs any negative effects from the fructose.
Something you need to remember is that even foods that are pitched as healthy may have a lot of unnatural sugar.
How do you know that what you’re consuming is doing your body more good than harm? Pay attention to labels when you go grocery shopping. It’s the only way to be 100% sure!
Second, load up on protein
A protein-heavy diet is an effective way to shed pounds generally, and studies show that protein is especially helpful for people who want to curb their waistline curves.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Studies have found that protein-heavy diets reduce cravings by sixty percent. These diets can also help you cut down your overall calorie consumption by up to 441 calories.
That’s a huge difference, considering that an hour at the gym only burns about 300 calories on average!
Moreover, researchers from Denmark have demonstrated that people who eat more protein are a lot slimmer around their waistlines.
So how much of this miracle nutrient do you need to consume?
Many experts agree that protein should account for at least one fourth of your total calorie intake for the day.
If you want to lose weight effectively, 25-30% is about what you should be aiming for.
The best sources of protein are foods like eggs, fish, seafood, legumes, nuts, meat, dairy, and whole grains.
Vegetarians or vegans sometimes have a hard time including a ton of protein in their diets.
If that’s the case for you, picking up a good protein supplement should do the trick. If possible, go for whey protein.
Another thing you can try is cooking your food with coconut oil. Just two tablespoons a day are enough to help kick your love handles to the curb.
Basically, if you want to lose weight, up your protein intake.
Third, cut down on carbs
Since you’ll be consuming more protein, the next step is to cut carbs out of your diet.
Studies show that restricting carbs helps people lose weight, and also reduces hunger pangs.
Counterintuitively, low-carb diets have been found to be at least twice as effective as low-fat diets in terms of weight loss.
Research has shown that, even when people who cut back on carbs don’t add any calorie restrictions to their diets, they still end up losing more weight than people on low-fat diets who also restrict their daily calorie intake.
The lesson? Cut down on carbs, and eat as much as you want!
Another bonus of low-carb diets is that you’re likely to see instant weight loss results.
That’s because cutting out carbs helps to immediately shed excess water weight, which lowers the number you see on the scale within just a few days.
Low-carb diets also won’t make you lose just any kind of fat. They’ve been found to be especially effective at reducing belly fat, as well as other kinds of bad fat that can be harmful to your health.
What’s the best way to cut carbs? Simply say no to products like bread and pasta. This should make you shed pounds instantly, especially if you’re replacing all those carb calories with protein.
If you need to speed up your weigh loss process, drop your carb intake to around fifty grams a day. This amount has been shown to kill your appetite and force your body to start burning fat.
Low-carb diets are good for your health in other ways as well, so read up on different kinds to find one that’s right for you. You can do Paleo, go gluten-free, or opt for the Atkins diet.
Lowering your carb intake is good for your health, and works wonders for people who want to shed pounds and get rid of their pot bellies.
Fourth, get enough fiber
There is a general consensus that fiber, which is mostly made of plant matter your body can’t digest, is great for weight loss.
Why? Because it’s not digestible, fiber forms a gel that lines the inside of your stomach and slows down digestive processes.
The result is that you won’t feel the need to eat for a long time after consuming your last meal, and won’t get hungry as often.
But before you run out to the store, it’s important to keep in mind that not all kinds of fiber are equally good for you.
For best results, you need viscous soluble fibers.
These can be found in plant-based foods: veggies like sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, for example.
If you need concrete motivation to include more fiber in your diet, consider this: eating just ten grams of soluble fiber every day helps shrink belly fat by almost four percent over a five-year period.
And if you up your intake to 14 grams, you’ll decrease your total calorie intake by about 10% and drop over four pounds over the course of four months.
Pretty neat, right?
If you can’t bring yourself to scarf down enough veggies to hit your daily fiber goals, you can always try a supplement. Something like glucomannan, a fiber extracted from the konjac root, will work just fine.
Fifth, exercise, exercise, exercise
Exercise has a ton of benefits, and is the one of the best ways to stay healthy and live long.
Among other things, exercise is an effective way to kill belly fat.
You might be thinking that crunches are the best way to target the abdomen, but studies have shown that 6 weeks of training abdominal muscles have no measurable effect on waistlines.
Losing fat in just one spot is not possible, so doing endless situps just won’t cut it.
Other kinds of exercise, on the other hand, can work wonders.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that cardio workouts like walking, running, and swimming are especially effective in trimming waistlines.
Moreover, cardio has been shown to help people keep weight off after a diet. It also alleviates inflammation, balances blood sugar levels, and regulates all other metabolic issues that are typically linked with belly fat.
Basically, exercise is key if you want to curb those curves. Plus, it’s generally good for your body.
Sixth, track your diet
Everybody knows that you are what you eat.
Unfortunately, most people don’t actually know that much about what they’re consuming.
That’s why self-tracking should be an important part of any weight loss program
So if you really want to change your diet, tracking what you consume is an absolute must.
If this sounds exhausting, don’t worry! There is no reason to drag a scale around and measure everything you eat for the rest of your life. But keeping a journal and writing down what you’re eating for several days or a couple of weeks can be a real eye-opener.
If you want to make sure that about a quarter of your calories come from protein, just loading up on protein probably won’t get you there. You need to keep track of what you’re eating and tally it all up at the end of the day.
That way, you’ll gradually figure out what your nutrition goals feel like.
Sound complicated? There are a ton of free online calorie counters and apps that can help you out!
I’m a big fan of self-tracking and log everything I munch on for a few days several times a year. I measure and write down everything I eat to get a realistic snapshot of my diet.
This way, I’m more in touch with my body and know what I need to change about my eating habits.