Surprise, surprise: It’s not just you—everyone has belly fat. Even those people who claim to have fat abs do have some belly fat. So no need to fret if you have belly fat. That is perfectly normal. However, it becomes problematic when you have too much belly fat. Having too much of it can adversely affect your health. If you have too much belly fat, there are higher chances for you to get heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancers, such as colon cancer and breast cancer.
If you have substantial excess fat around the waistline, you should consider taking some measures getting rid of it. Usually, belly fat is estimated by checking out the circumference around the waist. This method can easily be done even at home with just a simple tape measure. Anything over 40 inches (about 102 centimeters) in men and about 35 inches (or 88 centimeters) in women, is regarded as abdominal obesity.
If you find you do have more belly fat then you’d like then here are four diets that offer different ways of trimming down the fat in belly area naturally.
1. Less sugary diet
One diet you can try is to avoid putting too much sugar in your diet. As much as possible, avoid consuming sugar and sugar-sweetened food or drinks. Added sugar in your diet is considered extremely unhealthy. You can read more about how fructose affects your health in this article from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Advantage: Excessive sugar is bad for you
- Studies have shown that sugar, especially if consumed excessively, can pose negative effects on your metabolic health. Excess sugar may lead to increased accumulation of body fat.
- Studies also show that those sugar-sweetened beverages (say sodas) are linked to about a 60-percent higher chance of obesity among children per serving each day.
- Make a strong decision to reduce the amount of sugar you eat in your diet. Consider removing sugary drinks from your diet completely.
- Check the nutrition labels that can tell you the amount of sugar a food has. If the total sugar content of an item is over 22.5 grams per 100 grams, it is considered high in sugar. Anything below 5 grams of total sugar per 100 grams is considered low.
Reducing your sugar intake does not necessarily have to mean you are going cold turkey. There are a number of small changes one can make, which can add up and make a difference over a day.
- Many breakfast cereals for example are high in sugar, with a number of them containing up to as high as 37 percent in sugar. Try going for lower sugar cereals or others with no added sugar, including plain porridge, plain shredded whole grain pillows, or plain whole wheat cereal biscuits.
- If you are adding sugar to your cereal, then you could try adding less. Alternatively, you could consume a smaller portion and maybe add some chopped fruit like banana or pear.
- When dining out, do not go with dishes that are regularly high in sugar, including sweet and sour dishes, or salads with dressings that can be high in sugar.
- Healthier snack options include fruit (dried, fresh, tinned or frozen), unsalted rice cakes, unsalted nuts, homemade plain popcorn, or oatcakes.
- If you are taking sugar in tea or coffee, reduce the amount in these drinks until you can cut the sugar out altogether or swap to sweeteners instead.
Disadvantage: Too many restrictions
Arguably, many people are finding it very hard to follow a less sugary diet because that would mean cutting down on a lot of food choices in their diet. Sodas for example have to be taken out completely, or at least radically reduced. With this diet, you should also cut down on sugar-based foods. A lot of dieters, except probably for the more strong-willed and determined ones, thus find the diet hard to follow.
2. More protein-based diet
An alternative to the less-sugar based diet (although why not do both?) is to eat more protein. Protein can be a good long-term approach to reducing belly fat naturally.
Advantage: Proteins are good for you
Proteins are considered by many health experts as the most important macronutrients to reducing weight. According to studies, protein can minimize cravings by as much as 60 percent, drive metabolism by as much as 80-100 calories every day, and enable you to eat up to about 441 fewer calories each day.
If weight reduction is your plan, then including protein to the diet is probably the single most effective diet modification you can do.
Disadvantage: Too much protein may result in fat
Too much protein, ironically—at least too much for your body needs—will result in you being overweight. The body will convert excessive protein to sugar and then fat. Here’s an interesting article on the risks of consuming too much protein.
3. Less carbohydrates in your diet
Carb restriction is another effective way of losing fat.
Advantage: Excessive carbohydrates are bad for you
This is evidenced by a lot of studies, for example this research on the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms. When people cut down on carbs in the diet, their appetite also goes down and soon, they lose weight.
Low-carb diets also result in quick decreases in water weight, giving people quick results. In fact, a major difference on the weight is usually seen even within a few days.
There are also research studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, which show that low-carb diets particularly target the fat in your belly, as well as around your organs and liver.
You can start by avoiding the refined carbs (such as white breads and pastas), especially if you are following the other diet of keeping your protein high. But if you really need to lose weight quickly, then consider minimizing your carbs to just 50 grams per day.
Disadvantage: Low-carb diets have side effects
Although reducing carbohydrates can help you with weight loss, doing so however can also cause some side effects. The most common negative side effects of low-carb diet would be headache and constipation. Other side effects include diarrhea, muscle weakness, bad breath, and rashes.
There are studies saying that low carbohydrate diets may result in temporary memory problems.
4. Go for a fiber-rich diet
Eating a lot of fiber, especially viscous fibers, can help you with weight loss. Eat plant foods such as vegetables and fruit. Another good source would be legumes. Some cereals such as oats are good too.
Advantage: Fiber-Rich Foods May Lower Your Excessive Fat
There is evidence that soluble dietary fiber may actually lead to lower amounts of belly fat.
Fiber can not only reduce cholesterol, but also reduce your blood sugar. In addition, it may also even prevent you from having colon cancer and hemorrhoids. If fiber were a drug, the whole world would be getting it.
But just a few are getting enough of fiber in their diet. Women should have about 25 grams per day and men should have at least 35 to 40. However, the average person gets only about 15 grams a day.
Disadvantage: Fiber-rich diet has some side effects
The most common side effects of eating too much fiber include bloating, abdominal cramps, flatulence, but as your stomatch gets used to the fiber increase in your diet, the symptoms should subside.
Now, which among these four very healthy diets is the best for you? The quick answer is: it depends on your preferences, commitment, and physical health. You can consult a medical expert or nutritionist to see which among these four diets would suit you best.