Almost everyone would like to lose a few inches around their waist. Many people, however, want to lose weight fast. Crash diets and quick fixes seldom work, at least not permanently. It’s also a popular misconception that having plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction or a tummy tuck will keep excess belly fat off for good. While there are no quick fixes, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that can help flatten the spare tire around your waist. The following are 8 habits you’ll want to eliminate from your routine to improve overall health, maintain weight loss, and lose the belly fat.
Lack of Exercise
While it’s possible to lose belly fat without exercise, it is a lot more difficult, especially if you want to keep it off for good. Having strong, lean muscle helps the body burn fat and calories more efficiently. If you lose weight without exercising you’ll actually risk losing this lean body tissue which will ultimately slow your metabolism. Exercise should be done at a moderate level to achieve results. A moderate level means you can carry on a conversation while still breaking a sweat. This type of exercise should be carried out 3 to 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes each time for best results. Specific exercises that may help target the abdominal area include machines that have moving handles to hold onto such as an elliptical machine. Lunge twists and old fashion crunches also target the stomach area. Just doing this alone, however, isn’t enough. You’ll need to incorporate a good cardio routine to keep your metabolism up and for overall health benefits.
Too Much Sugar
There is a strong connection between sugar consumption, insulin resistance, and the increase of belly fat. Since high blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance it’s important to limit too much sugar in the diet. A 12 ounce soda may only have 140 calories but approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar. Cutting back on soda and processed foods high in sugar is a good start when it comes to losing weight around your middle section. Drink plenty of water and eat foods that are naturally sweet like fruit. Try to eliminate fruit juices, however, since many of these are high in sugar and often have fewer nutrients than the natural fruit. If possible, get rid of your bowl of table sugar. Many foods have sugar naturally, making it unnecessary to put added sugar in our diets. Just cutting out sodas and replacing them with a glass of water could potentially add up to weight loss over the course of several months. Any serious weight loss plan should include cutting back on sugar intake.
Eating too Much Dessert
Most desserts contain high amounts of sugar and fat, which of course easily adds pounds. Filling up with healthy carbs, proteins, and veggies will eliminate our cravings for dessert. If, however, you have to have something sweet after a meal there are lots of healthy alternatives. Yogurt with fruit and low fat jello with a small amount of whipped cream are both good choices. Indulging in chocolate cake or double crust apple pie every now and then is acceptable as long as the calories are cut somewhere else or a little extra exercise is incorporated into your daily workout routine. Also, when selecting desserts find out how much sugar verses fat is in the item. Even if the dessert is fat free but high in sugar, you’ll still gain weight. It may take some effort to find them, but there are delicious desserts that can be made or bought that have a good balance of fat, sugar, and other nutrients — and still taste good.
Drinking too Much Beer
It’s not surprising that the term “beer gut” is used to describe gaining too much weight from drinking a lot of this particular alcoholic beverage. While not all beer bellies are the result of beer, an individual can definitely gain excess weight by consuming too many beers. One reason is that beer is pretty much empty calories. Another reason beer can cause weight gain is that when the liver is processing alcohol it’s not burning fat. Drinking alcohol can also stimulate the appetite, causing you to ingest even more calories. If you’re going to drink it’s best to stick with wine, which has been shown to have some health benefits when drank in moderation and generally has fewer calories than a glass of beer. If you can’t imagine not enjoying a cold brew, try some of the many great tasting light beers. Sometimes having a small glass of water between drinks can limit how many alcoholic beverages you consume.
Eating When Stressed
Eating when stressed can cause several problems when it comes to belly fat. For starters, we often eat more when we’re stressed and quickly lose track of just how much food we’ve stuffed in our mouths. But there is more to it than that. While it’s true that calories matter, hormones and stress can determine in part where those calories are stored in the body. This is especially true for women. Being stressed can cause the hormone cortisol to increase which in turn increases belly fat, Not only that, but it can make each fat cell get larger. Ways to beat stress eating include cleaning out your kitchen and cabinets of all the specific items you tend to reach for after having a difficult day. Make a list of fun hobbies or activities that you can distract yourself with when you feel like indulging in doughnuts and pizza. Exercise, even a brisk walk, can naturally help reduce stress and will help you burn a few extra calories while you’re at it.
After going to sleep our bodies generally tend to slow down all biological systems. When you eat late your digestive system simply won’t process all the food in the same efficient manner it would have several hours earlier. It’s generally recommended to stop eating at least two hours before going to bed. Before going to bed you shouldn’t feel really hungry but you shouldn’t be completely full either. The best place to be is somewhere in the middle. Going to bed feeling just slightly hungry is the goal you should reach for. Eating later at night can set you up for bad eating habits the next day as well. If you eat a large meal in the evening you might not be hungry for breakfast when you get up the next morning. Skipping breakfast can cause you to overeat throughout the rest of the day. Ways to stop the late night binging include eating more fiber and protein during dinner. It’s also a good idea to have a glass of water on the bed stand at night. Sometimes we are simply thirsty when we get that urge to eat.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep each night can cause more problems than simply leaving a person tired and groggy the following day. This is one of the many weight loss tips that a lot of people may not be aware of. Our bodies increase the hormone known as cortisol when we don’t get enough sleep. A high cortisol level can increase appetite which makes it easier for us to overeat the day after we have been sleep deprived. This process is similar to what happens when we eat because of stress. Pounds get put on in the abdominal area more easily than other parts of the body. So a lack of sleep is not only a public health problem because of driving when sleep-deprived, but because piling on extra weight in the stomach area is more unhealthy than in most other parts of the body. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to good health in many ways. Not watching television in the bedroom and creating a regular sleep routine are two simple but often effective ways to get a better night’s sleep.
Not Eating Enough Protein
Most popular diet plans available today include eating lots of lean protein. Protein helps balance blood sugar levels while keeping our metabolism up. Protein will also keep you full longer, reducing the amount you’ll eat over the course of the day. Eating two hard boiled eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel can keep you feeling full much longer throughout the day. Many nutritional experts agree that adding protein to the diet may be the single most important step for losing fat. While there may be some disagreement over exactly what kind of protein to include, for general good health as well as shaving pounds off your belly, it’s best to stick with lean, healthy protein. This can include different types of fish, chicken breast, turkey, and even eggs. If you don’t want to eat too much meat, protein can also be found in cottage cheese, quinoa, and a variety of nuts and beans. Even some veggies, such as peas and spinach have protein. If possible, try to eat at least some protein with every meal.