The prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased significantly over the last two decades. In the year 2000, the estimated prevalence of excessive fat accumulation in the abdominal region among the American population was 45.9%. Recent statistics estimated the epidemiology to have risen to 58.9% in 2016 (1). This is alarming, due to the multiple health hazards that the condition imposes on a person.
Even though a large number of people are constantly on a diet, many fail to achieve successful results, especially when it comes to reducing excess fat in the belly. Understanding the risks and how to implement a more effective strategy to target abdominal obesity is crucial for individuals who have gained excess pounds, especially in the belly region, as this can greatly reduce their risk of developing the diseases associated with the condition.
Research has found that some foods are good for targeting belly fat in particular, and that is what we will be looking at in this post. We will also explore the potential dangers associated with belly fat and look at some strategies that can assist in effectively reducing abdominal obesity and improve a person’s overall health.
The Hidden Dangers Of Excess Belly Fat
Many studies have looked at how excessive fat in the abdominal region of the human body affects health. These studies have confirmed that a number of potential dangers lie within this fat. The primary reason why belly fat is considered so harmful is that this type of fat, referred to as visceral fat, is known to release toxins in the body, which imposes a large number of health-related risks.
One study (2) looked at how belly fat in particular affected cardiovascular risk factors in a total of 1,106 participants. The scientists behind the study found that a number of these risk factors are worsened as belly fat increases. In particular, the following risk factors were of concern to the scientists involved in the study:
- There was an increase in the prevalence of hypertension among those participants with higher amounts of abdominal fat.
- The risk of metabolic syndrome increased significantly with the presence of belly fat.
- A risk of hypertriglyceridemia was also noted among participants with excess belly fat, a condition where triglyceride levels in the body become elevated.
The conclusion of the study is that higher amounts of fat accumulating in the belly can lead to a number of health concerns. The cardiovascular disease seems to be a particular risk for those with belly fat. Hypertension is known to cause damage to the patient’s blood vessels and can impose additional complications. There also seems to be a significantly higher risk for conditions like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, due to the fact that metabolic syndrome has been linked to belly fat.
Another study (3) evaluated the effects of abdominal obesity among college students on blood pressure. They found that an increase in belly fat may significantly increase the risk of hypertension, even in the younger population, raising further concern for people to address abdominal fat early in order to prevent the development of such medical conditions.
Studies have also linked abdominal obesity to a significant increase in the risk of developing certain types of cancers. One particular study (4), conducted on a group of participants from South Asia, found that women are much more likely to develop breast cancer if they have excess fat in their belly. The study concluded that all women, whether or not they have already gone through menopause, are at a higher risk of this particular cancer when abdominal obesity is an issue.
One particularly concerning issue regarding belly fat, is the fact that it can sometimes be hidden. There are some people who may appear to be relatively lean at even possibly at a healthy weight, yet they have visceral fat in their abdominal area that surrounds important organs, such as their stomach and their intestines. This is why measuring body fat percentage is crucial and to understand potential signs that excess belly fat may be present.
How Can Belly Fat Be Reduced More Effectively?
There are strategies that can be used to assist in reducing the amount of fat that a person has in their abdominal area. It should be noted, however, that many of the traditional diet programs out there and even a large number of exercise programs will not directly target belly fat. Sure, excess belly fat may be reduced through these strategies, but there are some techniques that hold much greater potential for specifically burning fat in the abdomen.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is certainly the first step to be taken by a person who wishes to burn off excess belly fat – this will not only help to target visceral fat but can also reduce fat in other parts of their body. In turn, improvements in the person’s body composition will be experienced, their risk factors for many diseases would be significantly reduced, and they will essentially experience a boost in their confidence and body image.
The two most important areas that need to be targeted in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle include both diet and exercise routines.
First, a person would have to look at their existing diet – they need to realize what they are currently doing that is causing them to gain such excessive amounts of fat in their belly area. There are many foods that will then be eliminated from their diet, and healthy foods will essentially be included in their diet. A balanced diet that consists of plant-based foods is known to assist in reducing belly fat and overall obesity, for example, but this does not mean meat needs to be excluded completely. Thus, a good balance is required.
Exercises that a person participates in should also help to target the abdominal area. Not all exercises are known to burn excess fat in this particular area effectively; thus some initial research may be required for a person to set up a good workout program that would help them burn more fat from their belly region. At the same time, they also want to ensure fat in other areas of their body can be targeted.
In one study (5), scientists recruited a group of 24 participants in order to determine how effective abdominal exercises are when it comes to targeting abdominal fat. The participants were aged from 18 to 40. A total of 14 were men, and the remaining 10 participants were women.
The participants were divided into two random groups. The first was a control group and the second group were provided instructions on performing abdominal exercises. The study was conducted over a six-week period, and participants had to perform the exercises they were introduced to five days of each week.
The study found a much more significant reduction in belly fat amongst the group that performed the abdominal exercises when the data was compared to the control group, who did not perform exercises that specifically focused on their abdomen. There were other advantages noted in the study as well. Participants who performed the abdominal exercises experienced a more significant improvement in their muscular endurance as well.
10 Top Foods That Can Help To Burn Excess Belly Fat
While a healthy and balanced diet is known to provide a way to reduce weight and live a healthier life, people often find it difficult to understand the specific foods they should include in such a diet. Some foods are known to assist in improving energy levels or perhaps muscle growth, while others may be more useful for reaching goals like burning excess fat in the body.
Several research studies have been conducted to help scientists better understand how people should ideally eat if they are looking to target belly fat in particular. It has been found that certain types of food are certainly better at helping a person reduce their abdominal obesity and experience the vast range of health benefits that come with reaching such a particular goal.
Here, we are going to take a look at some of the best foods that a person can include in their diet if they are looking to burn excess fat in their belly. These foods are healthy and can often be added to a variety of dishes.
1. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are not only good for your health but may hold many benefits for your abdomen as well, especially if you have excess belly fat. This vegetable is high in viscous fiber, a type of fiber that turns to a gel-like substance. This helps the digestive system and also gives you a feeling of fullness that lasts longer compared to eating foods that are not high in this type of fiber (6).
Avocados are not only delicious and very versatile, but they also have a lot of potential health benefits. The fats in avocados can be especially good for people with excess fat that have accumulated in their belly. The fat helps to reduce the risk of sugar spikes in the bloodstream, reducing the risk of excess fat being stored in the abdomen region.
Bananas are known to be one of the best sources for increasing the intake of potassium. While often associated with reductions in muscle cramps, potassium can also help to reduce sodium levels in the body. This, in turn, can help to reduce swelling around the belly.
4. Red Peppers
Red peppers, along with citrus fruit such as oranges, are known to be very high in Vitamin C. In turn, this particular vitamin may assist in increasing the amount of fat that is burnt through exercise. Some studies have noted that fat reduction may be enhanced by as much as 30% with a higher intake of vitamin C.
5. Whole Grains
Those people who are following a diet that does not significantly restrict carbohydrates should enjoy more whole grains in their diet. This may include brown rice, bulgar, and oatmeal, among others. The fiber in whole grains can help to improve digestive health and also help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which will be useful for reducing fat accumulation in the belly. Furthermore, the fiber will help a person feel full for longer after each meal, reducing the chances of binge snacking.
6. Leafy greens
There is a variety of leafy greens that you can choose from, starting with lettuce, kale, and spinach, to prepare yourself a fresh, delicious salad that will help you to eat healthier. Of all these, spinach would be the best option. You can use it to prepare a fresh salad along with your chicken for lunch, or add it to your omelet for breakfast. By adding leafy greens to your diet, you will be adding multiple nutrients and very few calories. The popular leafy greens choices all contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, of all which the most famous one would be calcium which has been scientifically proven to be able to increase the number of burned fats on a daily level (7).
Salmon is a fatty fish filled with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for numerous body functions. Salmon also contains high amounts of clean proteins which will help you satisfy your protein requirements on a daily level while satisfying your hunger without introducing too many calories at the same time. Smoked salmon might be one of the best weight loss foods that you can use as a lunch or dinner. And if you are not interested in eating salmon, then think about some of the other great Omega 3 fatty acids sources such as tuna, catfish, sardines, herring and many others.
Potatoes are known to contain numerous nutrients among which are Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium, or should we say a little bit of everything that your body needs to remain in the perfect, healthy condition. On what is called the Satiety Index, potatoes score the highest as compared with all of the other foods which have been tested. What this tells us, is that potatoes are the most filling food of them all. They contain too little calories, and yet they let you feel full and away from eating any empty calories in the next few hours. However, please remember to consume them either baked or boiled. Frying the potatoes will not help anyone when you are trying to lose weight.
If you are looking for a great snack replacement for your usual choices of chips and candy, nuts would be one of the best options out there. Nuts are incredibly nutritious as they are filled with high levels of potassium, iron, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and calcium, and not to mention their high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, there have been quite a few scientific studies which have proved that eating nuts on a daily basis can improve metabolic health, and even promote weight loss (8).
Mushrooms are both delicious and healthy, plus they are packed with high levels of Vitamin D. Why are we telling you this, you ask? It is because according to a study published in the Nutritional Journal in 2008, low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to an increased presence of belly fat (9). You see where we are getting with this, right? By introducing more mushrooms, and other natural sources of Vitamin D, you are fighting the low levels of Vitamin D and fighting the increased risk of abdominal fat at the same time!
Belly fat holds many dangers and is often considered a more dangerous type of fat to harbor in the body that other kinds of fat. A lot of people find it hard to shed belly fat effectively, often due to the fact that they are not implementing strategies that are specifically targeting fat that has accumulated in their abdomen. With the right strategies, along with a few food options included in a diet, it becomes much easier to shed those extra pounds and live a healthier life.