In a world that’s achieved smart homes, smartphones, and cars that can drive themselves, can someone please develop a weight loss button to push for instant facilitation? Hold onto that button, because Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a member of our Medical Expert Board, reveals five ways to melt your belly bulge on autopilot.
Excess belly fat is like a guest you invited over for dinner one too many times who had so much fun, they just would not leave. (You know exactly who we’re talking about!) Not only is that extra weight on your gut frustrating to see, but it’s also extremely unhealthy. In fact, belly fat is more harmful to have than fat on other parts of your body, according to research performed by UT Southwestern.
Dr. Bohl explains it this way. When most individuals think about fat on the body, it’s subcutaneous fat, which is directly underneath your skin. This includes the fat you can pinch on your legs, buttocks, and arms. Dr. Bohl says extra subcutaneous body fat is typically linked to a torso that’s “pear-shaped.”
Visceral fat, however, refers to your “belly fat.” It’s located deep inside your abdomen surrounding your organs. Extra visceral fat is connected to having a body that’s “apple-shaped.” Dr. Bohl states, “Visceral fat is more detrimental to your health and is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.”
If you have belly fat you’re ready to burn, let’s get started with these five super-simple everyday habits you can incorporate into your routine. They’re extremely effective in helping you melt your unwanted belly bulge.
First off, it’s important to know that you can’t exercise to lose weight in any one specific part of the body. “Spot reduction,” unfortunately, is a myth. For instance, your arm routine will not result in you losing fat on your arms. A ton of crunches will strengthen your ab muscles, but they won’t get rid of your belly. The good news? Whatever workout you do will help you to burn calories and lose body weight all over.
Dr. Bohl says, “When it comes to exercising to get rid of a belly bulge, pick whatever exercises you’re most likely to stick with in the long run. Aerobic exercises burn calories and can be good for fitting in any time of the day (for example, you can go for a brisk walk during a break at work or after eating dinner). Resistance training also burns calories both while you’re lifting weights as well as long term, because the larger your muscles are, the more calories they burn throughout the day as part of their normal metabolic processes.”
In order to melt your belly bulge on autopilot, protein is your new BFF. Various studies have revealed that consuming a diet high in protein is connected to lower abdominal fat. Generally, in order to see the scale drop, it’s essential to include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. But based on the studies, Dr. Bohl adds, “Adding in quality sources of protein is also important and can be beneficial. If you can, opt for lean proteins, like fish and chicken. Or—better yet—choose plant-based complete proteins, like quinoa and soy.”
One major secret source of extra calories you may not even think about is alcohol. Mixed drinks have many additional calories, from the alcohol to the sugary add-ins.
“Research suggests that alcohol intake is associated with central weight gain, or weight gain in the belly. So, to give yourself the best chance of losing the belly bulge, limit your alcohol consumption,” Dr. Bohl says.
Cortisol is the stress hormone linked with gaining weight, Dr. Bohl explains. Therefore, managing your levels of stress is a great way to help avoid a bulging belly.
Dr. Bohl suggests, “If you’re looking for something to fit easily into your routine, you can try meditating or deep breathing exercises at least once a day. Having a regular sleep cycle and getting enough sleep each night can also help manage stress levels. If you have chronic anxiety, though, it’s important to be properly evaluated by a healthcare provider.”
Plain and simple, if you want to lose weight, you have to burn a higher number of calories than you eat. Sadly, your excess belly fat isn’t going anywhere anytime soon if you don’t diet. One simple way to decide on a diet—and maintain it—is by planning your meals.
Dr. Bohl explains, “If you pre-plan (or even pre-make) all of your meals at the beginning of the week, it’s easier to stay on track without needing to think about it every day. You can even pre-plan what your snacks will be in case you do get breakthrough hunger. For example, you can keep low-calorie items like baby carrots or celery in the refrigerator for between-meal snacks.”