Summertime is the season for all things outdoors. For many of us, the warmer months mean donning sleeveless shirts, shorts, and bathing suits. It’s also the time of year when people worry the most about their appearance, or more importantly, losing that stubborn fat that clings to your waistline and reminds you of all of the culinary indulgences you enjoyed over the winter. While there are countless miracle pills and quick fixes available out there, most of them either don’t work or carry incredible health risks.
Here are some quick tips to lose unwanted belly fat that actually work and won’t damage your health in the process.
1) Get Enough Sleep
This isn’t just great advice for shedding unwanted pounds around the midsection. The health benefits of getting adequate rest are well-documented and can help you lose weight from several different angles. Sure, it’s easy to make excuses as to why you don’t have time for the prescribed eight hours of sleep or why you don’t really need it, but please read on!
Needless to say, not getting enough rest leaves you feeling exhausted and hinders physical performance. What you may not realize is that nervous function, hormone production, and metabolism are also crippled due to lack of quality sleep. If your nervous system can’t function at full capacity, you’re far more likely to work slower, stress more, exercise less, and eat things that you shouldn’t because you’re in a hurry. Furthermore, inadequate rest can impair the production of key hormones responsible for the metabolism of fat cells.
Remember that one complete sleep cycle for adult humans can range from 90 – 110 minutes and ideally you want to get in 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep – about five complete cycles. This will help your brain and body to function at peak performance and to burn away stubborn belly fat much more efficiently.
2) Sneak in Some Exercise
While not everyone has time to spend two hours at the gym every day, it is still possible to get enough daily activity to help your body burn off unwanted belly fat. Try to fit in three five minute sets of vigorous exercise per day, five days out of the week. Some great examples of workouts that will get your heart pumping and help you lose belly fat include:
Run in place for five minutes.
Jog around your office / parking lot.
Jump rope or do jumping jacks.
Do a few sets of chair squats.
Get up and dance to a favorite song.
If conditions prevent you from performing cardiovascular activities, try to clock at least thirty minutes of lighter exercises, five days per week. Some great examples of low-impact workouts to help you lose belly fat include:
Fast walking – Go to a local park or walk around your neighborhood. This activity is even better when shared with a friend or beloved pet.
Swimming – If you have a local swimming pool or lake nearby, this is a great way to lose belly fat fast.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) activities – can help you burn calories while you work.
As always, if you have any medical conditions that may be exacerbated by vigorous exercise, be sure to consult with your physician before you start any workout plan.
Also remember that spot exercises like sit-ups won’t reduce your belly fat and can actually make it more apparent by increasing the volume of the lean muscle underneath. No matter which muscle group is being activated by your chosen activity, your body will burn fat from all parts of your body, including your waistline!
3) Boost Your Metabolism
A higher metabolism means you’ll burn more calories during your day-to-day activities whatever they may be.
4) Eat the Right Foods
Depending on who you ask, the lineup of foods that can magically burn away unwanted weight is a long one. However, many of the items included on that list are questionable at best. Here is a guide to some foods that really will help you to shed belly fat when included as part of a balanced, healthy diet:
Chia Seeds. One of the most potent sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein per ounce found in the natural world, Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat to help your body burn belly fat. Because they have almost no flavor, you can add Chia seeds to just about anything.
Dark Leafy Greens. Full of fiber, iron, and zinc – dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens can help to turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
Lean Meat. Not only do they help you to build calorie-burning muscle mass, meats like chicken or turkey breast, fish, buffalo, and other wild game actually require our bodies to work harder in order to break them down during digestion. Furthermore, lean protein sources are much less likely to be stored as fat in our bodies and far more likely to be converted into energy for immediate use.
Cayenne Pepper. If you aim to lose a lot of belly fat, cayenne pepper can help! Capsaicin – the bio-chemical that makes these little red peppers hot – increases blood flow to the stomach which improves digestion and nutrient absorption. Effectively, you’ll feel full from eating less, have more energy, and burn belly fat faster.
5) Fat-burning Beverages
As with the roster of fat-burning foods, there are countless cocktails (and some of them are downright nasty!) which are purported to burn belly fat. Here is a short list of the best ones for the job:
Matcha Green Tea. The highest quality of any green tea, Matcha is one of the most powerful beverages for melting away belly fat and improving your overall health.
Ginger Tea. Well-known for its ability to improve digestion, ginger root also increases thermogenesis in the human body. Enjoy a cup of fresh ginger tea as part of your daily routine to burn off belly fat faster!
Water. Staying hydrated is crucial to the fat-burning process. Your body needs water to break down fat cells and wash away the toxins that are released during this process.
Fruit Juices. While they won’t necessarily help with the fat burning process itself, juices may indirectly benefit your weight-loss efforts. Replace any soft drinks or other processed, sugary beverages with 100% natural, no-sugar-added juices. Vegetable, cranberry, pomegranate, and acai are some great choices that also offer a variety of auxiliary health benefits. Just remember to watch your calorie intake!
6) Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
It’s a well-known fact that simple carbohydrates like white sugar and the corn syrup found in many commercial soft drinks is a leading cause of weight-gain, particularly around the midsection. However, less known is the fact that many sugar substitutes contain chemicals that – when ingested – are stored in and preserve your fat cells (as well as a long list of other health detriments!) For an all-natural alternative to sugar, try adding Stevia to your food. This leaf extract has virtually no calories and is free of harmful chemicals found in most sugar substitutes. While refined Stevia is widely available in most grocery stores, whole leaf offers more health benefits!
7) Eat Healthy Fats
Our bodies need essential fatty-acids (EFAs) to properly synthesize the hormones responsible for metabolizing fat stores. Try some of these sources of EFAs to help you burn belly fat faster:
Coconut Oil. The medium chain triglyceride, Lauric acid found in coconut oil helps to increase energy, improve cholesterol, and burn fat.
Cold-water Fish. Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are the most well-known fish recognized for their high-concentrations of healthy fatty acids that help burn belly fat.
Nuts and Seeds. Walnuts, soybeans, flaxseeds, and almonds are four of the best choices to help melt away stubborn belly fat. Just remember that nuts are also very high in calories. Be sure to limit yourself to the recommended serving size – usually a small handful – of these foods so you can reap the health benefits without accidentally sabotaging your weight-loss efforts.
Stress causes our bodies to pump out a hormone called cortisol which causes us to build and retain belly fat. If you’ve tried every health food, trick, cheat, and exercise under the sun but you just can’t seem to lose the weight around your waist, relax. It may be the stress itself that is to blame. Instead of worrying about your weight, set aside some time each day to do something you love. Think about what makes you happy and find a way to include that in your daily routine.
9) Plan Ahead
If you lead a very busy life, it can be very difficult to include healthy, fat-burning foods as part of your daily diet. Try to form a battleplan on your days off that includes a healthy breakfast, high-protein snacks, and balanced meals. Ideally, you want to eat something about every three hours to keep your metabolism going strong. Also, remember to schedule that all-important decompression and sleep time at the end of the day to help your body recoup and burn that belly fat!