Belly fat is more than just unsightly, it can be seriously harmful to your health.
Among other health complications, belly fat can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Even if you otherwise appear thin, excess belly fat–which is also called visceral fat–can be a leading indicator of future illnesses.
As you may have experienced yourself, losing abdominal fat can be very difficult. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to lose belly fat that don’t have to affect your daily life too dramatically.
Here are 5 ways to lose belly fat that have been shown to work over time:
1. Get More Quality Sleep
Giving the body a lot of rest means muscles have ample time to regenerate. According to research, people who do not sleep enough are at risk of gaining weight–which includes belly fat. Sleep apnea, the condition that causes breathing to stop during sleep, has been linked to excess visceral fat. This condition can easily affect the quality of your sleep. If you aren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, you’re likely not getting enough
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2. Reduce Your Stress Levels With Daily Aerobic (Cardio Vascular) Exercise
Stress triggers the steroid called cortisol which decreases metabolism. People tend to eat a lot more as a way of coping with stress. Make time to exercise each day even if it’s walking around the block. Aerobic exercise lasting 20 minutes or more is ideal but any amount of exercise can be enough to reduce stress and take your mind off what might lead you to overeat. One study by the National Institutes of Health found that postmenopausal women who increased their exercise from 20 to 40 minutes per day lost more fat.
3. Don’t Drink Sugary Sodas or Fruit Juices
If you’re drinking a lot of sugar-sweetened sodas and fruit juices, you may be drinking the majority of your calories each day. Just one or two sugary drinks a day can ruin your diet plans. By substituting sugary drinks with alternatives, you’ll see and feel the benefits. Try water with lemon, green tea and/or try diet soda alternatives to your favorite soft drinks.
4. Eat Lots of Soluble Fiber
Eating fiber helps you lose weight by making you feel full so you naturally eat less. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive system and forms a gel that makes it easier for food to pass through your system. Try eating more high fiber foods each day like blackberries, lentils, pears, peas, almonds, broccoli, edamame and oranges. Popcorn is a source of fiber–just watch the butter.
5. Reduce Your Carb Intake
Reducing your carb intake can help in losing belly fat and help reduce your overall weight. Refined carbs in particular can sabotage any dieter who wants to lose weight. Refined carbs include white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice and many breakfast cereals.
Eating refined carbs fills your bloodstream with sugar which increases insulin to clear the sugar from your blood. This can quickly leave you feeling hungry again and cause you to overeat.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Talkaboutwellbeing.com