Photo of woman's waistline and measuring tape.

By Doc Willie Ong

Having belly fat is not only frustrating, it is also unhealthy. This type of fat is called visceral fat, which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. It is difficult to remove this fat, but there are tips you can follow to lose the extra pounds in your belly.

Avoid fatty foods, sugary foods and sugary drinks.

I’ve lumped all these difficult tips into one. This could the root cause of your increasing waistline. Processed foods with their trans fats are associated with inflammation, diabetes and heart disease. These include cakes, donuts, pastries, French fries, margarine and fried foods. Another major problem is sugary drinks like soft drinks, iced tea and even fruit juices which is loaded in calories. Although fruit juice has some vitamins and minerals, it’s very high in sugar. Try lemon water or just drink plain water.

Don’t drink too much alcohol.

You have heard of “beer belly.” Excess alcohol can add to the fatty tissues around your waist. Aside from the calories you gain from alcoholic drinks, consider the foods you eat with beer, like pizza, chips and oily foods. Moreover, studies show that too much alcohol can interfere with your body’s ability to burn fat.

Drink enough water.

A healthy adult can drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. This will keep you hydrated and is good for your health. Drinking water before a meal also makes you feel fuller and helps reduce your food intake. Water can boost your metabolism and it has zero calories.

Increase your vegetable intake.

Vegetables are excellent diet foods because they are low in calories and makes you feel full.

Experts recommend having half of your plate served with vegetables. Try green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale. Some fruits like apple, pears and bananas are relatively low in calories and make good snacks.

Eat more protein.

Lean sources of protein can help you lose weight. Avoid red meat, sausages and fatty cuts of meat. Choose leaner sources such as chicken, fish, beans, eggs, low-fat milk and nuts. Good fish sources of healthy omega-3 include salmon, sardines and mackerel. Protein increases your metabolism and helps you retain muscles. Instead of focusing on sweets, eat more protein to reduce your belly fat.  

Choose healthier carbohydrates.

Cut down on your intake of less healthy carbs such as white rice and white bread. Replace this with healthier whole-grain foods such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread and whole wheat pasta. You can also increase your vegetable intake to compensate for lesser rice and bread intake.

Do aerobic exercises.

Cardio or aerobic exercise is a healthy way to burn belly fat. Dancing, jogging, brisk walking and swimming are effective exercises. One study showed that women over 50, reduced fat in their bodies when they had one hour of exercise 5 times a week.

Be more physical active.

If you are busy for an exercise program, then you can use your daily activities as a substitute. Doing household chores, going up and down the stairs can be your source of exercise.

During break time, you can do some sit-ups, wall push-ups and half-squats. You can buy a pedometer to track your activity level.

Reduce your stress levels.

Stress can actually make you fat by making you eat more. Stress causes our adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol then increases our appetite and adds to our belly fat. By relieving stress, you will feel less hungry.

Sleep at least 7-8 hours at night.

People who don’t get quality sleep tend to gain more weight. They feel tired and restless, hence they compensate by eating more foods.

As you can see, it takes various lifestyle changes to reduce belly fat and become healthier. But if you follow most of these tips, I’m sure you will feel better and lose some weight. Good luck.

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