Is belly fat your bane? Read on, for tips on how to bust that poochiness.
If you’re a mom, there’s a good chance you have glanced down at your midsection, a time or two, and thought...well hello, where did you come from? But perhaps your reaction to your squashy new sidekick was not quite so friendly as this.
A rounder, softer tummy is one of the prices of motherhood, it seems to me. (By the way, if anyone knows the whereabouts of my missing waistline, please let me know. I really miss her).
Still, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. And, truth be told, belly fat is more than just an aesthetic thing. It’s a health issue, too. You might have heard some attention paid to apple vs pear-shaped physiques. Which is an important distinction. An apple silhouette (with fat accumulated around the belly) is more dangerous than a pear shape. Years of research have shown an association between belly fat and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
But whether you want to lose that spare tire for your looks or your health—it's a good goal.
So, what to do?
1. Watch out for trans fat.
Saturated fat, in general, is not your friend if you want a nice lean tummy, but trans fats are particularly evil. A study at Wake Forest University showed that trans fat increased the amount of fat stored around the belly...and even worse: it redistributes fat from other parts of your body to the abdomen. Yes, you heard me. It takes fat from other parts of you and slaps it on your belly. Now that is just not nice.
2. Drink green tea.
A recent study showed that consumption of green tea enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss. Okay, seriously. Is there anything green tea doesn't help with?
3. Go easy on the alcohol.
Alcohol seems to be a particularly bad thing for belly fat. One theory: when you drink, your liver is too busy burning off the alcohol to metabolize fat properly. But worse, is this: alcohol can affect the hormones that regulate your satiety center. In other words, it can make you feel hungrier. Now, you know I’m all for a daily glass of wine. And there are lots of health benefits to that habit—heart disease prevention being the biggie. I’m just saying: go easy on the booze. They don’t call it a beer belly for nothing.
4. Manage your stress.
Chronic, unrelenting stress does a lot of bad things to our bodies and minds. Not the least of which is produce a steady stream of cortisol. And, unfortunately, cortisol stimulates our bodies to accumulate fat around our abdomens. Great. As if being stressed isn't bad enough. Now you're stressed...and chubby. Read this for tips on stress management.
5. Gobble blueberries.
Blueberries have been shown in lab studies to diminish abdominal fat. Don't get too excited, yet, though—the study was only done on rats. Still, it may prove applicable to the rest of us. Besides, blueberries have other benefits too.
6. Fiber, fiber, fiber.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a diet rich in whole grains helped rid obese patients of extra belly fat. So that's a good thing. But there's another benefit to fiber, when it comes to achieving a nice flat belly. And I'm not going to be cute about this one. If you're constipated, it's hard to have a truly flat abdomen. No, this isn't belly fat, per se, but you'll still have that bloated roundness that's not exactly pretty (or comfortable!). To get a trimmer tummy you need a combo of: less body fat, no constipation/bloating, and toned muscles...which brings me to...
You knew I was going to get to this one, right? Yes, exercise will definitely help you get a flat tummy. Best approach: get a combo of cardio (to burn fat) and core strengthening to tone those muscles. My current fave? Yoga plank pose. How to fit exercise into a busy mom’s lifestyle? Baby steps.
8. What about diet soda?
It seems logical to cut calories by drinking diet soda. But the evidence is conflicting. Some recent studies have shown that diet soda can actually increase weight gain. Read this if you're curious why this might be.
Dear belly pooch: your services will no longer be required.