5 Tricks to Burn Belly Fat and More – What the Research Really Shows

burn belly fat

Is Your Temple Fit for the Master’s Use?

Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God because he owns it. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, TLB)

In the last decade, here are a few things that have been established in the food and nutrition world:

  • The scale doesn’t show an accurate picture of your health.
  • Fat cells are metabolically active.
  • Chronic inflammation creates an environment for disease to thrive.
  • Belly fat produces inflammation and reduces insulin sensitivity.

Taking care of our bodies is not about reaching a certain weight, BMI or size.  That’s not what God has called us to do when he charges us to take care of our temples.  Healthy bodies are a result of choices we make to eat well, move daily, play, rest and speak words of life.  

But research continues to show that extra fat, specifically fat in the abdominal cavity, puts us at a bigger risk for some diseases and cancers.  This particular type of fat, also called visceral fat, hugs organs and has been linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.  In women, visceral fat has also been linked to breast cancer.

So, how can we effectively burn belly fat and more?  Here is what some of the research shows and simple actions you can take to make these a part of your lifestyle:

1. Boost Your Daily Fiber

burn belly fat chia seedsIt’s well known that fiber has a huge impact on cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health, but its resume is even more impressive.  A certain type of fiber called soluble fiber binds with water molecules and creates a gel that promotes a feeling of fullness.  This helps you naturally eat less because you feel satisfied.  But, it gets even better…

In one observational study of over 1100 African and Hispanic American adults, an increase of 10 grams of soluble fiber/day reduced the amount of visceral (belly) fat gain by 3.7%.  To put this into perspective, the average American consumes 16 grams of total fiber per day. BUT, fiber recommendations are 25-38 grams per day.

Essentially, if we aim to eat enough fiber each day, we can take one step to halt belly fat. The foundation of a healthy diet includes real food, so choose food first to meet all your fiber needs.  

Real food sources high in soluble fiber include:

Whole Grains– notably oats and barley
Vegetables– brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and sweet potatoes to name a few
Beans & Lentils– all varieties
Fruit– apples, pears, citrus, figs and dates
Nuts & Seeds– especially ground flax and chia seeds

ACTION:
Aim for 5-8 grams fiber per meal & 3-5 grams per snack.  Here are some ideas:

Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa– 5 grams fiber
Hearty Beef & Bean Pumpkin Chili– 13 grams fiber
Quinoa Edamame Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette– 5 grams fiber
Honey Parmesan-Roasted Acorn Squash– 4 grams fiber
Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats Recipe Blueprint– 4 grams fiber (oats only)

2. Include Protein at Every Meal & Snack

burn belly fat proteinProtein is known to boost your feeling of fullness which helps reduce your appetite. Remember that every time you eat extra calories, regardless of what type they are, your body stores excess as fat.  Controlling your appetite by including protein at your meals and snacks will help you manage portions and avoid munching when it’s not mealtime.  

But, research also shows that individuals who are eating more quality protein at meals tend to have less abdominal fat.  One recommendation that emerged from a study promotes consuming 20-30 grams of quality protein per meal, including breakfast.  Our first meal of the day, if consumed, tends to be the lowest in quality protein.  Don’t forget about breakfast!

It’s also important to note that protein comes from a variety of sources including dairy, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu, tempeh, and beans – not just meat and poultry.

ACTION

Ensure your breakfast includes a good source of quality protein.  Here are a few ideas:

High Protein Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa– 18 grams protein
Protein Packed Oatmeal– 10-20 grams protein
Easy Egg Muffins– 10 grams per 2 muffins

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT, high-intensity interval training, is a way of exercising that includes a sequence of intense exercise bursts followed by recovery.  The idea is to give your best effort for a period of time and then slow down and allow your body to recover.

These workouts have gained popularity and for good reason!  Research shows that HIIT:

  • burns more calories for the 2 hours post-exercise than traditional endurance exercise
  • burns abdominal fat while maintaining muscle

There are several other benefits of HIIT noted here.  

The best part is that these workouts can be completed in as little as 20 minutes!  For those short on time (i.e. everyone!), this is a great workout to burn fat fast!  

The American College of Sports Medicine does recommend beginning with only 1 HIIT workout per week and eventually increasing to 2 times per week as fitness and endurance improve.  It is an exhaustive type of workout, but definitely effective.  However, it is not for everyone.  Read this article to find out more and whether it is a tool you can use to burn fat.  

Of course, check with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your fitness routine.  You can read more from the American College of Sports Medicine to learn about some of the basics and to find a 7-minute HIIT routine to try out.

ACTION

Read this article on HIIT and determine if this is a workout for you.  Many gyms have classes that include a HIIT class, and you can also find online programs that use this training method.  

4. Include Strength Training Several Times Per Week

burn belly fat weightsResistance training (aka strength training or weight lifting) helps maintain and/or build lean body mass-muscle.  At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat.  So, the more muscle you have, the more potential you have to burn calories.  Period.  

A common saying is “muscle weighs less than fat.”  That’s not exactly true.  One pound of muscle weighs the same as 1 pound of fat.  However, 1 pound of muscle looks much leaner than 1 pound of fat. Your body will look more “lean” if you have more muscle.

While aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, and cycling are excellent for your heart health, strength training may slow the increase in belly fat better than cardiovascular exercise, according to some research.

And, if you think weight training is just for young people, think again.  In fact, strength training is quite beneficial for an aging population, especially because women and men tend to lose muscle as they age.  If you want to keep your metabolism working for you, stay strong and fit, strength training is a must!

ACTION

Include at least 2 strength training sessions per week, working all major muscle groups – per recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine.

5. Make Rest A Priority

snooze buttonAlthough it may feel counterintuitive, rest is essential to burn fat and get lean.  Stress is a natural result of our busy lives.  It increases hormones that trigger hunger and abdominal fat accumulation like cortisol.  When cortisol is chronically high, it works against our efforts to burn fat.  

Rest is the answer.  Not just your nightly 8 hours, but a day of rest – Sabbath.  Thousands of years ago, God gave us the solution to prevent our lives (and waistlines) from getting out of control.  This command is actually a gift.  Sabbath is totally devoted to mental and physical rest.  It allows you to begin your workweek with a smile instead of a frown.  Who knew that this ancient Jewish commandment could actually be a key to help us normalize our hormones and burn fat?  God did.

ACTION

Choose 1 practical way you can slow down and practice rest this week.  A few ideas:

  • Put your phone up (out of sight) once you walk in the door at night – don’t look back!
  • Take a short 20-minute nap after lunch and before your afternoon work
  • Take a leisure walk after dinner listening to worship music.
  • Decide to practice the Sabbath. Read more about it in Exodus 20:8-11.

So, what’s the play call?

Your beautiful body doesn’t need to fit into any sized jeans, but it does need to be fit and energized to live your purpose today.  If you have been frustrated and struggling with your self-esteem around the way your body looks, know that your Creator calls you beautiful, amazing, a work of art – just as you are right now.  

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Songs 4:7, ESV

He has also given you tools and wisdom so that you are not enslaved to anyone’s expectations, including your own.  Today, you can choose to live well and love your body.

Choose one action step – just 1- and truly commit to it this week.  Submit this area to God every morning.  Choose to be fit and free – free of expectations, definitions, and frustrations.  

You can be “free to be me.”

 


References

Hamdy O, Porramatikul S, Al-Ozairi E. Metabolic obesity: the paradox between visceral and subcutaneous fat.Curr Diabetes Rev. 2006 Nov;2(4):367-73.

United States Department of Agriculture

The Food Supply & Dietary Fiber: Its Availability & Effect on Health
Fiber Intake of the US Population

Loenneke, J. P., Wilson, J. M., Manninen, A. H., Wray, M. E., Barnes, J. T., & Pujol, T. J. (2012). Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat. Nutrition & Metabolism, 9, 5. http://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-9-5

Donald K Layman, Tracy G Anthony, Blake B Rasmussen, Sean H Adams, Christopher J Lynch, Grant D Brinkworth, Teresa A Davis; Defining meal requirements for protein to optimize metabolic roles of amino acids, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 101, Issue 6, 1 June 2015, Pages 1330S–1338S, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.084053

Hairston, K. G., Vitolins, M. Z., Norris, J. M., Anderson, A. M., Hanley, A. J., & Wagenknecht, L. E. (2012). Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 20(2), http://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2011.171

American College of Sports Medicine

Resistance Training for Health & Fitness
The Basics of High Intensity Interval Training

 

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