I often get questions about losing body fat, especially belly fat.
While it’s not the same for everyone, let me start with the basics. Obviously, a good diet is required, with an emphasis on vegetables, fruits and whole grains, reduced consumption of red meat and full-fat dairy products, and avoiding simple “sweetened and white flour” carbohydrates. But this is just the starting point and a good diet may not be enough. You have to be aware of what is happening with your insulin level and of course you have to not just exercise but exercise the right way.
I have been battling the bulge for many years. When I was younger, I trained hard as a boxer and then as a powerlifter. Because I trained to the extremes as a competitive athlete, a slim waist was never an issue and I was proud of my six pack abs. Ah, the good old days!
But as I got older, even though I still ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly, it was disappointing that my waistline wasn’t what it used to be. Eventually, I stumbled upon a solution. To get my slim waist back, I started controlling my daily blood insulin level through intermittent fasting.
How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Belly Fat
When you eat throughout the day, even if you’re careful with your diet and exercise, you constantly trigger an insulin response. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, a health expert whom I greatly respect: “High insulin levels tell your body to gain weight around your belly.”
Worse yet, too much insulin and too much belly fat contribute to insulin resistance, which makes matters worse because it promotes the accumulation of even more belly fat, plus belly fat becomes more stubborn. As Hyman says, “You hang on to that spare tire for life.”
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Intermittent fasting is effective because it keeps my insulin level down during extended periods of daily fasting (18 hours or more). And with low insulin, especially if you eat right and exercise, you enter a fat-burning zone that’s especially effective for reducing belly fat.
How Aerobic Exercise Can Help You Lose Belly Fat
We now turn our attention to the exercise. It is common to use spot reduction techniques to lose belly fat, but unfortunately it doesn’t work. Spot reduction means attempting to lose body fat in a specific location, and a typical bogus approach to losing belly fat is to do lots of sit-ups, leg raises, crunches, etc., trying to burn the fat surrounding the abdominal muscles. . These exercises will strengthen the underlying abdominal muscles, but will not remove the layer of fat that covers them.
In 1984 a pioneering research study was conducted by Research Quarterly in which subjects wishing to reduce belly fat focused on spot reduction with abdominal exercise. After working out five days a week and performing thousands of sit-ups, the subjects showed no loss of belly fat. Why were there no effects?
The abs workout only burned a few calories (kcal). You need to burn a whopping 3500 calories to lose just one pound of body fat, and 30 minutes of abs doesn’t make a single dent.
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More importantly, the underlying abdominal muscles cannot “reach out” and grab the surrounding fat and selectively burn it for fuel. Conversely, if fat is mobilized, it comes from storage sites throughout the body and is discharged into the blood vapour. From there, exercising the muscles can pick it up and use it as needed.
Several other research studies have shown similar poor results for point reduction exercise compared to aerobic exercise which can produce a significant improvement in both overall body fat loss and belly fat loss. This is because aerobic exercise burns a large number of calories, and losing body fat means burning more calories than you consume, creating a negative calorie balance. If you burn very few calories doing an abs workout in 30 minutes versus 300 or more calories by brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming, etc., for the same 30 minutes, it’s easy to see why aerobic exercise would be more effective. .
How resistance training can help reduce belly fat
Aerobic exercise burns a lot of calories in 30 minutes. Conversely, 30 minutes of resistance exercise (weight training) burns far fewer calories. This means that the acute effect of aerobic training is greater than resistance exercise.
However, the chronic calorie-burning effect of resistance exercise really adds up. The effect is so good, in fact, resistance exercise is recommended as an effective weight management tool, especially as you get older. Here because.
Starting in your thirties, your body starts to lose muscle unless you engage in resistance exercise. This is important because muscle mass makes up the lion’s share of your resting metabolic rate—the number of calories you burn each minute to support daily bodily functions.
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If you don’t lift weights, you lose muscle mass. In turn, your resting metabolic rate decreases and you burn fewer calories each day. For example, let’s say your resting metabolic rate as a young adult is 1.0 calories per minute, but decades later as you lose muscle mass, it drops to 0.95 calories. This small difference matters because metabolism is chronically going, 24/7, and a small difference adds up.
A 1.0 to 0.95 drop in resting metabolic rate is only 0.05 calories per minute, but it’s very important because every minute the 0.05 calories are not consumed. In one year, you have 0.05 x 60 min x 24 hours x 365 days = 26,280 calories that you burned in the past, but not now. That’s 7.5 pounds of extra body fat (3,500 calories per pound) due to loss of muscle mass and a decline in resting metabolism.
As you can see, a two-pronged exercise bout with acute and chronic calorie-burning exercise (aerobic and resistance exercise), is the best way to reduce overall body fat and belly fat.
Reach Bryant Stamford, professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at Hanover College, at email@example.com.
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