1. Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol can have dramatic effects on your health and well-being. In addition to being extra calories at the end of a day it will also slow your metabolism. When you drink alcohol your body uses it as energy immediately which stops fat oxidation. Any excess food that you eat will be converted directly into fat. Just think about how much extra you are likely to eat while you are drinking. It is a bad combination. Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to excess belly fat (1).
2. Eat a higher protein diet
A high protein diet is very beneficial for a couple of reasons. It will help maintain muscle mass which will increase your metabolism. A higher amount of protein in your diet releases the hormone peptide YY which keeps you fuller (2). If you are feeling fuller you won’t need to eat as many calories from carbohydrates and fats. Higher protein diets can also increase thermogenesis (3). Thermogenesis is the process of burning calories to increase body temperature. Protein can be a good way to curb your appetite, drop the belly fat, and keep you stronger!
3. Decrease stress
Stress releases cortisol. Higher cortisol levels increases appetite. Especially, when you are stressed you may be tempted to eat bad foods. There is a reason why they call it comfort food and usually that comfort food is not the healthiest option. Decreasing stress will help you lose belly fat. You have to try to decrease stress any way that you can. There are always different methods that you can use to decrease stress, but you need to find your own methods. Try to disconnect from work or find some time to relax. Decreasing stress will help you decrease belly fat and improve your overall well-being so it is definitely worth doing!
4. Eat less sugar and refined carbs
Almost everyone can agree that eating sugar is not good for your health. Calories from sugar are empty calories but there are also other reasons why sugar can make you gain weight. Sugar does not have much of an effect on making you feel full, so it is easy to eat or drink a lot of sugar and then eat more on top of that. You can see how this might have a negative effect on weight gain and belly fat. Sugar can decrease insulin sensitivity (4). Decreasing insulin sensitivity also means that your body will not take in nutrients as effectively which can lead to diabetes.
5. Increase cardio
This one seems obvious enough but it is important to always drill the point home. It can be very easy to forget to do your cardio workouts. Doing cardio will burn calories, simple as that. The more calories you burn the less you need to rely on your diet to create a caloric deficit. This is probably the one that everybody thinks about when they want to lose belly fat, but do they actually follow through?
6. Resistance training
Resistance training will help you burn belly fat in two ways. First, it will burn calories while you are actually doing the exercises. Doing big total body lifts like squats, deadlifts, and cleans will get the most amount of muscle recruited for the exercise which will burn the most amount of calories. Resistance training will also increase your lean body mass which will increase your metabolism. Muscle requires a lot of calories to function, so the more muscle you have the more calories and belly fat you will burn when you are just doing nothing. Don’t forget to push yourself during a workout. You won’t get the same effect if you are lazy during a workout.
7. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep helps you recover and decrease stress. Studies show that people that get less sleep have higher amounts of belly fat (5). Your body will not perform as well if you are not properly recovered. This can cause a downward spiral where you eat poorly, exercise less, and increase stress. As we already know, all of those factors can increase belly fat, so it is important to get enough sleep!
8. Track food intake and decrease calories
Tracking your food intake can be one of the best ways to lose fat. If you track your calories you can effectively eat less than the amount of calories your body needs which will result in weight loss. You may have to take some time to learn how many calories you need in a regular day. Do this by tracking your calories, weight, and how you feel over a couple of days. Once you find out your metabolic rate you can then start to eat fewer calories. Start modestly at around 100-150 calories per day less than what you need. After some time you will see that you are losing your belly fat.
9. Drink green tea
Caffeine in green tea induces thermogenesis which burns fat. As we learned earlier thermogenesis is the action by which the body increases body temperature by burning calories. Many fat burners on the market are made up of caffeine and green tea extract. I would not recommend fat burners because they are too harsh on the body, but they help to prove this point. Drink green tea every so often to get a metabolic boost and burn that belly fat!
10. Eat healthy fats
Fats are an essential part of your diet. They play a big role in hormone production, so it is important to get fats in your diet. You should try to eat as many healthy fats as you can. These fats are easier to break down in the body which can lead to decreases in fat storage. Unhealthy fats are also usually associated with the worst kinds of food. Fried foods top that list so it is important to avoid those foods as much as possible.
1. Schroder, H. “Relationship of abdominal obesity with alcohol consumption at population scale.”Eur J Nutr. 2007 Oct;46(7):369-76. Epub 2007 Sep 20.
2. Batterham, RL. “Critical role for peptide YY in protein-mediated satiation and body- weightregulation.” Cell Metab. 2006 Sep;4(3):223-33.
3. Halton, TL. “The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a criticalreview.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85.
4. Stanhope, KL. “Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of thecontroversy.” Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2016;53(1):52-67. doi: 10.3109/1040
8363.2015.1084990. Epub 2015 Sep 17.
5. Lopez-Garcia, E. “Sleep duration, general and abdominal obesity, and weight change among theolder adult population of Spain.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):310-6.
Kinesthetic awareness is an understanding of your body. In exercise physiology, kinesthesia means a conscious recognition of the position of body parts with respect with one another as well as recognition of limb-movement rates (1). Within the scope of everyday exercise, kinesthetic awareness is an important part of working out. It helps you control the form of an exercise, it helps keep you safe from injury, and it can help you gain more respect for your own movement.
Your body contains mechanisms that make this kinesthetic awareness possible. There are mechanisms around your joints and in your muscles that help you detect movement and body position. Why do you think it is possible that you can instinctively know your body position when your eyes are closed? The mechanisms send information to your brain regarding muscle length, joint activity, and muscle tension. Instead of describing the entire chain I’ll just describe the muscle spindle. The muscle spindle is a nerve that is spiraled around a group of muscle fibers. Muscle spindles are scattered throughout a muscle to detect muscle length. When the spiral of a muscle spindle is lengthened or shortened nerve impulses are sent to the brain showing the change in muscle length. In combination with other kinesthesia mechanisms the brain can get an accurate picture of what is happening to your body.
So, how does this relate to you? Kinesthetic awareness, or mind muscle connection, or body awareness is a tool. In a way this concept should seems obvious. Of course, you should know what your body is doing and how it is positioned during exercise, but it may not always be so simple. You may get distracted with discomfort or fatigue, or you may totally forget to keep good form at all. It is very easy to slip back into old ways. Just remember that at any experience level kinesthetic awareness can improve your workout so don’t get discouraged. Try to keep something in mind that reminds you to be aware.
When you perform an exercise your goal is to strengthen a muscle by targeting it through resistance. For example, when you do a bicep curl you may be holding a dumbbell that you pull in order to put a stress on the muscle. In order to do this you need to perform that bicep curl with proper form, and this is done through kinesthetic awareness, or with the help of a trainer. The trainer will be able to help guide you through proper body position and movement. It can be very easy to have bad form and begin using the wrong muscles to pull the weight up. Your back might start swinging or your shoulders might get too involved.
(Don’t be like Arnold here)
Your goal should be to concentrate on the muscles you are targeting. Do this by increasing the time the muscle is under resistance or tension. Every time the wrong muscle starts working the muscle you are trying to target loses tension. The biggest mistake you can make is to just do a movement. What I mean is that you just perform an exercise without actually trying to work a specific muscle. When you do this you run the risk of working the wrong muscles which can lead to injury and improper movement pathways.
Next time you are working out be sure to recognize in every exercise what muscle you should be working. You may need to do some research. When you are performing the exercise try to feel the muscle working and see how you can make it work harder. This will usually be achieved by keeping the rest of your body stable or putting yourself in a better position. You could also slow down an exercise or possibly increase the resistance. Try to keep the muscle working for the longest amount of time. Feel how your body responds and adjust accordingly. The point here is that you wouldn’t be able to do any of this if you weren’t staying aware of your body.
Whether you are a beginner or you have more experience the goal of an exercise is to get the most out of it. Developing your awareness will improve your form which will increase your performance. That is why it is so important to develop kinesthetic awareness. This awareness helps you to build a respect for how you are moving. This is a skill that will never be useless. So, next time you do an exercise; start to think about the muscles you are working and how you can target them better. Concentrate on your form and have an awareness of how your body reacts.
1. Powers, Scott and Edward Howley. Exercise Physiology Theory and Application to Fitness and Peformance. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print. Page 129-130.