In your experience, what are some of the most successful ways to reduce that fat around our mid-sections?
There are two things you need to do to reduce belly fat. First, you need to lose the extra weight so that you can see those abs. The best way to do this is through increasing physical activity and eating a healthier diet and cutting back on portion sizes. High-intensity intervals of cardio and strength training (think boot camps and circuit training) are your best bet because they will burn the most fat. For your nutrition, emphasize plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. Also, it’s important to limit saturated fat that’s found in meat and high-fat dairy products.
Second, forget spot-reducing. There’s no way to burn fat from a particular area of the body when working out, but doing core work that engages your transverse abdominis from all dimensions can help to strengthen your core and tighten up your midsection. This can help your belly to appear slimmer.
Can you share a few specific exercises or routines that work for that purpose?
The Hundred in Pilates is great, as are planks and side planks. When doing any kind of ab work, you can better engage your transverse abs by keeping your belly button pulled in and tightening your muscles as if you were trying not to pee. (Sounds funny but it works!) Also, while it’s not good to do strength training with weights that focus on the same muscles every day, it is OK to do ab exercises daily. Try to fit them in for 10 minutes at the end of every work out.
What about specific foods to help reduce belly fat?
Eat all of the healthy foods you can–veggies, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats like those found in salmon, avocados, nuts and coconut oil! Eating too much sodium can make you bloat, so be sure to limit the salt and processed foods, too. Also, a fiber-rich diet can help. One study showed that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day, without any other diet changes, build up less visceral fat over time than others. That’s two small apples, a cup of green peas, and a half-cup of pinto beans, for example.
How does stress play a role in encouraging belly fat?
When we’re stressed our body releases cortisol. Some research has shown that this promotes weight gain in the stomach area. Furthermore, when we’re stressed, we tend to crave sugary and fatty foods, which in excess can cause us to gain weight.
What is your number one tip to avoid belly fat to begin with?
Take care of yourself and love yourself! De-stress by choosing workouts you enjoy, eat healthy foods that make you feel good and laugh often. Being healthy doesn’t have to mean having a six-pack; it’s really about feeling comfortable and strong in your own skin!