First and foremost, you could lose belly fat without exercise does not mean that you should not exercise!
During the lock down or circuit breaker in Singapore, there has been a lot of feedback that many are gaining unwanted weight due to long hours spent at home with little or no exercise. The fact is, you can truly lose belly fat at home naturally without exercising!
There are millions of exercise videos, articles and blogs on how to lose belly fat, get killer abs and the body you desire often with little or no effort at all. All you need, based on the tonnes of advice, is to invest just minutes per day in abs exercises to get the flat, trim tummy and chiselled mid-section. You might have tried them, the fact that you are still reading shows that those videos didn’t work.
How can your abs show?
According to Dr Sten Ekberg, Holistic Doctor and ex-Olympian, our belly fat is made up of 2 types of fat.
- Subcutaneous fat – just under the skin, the one you can grab. Lose this fat and the abdominal muscle just below it will show.
- Visceral fat – is the deep fat below the ab muscle, accumulates which gives the big belly look. This is the fat that sits next to the vital organs which can cause serious health conditions eg. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer.
There are many good reasons to lose belly fat besides vanity and one of the most important is that visceral fat can be detrimental to your health. Studies show that losing 5-10 percent of total body weight, can significantly reduce the risk of developing the above serious diseases. Visceral fat, also called “organ fat” or “intra-abdominal fat”, is stored stubbornly close in proximity to the liver, kidneys and digestive organs. It is easier for the fat to get into the bloodstream leading to clogged arteries and hypertension among other diseases.
How do we get belly fat in the first place?
Obesity in developed and developing countries alike has been rising at such a staggering rate, it is correct to call it “the obesity epidemic”. The factors causing unhealthy weight gain are
- Consumption of processed and packaged foods, with a corresponding decrease in high fibre plant foods. The greatest change of this century is the over-consumption of processed vegetable oils, sugary drinks, fast food and sweet snacks.
- Comfort or emotional eating due to increased stressful and hectic lifestyles, which translates to eating unhealthily while distracted and on the go.
- Disadvantaged communities, where access to and affordability of healthy food is limited. The obesity risk in these communities are even higher than in affluent societies.
- Partly genetics, passing on likelihood of obesity from mom to baby. Research also shows that a mother’s environment, habits and diet during pregnancy can have lasting effects on the child’s body weight and risk of chronic disease.
- Reduction in physical activity for leisure or work, including more people working sedentary jobs. Experts are already anticipating that the new normal of living and working with COVID-19 is more work from home (WFH) arrangements.
- Studies examining the social effects of weight gain found that a person’s risk of becoming obese increased if close friends, siblings or spouses became obese.
There are 2 hormones that causes visceral fat to increase in the body – Insulin and Cortisol.
Insulin is released when high carbohydrates is consumed. It helps take glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into cells for energy use later. When there is too much glucose in the blood, is stored as body fat.
Cortisol is also known as “the stress hormone” which gets released when one is stressed physically or emotionally. Excess cortisol drives up blood sugar and increases insulin that contribute to visceral fat accumulation around the midsection.
How to lose belly fat naturally for good
Since insulin is the cause that got the belly fat there in the first place, we can reverse it through dietary intervention. We undo this by reducing high carbs and sugar intake as well as having lesser meals.
Reducing belly fat naturally is 95% dietary and 5% exercising the right way.
Most people at this point may be disappointed, thinking that they have to go on a crash diet or sentenced to a bland, tasteless life of water, salads and fruit. This cannot be further from the truth!
It is both what you eat and what you do with what you eat that helps you lose belly fat naturally.
What to eat to be healthy:
- Non-starchy vegetables – leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprout
- Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blue berries
- Grass-fed meats & wild caught fish – beef, pork, chicken, lamb, salmon, mackerel
- Eggs from pasture raised, free range chicken
- Fats & Oils – grass fed butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
- Nuts – macadamia, pecan, walnuts, almond
- Seeds – chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin
- Avocado – perfect meal high in fat, low in carbohydrates and protein
- Tubers – sweet potato, potato, turnips, carrot
- Herbs & spices – garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, parsley, rosemary
There are lots of resources on how you can enjoy delicious meals from Real Foods as opposed to Fake Foods loaded with unhealthy additives and preservatives from food sources force fed with antibiotics and growth hormones. Check out healthy recipes on DrAxe.com
Additional helpful tips:
- Reduce stress through personal lifestyle choices. This is especially relevant in a lock down/circuit breaker, having to balance work in a WFH (Work From Home) arrangement.
- Get quantity of quality sleep. It helps with regulating hormones and getting sufficient rest energises one to exercise.
- Practise intermittent fasting. Restrict your meals to a 6-8 hour window. The easiest way is to have your dinner at 6 pm, skip breakfast the next day and eat only lunch and dinner. Your body gets 16 hours rest and detox daily or at least several days per week. Intermittent fasting regulates insulin and helps diabetics and obese. This shift in eating pattern is more effective in losing fat long term than dieting with the exception of a ketogenic diet.
- Consume Emu Oil capsules to supplement your Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) your body needs but is not able to produce. The Omega 3,6,9 ratio in Emu Oil is ideal to keep your body in perfect balance to help with diabetes, cardiovascular health and fight inflammation. It is naturally derived from the fat of the Australian Emu bird, used by aborigines for centuries to treat many ailments.
- Practise aerobic and core/ab workouts is possible, even from home.
Exercises to help lose belly fat
Aerobic vs Anaerobic. When we talk about aerobic exercises we are not referring to huffing and puffing in front of some old Jane Fonda exercise videos (or any other newer fads) complete with leotards and knee high leg warmers . In fact, if you are huffing and puffing, you are probably straining to get oxygen which is Anaerobic, meaning Without Oxygen. Anaerobic exercises is using glucose as a source of energy in the absence of oxygen instead of burning fat. It sets off a chain of bodily reactions that includes increasing cortisol and insulin produced, which is counter productive.
Aerobic exercises are those you can do while just being able to conduct a conversation. As such, you would be able to sustain the workout for 30-90 mins, typically at a heart rate under 120 beats per minute.
- Recommended aerobic exercises are walking, slow jogs, home or gym treadmill workouts
- Core muscle exercises include all kinds of planks, reverse crunches, leg raises, flipper kicks, crunches, and many more you can check out on Youtube.
- High Intensity Impact Training (HIIT) or Burst Training. It is a short 15-20 mins total workout session of various exercises done at 85-100% intensity for 45-60 secs each followed by 15 secs rest in between. This is a fat burning, performance enhancing workout which, when done for only a short period, does not induce cortisol production in the body.
- Weight training. Don’t think heavy weight lifting as it can also be workouts that uses your body weight. It has been proven that by creating more muscle, the body will burn more calories.