Women tend to gain spare tires around the middle while men acquire "beer bellies," especially as they age. The reality is that both kinds of midriff-weight gain can be dangerous to your health and detrimental to your self-esteem. Yet dieting might makes things worse. Sit-ups will not really help either. But there are effective ways to slim the waistline and improve your self-confidence.
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Do not diet. On-and-off again calorie restriction can increase weight gain, especially for menopausal women according to the book, Outsmarting the Midlife Fat Cell, by Debra Waterhouse. Both men and women will lose muscle, thin bone and reduce productivity by dieting. You are better off changing your habits. You need to choose better foods, eat smaller portions, snack more frequently throughout the day, and eat your smallest meal in the evening.
Get moving, especially with aerobic exercise. Jean Meyer, a nutritionist, concludes that inactivity is the key factor in the weight epidemic in modern Western societies. Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, biking, dancing and more reduces overall body fat. The idea that you can do endless sit-ups and lose belly fat is a myth. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says to lose weight burning 300 calories (about 40 to 45 minutes of activity) four times a week is a good start.
Lift weights. Doing so will jump-start the metabolism and make your muscles use fat for fuel, says Debra Waterhouse. For women, fit muscles produce oestrogen, which helps with menopausal weight gain. Both men and women need to increase lean muscle mass (everywhere even the midsection) with weightlifting. This can be done with light weights and more repetitions. Doing two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions will build lean mass.
Get enough sleep. There is a connection between insomnia and slow and steady weight gain. Often when people are tired, they will eat and drink more to try to stay awake. Sleeping enough (depends on the person) each night ensures that your appetite is under control and keeps weight gain in check.
Limit your stress, which increases the levels of cortisol (hormone) in your body. Too much cortisol has been linked to weight gain especially in the belly area. One way to reduce stress is to exercise. You can also try meditation, massage, self-hypnosis, getting a pet, yoga, the emotional freedom technique (tapping) and many more methods. The key is that you need to do something to reduce stress and lower associated hormones in your system.
Get enough calcium. Cynthia Sass, co-author of Flat Belly Diet, recommends specific foods to eat to minimise the belly bulge. She suggests eating low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks. Prevention magazine cites a study that indicates both men and women benefit from increased calcium intake. Women in particular saw a reduction in belly fat with more calcium. You can start eating low-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese or take calcium supplements in the proper dosage.
Tips and warnings
- Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night.
- Sit-ups and crunches will not reduce belly fat. However, they can tone the muscle underneath.
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