Fat deposits vary from person-to-person and are influenced by gender, age, hormones, and genetics. Therefore as weight increases, fat may collect in certain areas based on these factors. Abdominal or centralized fat is not only particularly troublesome to get rid of, but also carries with it additional risk factors for certain chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (AHA, 2013). As you lose abdominal fat, you decrease your risk factors for those conditions.
Belly Fat Facts
Fad diets that claim to reduce belly fat seem to trend regularly. Unfortunately, these diets tend to distort some of the basic nutritional facts. One of the most important factors to keep in mind is that it is excess calories (not specific foods) coupled with insufficient amounts of physical activity that cause weight gain. Just as we’re unable to determine where fat will be deposited, we can’t direct the release of fat based on the foods we eat. However researchers continue to look for strategies to help individuals lose weight (including belly fat) for health risk reduction purposes and overall wellbeing.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants following a calorie-controlled diet, rich in whole grains were inversely associated with centralized abdominal fat (McKeown, 2010). Whole grains tend to be higher in fiber than their refined counterparts and as a result take longer to digest. This means that they are better equipped to regulate blood glucose levels and keep you full for a longer period of time. A few examples of whole grains include:
• Whole Wheat Bread/Crackers
Curious about the grains in your favorite products? Simply look for the word “whole” in the ingredient listing which tells you that the grain used was kept in its unrefined natural form.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps ensure adequate nutrient intake while decreasing the caloric density of a meal- thus making it easier to lose weight. Be sure to look for brightly-colored produce for maximum nutrient value and aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies to help balance out the rest of the meal.
Regular physical activity plays a major role in both weight loss as well as maintenance. The amount of exercise to successfully lose/maintain your weight may vary, but most adults should strive for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for overall good health.
A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables coupled with regular physical activity is still the best way we know to fight the battle of the bulge and help keep it off for life.
American Heart Association (AHA), Obesity Information and Risk Factors, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/Obesity/Obesity-I
McKeown, N.C., et. al, Whole and Refined Grain Intakes are Differentially Associated with Abdominal, Visceral and Subcutaneous Adiposity in Healthy Adults, The Framingham Heart Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2010 v92: 5 1165-1171.