Upper belly fat is a common problem for many of us. It refers to the accumulation of visceral fat around the organs in your upper abdomen, which results in an increased waist size. If you have more fat around your upper belly and waist than you would like, then just counting calories may not be entirely sufficient. While a healthy diet and regular exercise plan may help manage your weight and reduce belly fat, the last few inches of upper belly fat are far more complicated to get rid of. It takes a calculated, and consistent, plan to shed the last few inches around the upper belly. The causes of upper belly fat, or upper abdominal fat, are in most cases related to our lifestyle choices. For some, the reasons could be based in genetics or even hormonal fluctuations. One must consider a holistic approach that targets all these elements to change their body and achieve their desired fitness goals. But, first let's understand the basic reasons or causes of upper belly fat in detail.
Reasons For Upper Abdominal Weight Gain
1. You Are Eating Unhealthy Food
We all love to devour fried foods and delightful sweet treats, don't we? From piping hot samosas, cheesy fries, butter popcorns and chicken patty burger to sugar-dipped jalebis, cheese cakes and chocolate-laden waffles, the list is never ending. Most of these foods have been termed 'unhealthy' because they don't do any good to our body and have zero nutritional value, and end up adding calories in your body. Eating junk and processed foods regularly may reduce our metabolism and contribute to a larger waist size.
(Also Read: Secret Food And Other Tips To Help You Cut Belly Fat)
2. You Are Doing Wrong Or No Work Out
If you think that cardio workouts alone can give you a fat tummy, then you are wrong. A daily run or yoga class are also important for a healthy heart and flat belly. A combination of weights and cardiovascular training could do the trick, in addition to specific exercises that target the upper belly. Strength training increases muscle mass, which further helps our body to burn more fat. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore, we burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle.
3. You Are Stressed
Stringent timelines, meetings, bills, traffic jams - whatever your source of stress is, having too much of it may result in excess belly fat, including the upper belly. Stress causes the body to secrete cortisol that forces the liver to release excess sugar, sometimes more than what the body requires to function, resulting in more visceral fat.
4. You Have An Erratic Sleep Cycle
Upper belly fat can also be caused due to lack of sleep or a poor sleep cycle. If you are one of those who sleep less than six hours a night, here is one simple way to shape your waistline: sleep for at least eight hours a night, it's that simple! According to various studies, it was found that those who slept six hours or less a night were more likely to gain weight than those who slept seven to eight hours a night. Enough sleep also makes sure you are more energetic through the day and less inclined to skip workout sessions!
5. You Are Getting Older (Sorry, But True!)
As we age, our body goes through numerous changes; we experience a declining metabolic rate. Various studies have shown that as we age, subcutaneous fat (below the skin) decreases and visceral fat increases. Visceral fat is an independent risk factor for many lifestyle diseases, including weight gain and the Buddha-belly mid-life waist.
(Also Read: 6 Indian Foods to Reduce Belly Fat)
Now, that we have gone through 5 reasons that could be leading to a bulkier upper belly, let us now look at 5 simple ways to reduce this flab.
How To Reduce Upper Belly Fat | 5 Ways To Get Rid Of Upper Belly Fat
If you are too stressed about tis weight, it is best to consult a certified expert, but do understand that you cannot dream of an overnight miracle. Small steps likes these may be a way forward.
1. Drink Water
Drinking enough water regularly can keep a lot of lifestyle diseases at bay. Instead of reaching out for soda or energy drinks, drink plain water. It is known to cleanse our body and flush out all the toxins, keeping us hydrated and in shape. Health Practitioner, Nutritionist and certified Macrobiotic Health Coach, Shilpa Arora, says, "Water therapy magically melts stubborn fat. A tough dehydrated body will not burn calories efficiently. This potent drink in the morning will reboot your body and kick start weight loss. Try this innocent yet very effective treatment, with no side effects."
2. Eat Foods That Beat Stress
You may find some of the most effective cures for anxiety right in your kitchen. When we talk about comfort foods, don't mistake them with those cheese-laden or chocolaty foods. Look for simple ingredients with helpful nutrients that are known to beat stress. Start your day with a bowl of oats and fresh fruits like banana (rich in vitamin C, a great stress-fighting nutrient) to keep your mood swings in place. Oats boost positive energy because they are serotonin enhancers; serotonin is a chemical that makes you happy. Better still, squash your stress with coconuts. Coconuts contain medium chain fats that improve our mental health and infuse positive energy. Similarly adding lentils to your diet will help reduce tiredness and fatigue. They are packed with all types of vitamin B, which is nicknamed as 'nature's own happy pill.'
3. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Having a healthy diet is also one of the major factors that can help you get back in shape. Eat frequently, but consume smaller meals rather than eating large meals and burdening the digestive system. Simply cutting down on your carb intake may not be sufficient. You also need to look out for the Glycaemic Index of various foods that you are eating. Bangalore-based Nutritionist, Dr. Anju Sood, explains the consequences of eating foods with a high glycaemic index, "It is a matter of how you mobilise the fat you consume, which will affect the visceral fat accumulation. Eating high glycaemic index foods will up your blood sugar levels suddenly. The excess sugar would eventually be stored as fat, and result in a bigger belly. Foods with low glycaemic index do not cause sudden sugar spikes; moreover, they delay your digestion and are also rich in fibre." Additionally, avoid oily and junk food like chips, baked products, cookies and sweets, and swap them with fresh fruits and vegetables salads.
4. Sleep At Least For Eight Hours
Lack of sleep slows down the metabolic activity of our body. The two hormones working in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us when to eat, and when we are sleep-deprived, our body produces more ghrelin; whereas, leptin is the hormone that tells us to stop eating. When a person is sleep deprived, s/he has less leptin in their body. According to Delhi-based Nutritionist, Dr. Rupali Datta, "You need eight hours of good quality sleep daily. People might argue that it is not essential, but sleep deprivation along with damaging your health, may also induce weight gain."
5. Exercise At Least Four Days A Week
Exercising is the best way to burn calories, build muscles and get rid of belly fat. We are not telling you it's going to be easy, we are telling you it's going to be worthwhile. Exercise for a minimum of 45 minutes, four days a week. You may consider hitting a gym, swimming, yoga, or simply brisk walking, the choice is yours!
So, there you have it, 10 important points to help you get rid of that excess upper belly fat.
In conclusion, if you want to lose upper belly fat, then start with changing your diet, drink more water, avoid stress, sleep for a minimum eight hours a night and exercise regularly. With some effort in understanding the reasons behind your weight gain, you will be able to achieve your desired fitness goals.
About Shubham BhatnagarYou can often find Shubham at a small authentic Chinese or Italian restaurant sampling exotic foods and sipping a glass of wine, but he will wolf down a plate of piping hot samosas with equal gusto. However, his love for homemade food trumps all.