Whether you’re male or female, having a slim waist makes you look and feel great, but the benefits of maintaining a smaller waistline go far beyond the superficial.
Numerous studies have shown that belly fat is linked to an increased risk of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Getting a smaller waist can help promote blood flow, enhance sleep quality and improve the functioning of blood vessels.
While you can’t ‘target’ body fat around the stomach, losing weight will shrink your waistline and, more importantly, reduce visceral fat levels. This harmful fat increases your risk of developing chronic disease and affects your longevity potential.
What is belly fat and why does it matter?
There are two types of belly fat. The first type is a ‘subcutaneous’ kind, which, although unsightly, is not harmful. However, the second type, ‘visceral’, can cause serious health problems because it lies much deeper inside your body.
Visceral fat can cause health conditions like:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
High levels of cholesterol
Studies have also shown an association between visceral fat around the waist and an increase in premature death. Furthermore, some studies have concluded that women who were considered ‘healthy’ on the BMI chart were still far from physical fitness and at risk of premature death due to high levels of belly fat.
How to get a smaller waist: six ways
Now that you’ve seen the dangers of carrying excess body fat around your waist, let’s look at six of the most effective ways to help you eliminate it.
1Banish the carbs, not the fat
Researchers at John Hopkins looked at the effectiveness of a low-carb diet compared to a low-fat diet for cutting fat. Over six months, participants were given an identical amount of calories. At the end of the six months, the low-carb group lost 28.9 lbs, while the low-fat group lost 18.7 lbs, a 10 lb difference.
When you lose body weight, you’re also at risk of losing lean muscle, which is less than desirable. Furthermore, the low-carb diet produced a significantly higher amount of quality weight loss.
The higher quality of fat loss indicates a low-carb diet is much more effective at shredding fat while maintaining fitness and lean muscle mass.
2Regular daily aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways to get a smaller waist. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise is not only an excellent way to burn calories and maintain physical fitness but can also reduce your levels of stress and anxiety.
Research is mixed when it comes to the effectiveness of high-intensity training or moderate-to-light training. However, the research is clear that the frequency and duration of your aerobic sessions are much more important than their intensity.
3Practice stress-reducing activities
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to an increase in body fat, particularly visceral kind.
Many people have turned to calming strategies and activities such as deep breathing and yoga to combat the release of cortisol. How to de-stress? Here are some of the best ways:
Listening to music or audiobooks
Exercises such as cycling and walking
Spending time with family and friends
Another factor that people can overlook is that when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to ‘binge eat’, which can lead to a bigger stomach.
4Focus on getting quality sleep
We all know the importance of getting a good night’s rest, but how many know the critical role sleep plays in slimming your waistline? Numerous studies have shown that people with poor sleep patterns are much more likely to gain excessive weight.
Another study that included 68,000 participants compared those who slept 5 hours per night to those who slept 7 hours. Researchers concluded that the group who slept five hours a night was significantly more likely to gain extra around the midsection.
In short, ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night to help mitigate the chance of gaining unwanted weight.
5Strength training shreds fat
Strength training or ‘resistance training’ is known for building muscle mass, but did you know it’s also one of the best ways to get a smaller waistline? One study that looked at people with type 2 diabetes showed that weight training effectively lost fat, particularly around the waist.
Some studies suggest combining aerobic training with weight training is the most effective way to lose fat, including harmful visceral fat from around the abdomen.
This kind of training can be challenging for newcomers, so before starting a resistance training program, please seek the advice of a qualified trainer.
6Cut back on the alcohol
While drinking small amounts of alcohol has positive health benefits, those benefits can quickly turn harmful by excess drinking. Studies show a clear link between excessive alcohol consumption and a larger waistline. These studies also show that drinking too much can cause increases in obesity, which is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Another study involving 2,000 participants concluded that those who drank one glass daily had significantly lower fat levels than those who drank less often but consumed more total alcohol for the week.
You don’t have to cut your alcohol consumption altogether, but limiting yourself to one glass daily is highly recommended.
Healthhack from Healthypedia
When trying to get a smaller waistline, it is important that you give the plan ample time to work. Far too many people become discouraged after a few weeks because they don’t see any ‘visible’ results of their fitness improvements. We recommend giving your plan at least four weeks to start seeing some benefits before deciding to move on to another diet and exercise program.
Fun & curious facts
The average human body contains 50 billion fat cells
On average, fat cells can live up to 10 years
Fat is responsible for healthy hair and skin because it helps absorb vitamins A, D, K, and E.
Did you know you can never get rid of fat cells? You can only shrink them.
Let’s sum up
A smaller waistline might be one of the keys to better healthspan and longevity. Aim for gradual fat loss and look to build sustainable habits that help you keep the unwanted weight off. Remember to incorporate a healthy eating plan, regular daily exercise, and adequate levels of sleep. Oh, and don’t forget to de-stress.
Hungry for knowledge? Here is more
In this video, Dr. Eric Berg, a popular nutritionist and expert on healthy ketosis & intermittent fasting explains what food will help you to lose unwanted pounds and get a smaller waistline. Watch this to find out what is the #1 product for a trim waist.
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