More than half of Americans (54 percent) have serious belly pooch, which officially is known as abdominal obesity (a waistline of more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men).[i]
In the last 12 years alone, the average waist size in the US expanded two inches for women and one inch for men – an increase that’s far from just aesthetic.
If you carry most of your weight around your middle, you’re going to be at a higher risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer than someone who carries their weight more evenly distributed or in their hips – even if you weigh the same.
Belly fat is linked with increased visceral fat, which is the type of fat that can build up deep in your body, around your organs. Northwestern University obesity specialist Dr. Lisa Neff told CBS News:[ii]
“Compared with fat that lies closer to the surface, this “visceral” fat secretes lower levels of beneficial hormones and higher levels of inflammatory substances linked to obesity-related ailments.”
Belly fat can feel like the most stubborn fat when it comes to losing weight, especially if you have a naturally apple-shaped body, but there are strategies that work …
Bust Your Belly Pooch: 5 Top Ways
5. Sleep Enough (but Not Too Much)
The stress hormone cortisol promotes storage of fat in your belly. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces excess cortisol as well that can, subsequently, make your belly bigger. Research shows that sleeping either too little (fewer than five hours per night) or too much (more than eight hours) is associated with higher concentrations of abdominal fat.[iii]
4. Ditch Processed Foods
They’re loaded with refined carbs, and research shows sticking with a diet with no more than 43 percent calories from carbohydrates (and about 39 percent calories from fat and 18 percent protein) may help you lose deep belly fat and total body fat.[iv] Be sure you’re eating plenty of fiber, too, as soluble fiber intake (found in foods like oatmeal, beans, nuts, seeds, blueberries, apples and carrots) is associated with decreased visceral fat.[v]
3. Chill Out
“… chronically high levels of stress can alter the main fuel your body uses, turning it into more of a sugar burner than a fat burner. It can also stimulate the growth of visceral or belly fat, and increase the breakdown of muscle tissue.
… High cortisol levels suppress the release of serotonin and melatonin, causing cravings for junk food and insomnia respectively. Increased cortisol levels also stimulate extended periods of the insulin response. During those periods of time fat-burn is inhibited, and is instead being created. This is when stubborn belly fat is formed.”
2. Do High-Intensity Exercise
Exercise is crucial for helping your body burn fat, but research shows that the intensity of the exercise matters when it comes to burning abdominal visceral fat (the worst kind). In one study, high-intensity exercise significantly reduced total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and abdominal visceral fat while low-intensity exercise did not.[vii]
(Check out The NO Excuse Workout for one of the best high intensity workouts.) \
1. Rev Up Your Body’s Youth Hormones
After the age of 20, your body’s spontaneous release of human growth hormone (HGH, or “youth hormones”) declines by about 14 percent. Research shows that postmenopausal women who received twice-daily injections of HGH had decreases in abdominal visceral fat (along with improved physical performance), after three months.[viii]
I don’t recommend these synthetic injections. They’re very expensive, for starters, but more importantly they may interfere with your body’s natural HGH production, and have been linked with side effects, including a potential increased risk of death.[ix] Not to mention, using synthetic HGH for anti-aging purposes is currently illegal.
Personally, what I do instead is ramp up my body’s production of natural HGH using a special blend of essential vitamins and amino acids, called ThinMist.