So you’ve put on a pound or two this winter. That’s not so bad, right? Thing is, the extra weight probably went straight to your waist, and that is where the trouble starts. Belly fat is the latest threat to your health. Study after study shows that it increases your risk of heart disease, hypertension, cancer and dementia. The guideline is for men to have a waist circumference less than 40 inches; women less than 35 inches. Why is it so dangerous? Belly fat, or visceral fat, lies deep in your abdomen, surrounds your organs and secretes toxic hormones. These contribute to the thickening of the walls of coronary blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease.
The liver, your body’s detox center, also seriously suffers if you have too much weight around the middle. When the liver gets infiltrated with this fat, it can have a harder time filtering out harmful substances. Even your muscles, which typically use up a lot of the sugar you take in, can become sluggish and slower in metabolizing overall sugar in your diet.
The good news? With the right fitness program and eating habits, you can reduce your midline, strengthen your core from the inside out and add years to your life! Below are my top tips for a stronger and more toned mid-section:
- Build muscle mass. During a cardio workout, your body zaps hundreds of calories, but your metabolism slows down almost instantly when you stop. After strength training, on the other hand, you burn fat for hours, or up your metabolism by 15%!
- Run from fat! Hit the road for 30-60 minutes of jogging. If this is not your thing, try interval training- constantly switching up the pace of your workout will help you burn more calories. Get together a group of friends for a 6-week Bootcamp program with Allegro- you’ll be amazed at the progress.
- Have a high protein breakfast. An egg-white omelet is a good choice, or try unsweetened Greek yogurt with fruit and honey or a piece of whole grain bread and low-fat cheese. The protein will help hold you over longer through the morning.
- Manage your Stress. Stress causes the body to start stockpiling fat in the gut. Your system thinks a crisis is coming and deposits fat cells into the belly because it is most convenient. Keep healthy snacks on hand such as almonds or dried fruit.
- Get your sleep. Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain. Research shows that when you are tired, the hormones that stimulate appetite increase, while the hormones that help you feel full plummet.
- Perform 3 core exercises after every workout. Do one basic move such as crunches on the ball, one for your obliques such as side planks, and one for the low back, such as Super man. Aim for 1-2 sets of 15-20 repetitions. This will challenge each core muscle group and improve overall function!