Abs and More
A post from our nutritionist, Samreedhi
One of the most asked questions among weight-managers is “How do I reduce belly fat?”
Most of us think that losing a few inches on the tummy is just a matter of doing abdominal specific exercises. However, dropping a few inches and toning the ab muscles is mostly a combination of various factors, from what you eat to the kind of exercises you incorporate, your posture and sometimes even what you wear!
Reducing fat especially from the belly area is usually an outcome of overall body fat reduction, for which you need to burn more calories than you consume. And that’s why, spot fat reduction techniques such as doing only ab crunches seldom show results soon, because by doing that you’re exercising only a few muscle groups. Instead, if your approach is to reduce overall body fat by exercising and eating a well-balanced diet (and thereby burning more calories than you consume), fat reduction from the belly area will follow as a natural outcome, if you’re a healthy individual with no medical conditions such as thyroid or hormonal problems.
Ab fact: Did you know our body is programmed in such a way that the areas where we put on weight first, are the areas we lose weight from last? Most of us are either apple shaped i.e. we gain weight more easily on the upper half of the body and the abs OR we are pear shaped i.e. we gain weight more easily on the lower body and abs.
5 diet changes that would help reduce fat: Eating right is as important as exercise if you are looking at reducing your waistline.
1. Reduce your portion sizes: Reducing calories does not have to mean giving up food. You can achieve the same by just eating the same food in lesser quantities. Do not try to drastically cut down portions overnight. Give yourself a few days to be able to control your appetite by gradually reducing your quantities.
2. Increase your fibre intake: You can increase your fibre intake by adding more vegetables in the form of soups, broths and salads, by adding more of cereals made with whole grain and pulses and 1-2 fruits a day. Fibre may give you a feeling of fullness which helps you cut back on your portions and it also helps to facilitate fat loss and make it unavailable to your body.
3. Reduce your sodium intake: Eating excess salt may cause bloating and water retention especially on the abs. Cut back on high sodium foods and most importantly avoid adding excess salt to your food while eating.
4. Drink water: Drinking at least 1-1.5 litres of water per day is advised to keep you hydrated. A lot of times when you are dehydrated your body can mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking sufficient water helps you feel full.
5. Eat frequent meals: Another way to cut back on calories is to actually eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours. Not only does this help boost metabolism but it makes you less hungry at meal times and gives you better control on your cravings.
3 exercise tips for your abs:
Cardio is essential: While most of us believe that only crunches are the answer to flatter abs, following a healthy, low fat diet accompanied with regular cardio exercise actually helps burn fat overall and on the abs. Just brisk walking or running or even cycling 4-5 times a week for 45-50 minutes can help you drop stubborn inches from your abs.
There is no such thing as spot reduction: Just concentrating on exercises for the abs will not help to lose inches from the abs, it is a combination of a long term, well-balanced long term diet and dedicated cardio along with full body toning that usually does the trick.
Tone the muscle: Doing regular crunches alone cannot help cut back inches; however, this will definitely tone your ab muscles which in turn will give you a more compact midsection.
So get moving, get active and eat nutrient dense foods that keep you going through your day!
Samreedhi Goel is the consulting nutritionist for Kellogg India Private Limited.
She has been running her exercise studio Size Wise in Mumbai since 1999, and has helped thousands of people get into shape. Samreedhi prescribes a Zig Zag diet, the basis of which is carb cycling, which is a diet plan that has a mix of high carb & low carb days.