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Health and Fitness News

Where’s Your Waist?

Find it again with a few simple dietary changes.

Visceral fat is what builds up around your mid-section. And if you have much of it, you should know that all fat is not created equal. Abdominal visceral fat makes it hard to zip your pants, gives you an apple shape, and is more dangerous than fat distributed to other parts of your body. As it surrounds your internal organs, visceral fat produces toxins that increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Don’t know if you have too much belly fat? If you’re a woman with a waist larger than 35 inches or a man with a waist greater than 40 inches, the answer is yes. And you’re at increased risk for serious health problems.

While exercise plays a major role in weight loss, diet is more effective. If you’re trying to keep your waistline in check, keep reading to find out what to include and exclude from your diet.

Fill Up with Fiber

High-fiber foods are your friends in the fight against unwanted fat. To make the most of them, aim to eat at least 10 grams of soluble fiber a day. Great sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

When you’re at the grocery store, choose any variety of beans including Great Northern, black, pinto, navy, or white. Look for cereals, breads, pastas, and rice made with whole grains. Apples, bananas, raspberries, oranges, mangoes, blueberries, and strawberries are high-fiber fruits and should be high on your priority list. And pick dark-colored vegetables. In most cases, darker vegetables have the higher fiber content. So go for beets, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, and artichokes.

Eat More Monounsaturated Fats

A second weapon in your fight against belly fat is monounsaturated fat. This type of healthy fat helps burn visceral fat and boost your metabolic rate so you burn more fat overall. You can get monounsaturated fat from almonds, peanuts, cashews, avocadoes, and cooking oils derived from plants or seeds. These include oils such as canola, soybean, olive, peanut, sunflower, rice bran, and sesame.

Pick High-Protein Foods

Multiple studies show a diet with plenty of protein is helpful for reducing belly fat and losing weight. When you eat a meal high in protein, you end up eating fewer calories overall, boosting your metabolism, and staying fuller longer.

But be careful and choose quality protein for the best results. You can get protein from bacon, steak, and whole milk, but healthier choices are fish, Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, and poultry. Adding a protein supplement or powder to your morning smoothie is another way to increase the amount of protein in your diet.

Skip the Soda

Sugar-sweetened sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, juices, and teas are common contributors to belly fat. Sugar is metabolized by the liver, but eat too much and it gets turned into fat around your liver and belly. Since it’s easy to consume more sugar-filled drinks than your liver can metabolize, eliminate them altogether. Instead, opt for water and unsweet tea as you seek to lose and maintain your weight.

Cut Back on Carbs

Carbs are needed for health, but you need to be picky about what kind of carbs you eat. Simple, refined carbs lead to weight gain, often around your middle. Avoid high-carb foods such as white breads, pasta, and cereals, candy, cookies, and cakes and get your carbs from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. When you reduce the amount of carbs you consume, your body will turn to your belly fat stores for its energy needs. Soon, that belly fat will be belly flat!