If you’re trying to target areas for weight loss, you might meet your match in the form of stubborn belly fat. Here’s what you need to know before you try to trim it down.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND BELLY FAT
If you remember from our counting calories vs. macros infodump, an ounce of fat contains twice more calories—a.k.a. energy units—than an ounce of carbs. Though carbs are our body’s main energy source, when we run out of it, it turns to fat as a backup energy source. To turn fat into energy, the body breaks it down through a process called lipolysis.
Lipolysis is activated by chemicals known as catecholamines, which travel to fat cells and make them release their fatty acids for fuel. The thing is, not all fatty acids respond well to catecholamines due to a difference in fat cell receptors: alpha and beta. Beta receptors accommodate lipolysis, but alpha receptors hinder it. Unfortunately, belly fat generally contains more alpha receptors, making it more difficult to burn into energy.
When it isn’t converted into energy, fat stays to insulate your body, assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and keep your vital organs protected. This is all well and good until there’s too much: excessive fat can damage the very organs it’s meant to protect.
Many studies have linked excess belly weight to increased vulnerability to cardiovascular complications, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and even asthma. In some of these studies, large waists were associated to these health complications even if the subjects were of normal weight.
DO MEN BURN FAT FASTER THAN WOMEN?
Women, in particular, were shown to be more prone to health risks than men. Yes, ladies—horror of horrors: we’re more prone to retaining body fat than men. At first, anyway. This difference is whittled down to hormones. Men have more lean muscle tissue due to testosterone, and muscle burns more fat and increases metabolism. This is typically how they tend to lose weight faster than women.
A study on post-workout hormone behavior also showed that the hormone ghrelin (which tells your brain you’re hungry) increases significantly while the hormone leptin (which tells your brain you’re full) is suppressed in women after a workout. Translation: our body makes it harder to resist the post-workout snack. Ugh!
WHAT TO DO TO TONE THAT TUMMY
Not to worry—there’s still plenty you can do to combat excessive abdominal fat. These tips may be old news, but gentle reminders can be motivational. RIght?
1. GET PHYSICAL
HOW: If you want to lose weight and actually tighten protruding belly fat, you’ll need to amp up your workout routine. Try HIIT (high-intensity interval training), running, or even just skipping rope to help burn the fat, and complement it with resistance training to tone those muscles.
PRO-TIP: Note that you can’t actually target belly fat when you work out—you have to aim to reduce overall body fat. Performing ab exercises does strengthen your core, but you’re going to want to do full-body exercises regularly if you want to see that tummy-trimming progress.
TRY: Fitique Nutrition Booty Band Loop Resistance Bands, P599; SKLZ Speed Rope, P1,499
2. EAT METABOLISM-BOOSTING FOODS
HOW: You know the drill: vegetables, fruits, lots of fiber, and protein. Losing that belly fat isn’t about eating less: it’s about eating right (and complementing it with exercise!).
PRO-TIP: If you’re still not seeing results or if you want to advance to your #fitnessgoals a little faster, don’t be shy about seeking a little help: try introducing supplements to your meals. Protein supplements are great for helping you develop lean muscle mass. The most popular kind is sourced from milk (whey protein), but you can also find collagen, bone broth, and vegan options.
TRY: Wheyl Nutrition Co. Just Salted Chocolate Whey Protein (454g), P550; The Superfood Grocer Vegan Pea Protein Powder (454g), P900; Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein (25g), P180
3. MANAGE YOUR APPETITE
HOW: Slimming supplements are great for curbing your appetite and boosting your metabolism. These days, plenty of supplements are sourced from herbal medicines used for treating obesity, which have been found to be effective for weight loss.
PRO-TIP: Read the label on supplements very closely and always follow the proper dosage. While adding supplements is a win for your diet, consuming too much can mess with your body’s natural system—so stay healthy and keep within the recommended intake.
TRY: Fitique Nutrition Skinny Me 24-Hour Fat Burner, P1,614; Life Source Natural Fat Burner with Green Coffee Weight Loss Supplement, P599; MySlim Yerba Mate Capsules, P1,080; The Slim Firm Ultra Lean Drops, P3,300
HOW: Another way of managing a ferocious appetite is to make sure you aren’t sleep-deprived. Give your body the time it needs to rest and recuperate. Tuck your phone away an hour before going to bed and get those eight hours of sleep regularly!
TRY: Herbs of the Earth Melatonin+ Sleep Faster, P1,000, DoTerra Lavender Touch, P1,090
Here’s what it all comes down to: a moderately active lifestyle keeps you healthy. If you’re not aiming to lose weight or tone your tummy, your workout doesn’t have to be especially rigorous.
A daily half-hour walk, complemented with a balanced diet, is normally enough to maintain your current weight and reduce risk of health complications you definitely wouldn’t want to deal with in the future.
Take care of your body regularly, and with a little extra patience and effort, you might even get those abs you’ve been working for. Go get ‘em, girl!
To discover more about healthy living, visit our Wellness Tab.
For more cool stories and members-only perks, sign up for BeautyMNL!
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Instagram (@beautymnl).
Tweet us on Twitter (@beauty_MNL).
The BeautyMNL App is also available for iOS and Android! For Apple devices, download it on mobile here. For Android devices, download it on mobile here. Stay tuned for updates and app-exclusive promos!