Let’s face it, when most people say they want to lose weight what they really mean is, they want to lose weight around their middle.
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Your waistline tends to be the part of your body that grows the most when you put on weight and you notice it more too – trousers or skirts feel tighter, blouses and T-shirts ‘sit’ on top of you and, if you run, you feel the wobble there more than anywhere else.
So it’s good news that there are things you can do to focus on that middle area. Here are eight of the best.
1. Why walking helps tighten your waistline
Walking is one of the simplest and easiest forms of exercise and luckily it’s also a great way to tighten up that waistline. Research shows that if you can walk briskly for 45 minutes or more, your body begins to burn your fat reserves – and most of your reserve fat is stored around your middle.
Find out how to walk your way to better health
2. The simple food swaps that help reduce belly fat
A lot of the belly-fattening foods we eat come in the form of small add-ons to food – marinades, sauces, dressings and so on – so target these in your diet, as well as looking at overall calorie intake, to shrink your belly. So instead of butter on pasta, use olive oil; instead of mayonnaise, use creamy avocado; swap low-fat yogurt for cream with fruit; add nuts like walnuts or pine nuts instead of cheese to liven up pasta dishes and pizza, and so on.
Read our guide to fat-burning foods
3. Keep moving to fight fat
Sitting around for long periods of time makes your abdominal muscles weak and makes you put on weight without even trying, so become a fidget. Pace when you take or make phone calls, try using your computer on a higher surface so you can stand, moving from one foot to the other, while you check your emails, and sit on a Swiss ball while you watch TV. Even if you sit still on a Swiss ball your core muscles are constantly working to maintain balance, meaning you’ll be burning fat.
Discover these gym-free fitness tricks
4. Take up yoga to beat belly fat
It’s not the most obvious type of exercise to take up if you want to lose weight but perhaps that’s why it’s effective: you’re more likely to stick to something if you enjoy it and yoga not only helps you lose weight, it makes you feel good overall. By lowering your stress levels, yoga also reduces your blood cortisol levels (stress hormones) which are linked with putting on weight around your middle.
Learn more about yoga and how it can boost your health
5. How vinegar helps fight belly fat
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. found that obese patients who ate a tablespoon of vinegar daily for eight weeks decreased their levels of visceral body fat, the most unhealthy kind of fat. Researchers aren’t yet sure why this benefit occurs, but if you put vinegar in a low-fat dressing or sprinkle it on some oven-baked potatoes, it can only be good!
Our diet expert reveals the strange weight loss tips that just might work
6. Sleep, sleep, sleep for a flatter stomach
Numerous studies have linked lack of sleep with excess weight, so make sure you get enough each night. Wear ear plugs if noise bothers you or play a white noise CD, make sure light from outside can’t bother you, and avoid watching TV for an hour before bedtime as the light emitted from it can make it more difficult to sleep afterwards.
Need more sleep? Read our guide to getting better sleep
7. Eat more low-GI food to whittle your waist
When you eat foods that spike your blood sugar levels, cortisol is released and this is linked with excess belly fat. So stick to low-GI foods like beans, lentils and wholegrains, rather than potatoes, white rice or pasta, to make sure your cortisol levels remain normal.
8 foods that help regulate blood sugar
8. Eat cheese to banish belly fat
Okay, not too much high-fat cheese but some low-fat cheese, or yogurt, or skimmed milk may help you banish the belly fat. That’s because if your body doesn’t have enough calcium it starts to store more body fat. Make sure you get at least 700mg of calcium per day to avoid that happening.
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