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Manage Your Middle

In a recent poll, both men and women named their waist as their least favorite body part, but being able to pinch an inch (or two or three) is more than a problem of vanity. The flab that settles around your middle is often visceral fat, a type that lurks deep in the abdomen. It surrounds organs and produces hormones that may raise your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fortunately, studies show you can target it directly. Lose the belly bulge with these easy lifestyle changes.

Use Your Bean

Legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts) are full of soluble fiber, and researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center recently discovered that for every 10 grams you eat a day, you slow your visceral fat accumulation by about 4 percent over five years. Besides black beans (5 grams per cup), other good fiber sources include brussels sprouts (4 grams per cup), sweet potatoes (4 grams per cup), dried figs (3 grams in three figs), and oranges (2 grams per small fruit).

Try a Stress-Busting Workout

Aerobic exercise delivers a one-two punch to deep abdominal fat. It burns more of it than resistance training (which mostly targets the layer just under the skin), according to a study at Duke University Medical Center. Plus, it lowers cortisol levels; too much of this stress hormone shifts fat storage to your belly. Take cardio's stress-busting component a step further by trying Cy-Yo, a combination of cycling and yoga. For more info, visit cy-yo.com.

Take a Break

Whether it's deep breathing or walking, relaxing activities that make you feel in tune with your body can help fight belly fat, shows a study from the University of California, San Francisco. Scientists say that anxiety can raise insulin levels and cause you to eat foods high in sugar and fat, both of which add pounds to your middle.

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