Dr Zoe Williams discusses visceral fat on This Morning
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As individuals go through their middle years, the proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase – more so in women than men and the extra pounds tend to park themselves around the middle. Abdominal fat can be one of the hardest types of fat to shift, it sits around the waist and provides a store of energy, as well as protection for the surrounding organs.
Whilst small amounts of fat below the skin is normal and healthy, it is the visceral fat which surrounds the organs that can cause dangerous consequences, including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
David Wiener, Training Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics, said it’s essential to combat the midlife middle in order to keep these diseases at bay.
He offered six tips for tackling the midlife middle.
1. Stay hydrated
The benefits of keeping hydrated are endless as water is involved in almost every chemical reaction in the body.
David explained: “Drinking plenty of water can help to detoxify the body, reduce overall liquid calorie intake, suppress appetite, and burn calories. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fresh water daily. If you don’t like the taste, herbal teas are a great and tasty way of ensuring you stay hydrated.”
2. Reduce alcohol intake
While drinking small amounts of alcohol, in particular red wine, can have some health benefits, drinking too much can in fact harm both your health and waistline.
David said: “Recent studies indicate that drinking too much alcohol can encourage fat to be stored as visceral fat. Always aim to drink in moderation and stick to the recommended government guidelines of 14 units a week.
“A great way to ensure you are adhering to this is by choosing half pints, small cans, or single measures.”
3. Prioritise sleep
Sleep can have a huge impact on your weight loss.
David advised: “When an individual does not get enough sleep, this can impact hunger levels significantly. There are two hormones which affect appetite levels: ghrelin and leptin.
“When you don’t get enough sleep, the levels of ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) rises and the levels of leptin (the hormone responsible for making you feel full) drops.
“To ensure you are getting enough good quality sleep, switch off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime and try to get into bed earlier to maximise your resting hours.”
4. Exercise regularly
Cardio and HIIT training are essential if you want to combat the midlife middle, said David.
He continued: “High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, is one of the best ways to lose belly fat in a short time. Interval training is a great way to increase your fitness levels and calorie burn and it’s performed by alternating intense periods of physical activity with short periods of rest so that your body can recover briefly before you up the intensity again. Not only is this style of working out a great time saver, its brilliant for building endurance and boosting the metabolism.
“A full body HIIT workout needn’t be longer than 15 minutes, and who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare? If you’re not sure where to start, Freeletics (www.freeletics.com) has recently launched a 15-minute Training Journey which offers six weeks of 15-minute bodyweight only workouts which can be done anytime, anywhere and with no equipment.”
5. Cut down on sugar
A diet high in sugar can have a particularly harmful effect on your midlife middle, as sugar is converted into glucose and pushed into the blood to be stored in both the liver and midsection.
David said: “Try to eliminate artificial sugars such as biscuits, cakes, and sweets, saving them for special occasions. If you’re craving a sweet treat, opt for a snack such as sliced bananas drizzled with nut butter or make your own yoghurt bark by mixing Greek yoghurt with a selection of berries and freezing for a few hours.”
6. Eating more protein
Eating a diet which is high in protein is an extremely important factor when trying to lose weight, especially belly fat.
David explained: “High protein intake will make you feel more satiated and over a long period of time, can mean that your appetite will decrease. As well as this, eating the correct amount of protein ensures you are retaining muscle mass during your weight loss journey.
“It can be hard to lose weight without losing muscle, but one way to maintain this is by eating enough protein. Good protein sources to include in every meal could include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, beans.”
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