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What causes the belly bulge? We know that plenty of exercise, eating fruits and veggies, cutting back on recreational eating can help reduce stubborn body fat but consider other more subtle underpinning reasons why you just can’t get those extra belly fat to disappear. Daily stress load, lack of sleep, and genetics may lead to extra pounds gained around the middle. There are plenty of reasons why your abdominal fat may be stubbornly sticking around. Here are some reasons why and how you can work to improve at any age.


Getting rid of your belly bulge is important for more than just vanity’s sake. Excess abdominal fat-particularly visceral fat, the kind that surrounds your organs and has your stomach looking like a pool float is a predictor of many long term health conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven’t done much to reduce your tummy, then your hormones, your age and other genetic factors may be the reason why.


Factoring in your age-  As you get older, your body changes how it gains and loses weight. Both men and women experience a declining metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body needs to function normally. In order to trigger metabolic functions that have gone into dormancy it’s important to understand the key functions of your metabolic process. But growing older does not have to put a complete damper on your health improvement goals if you can effectively stimulate your metabolism to higher levels of performance. There are three key elements in keeping the metabolism you once had when you were younger; activity through strength and performance, cleaner more balanced nutrition and stepping up conditioning levels by changing modes, intensity and duration. Pick a starting point that is an easy to achieve goal. If you have been doing nothing but sitting at a desk at the office you may need to start into a health regiment at a realistic starting point of taking a brisk walk around the block before heading off to work at the office. Anything that you are not used to doing as a daily routine will be a stimulus (metabolic signaler to begin shifting your dormant bodily functions into a higher gear. As you progress, you will need to incrementally increase the duration, the intensity, ie; holding hand held weights or ankle weights to add more resistance or change the exercise you were doing so that you have a new set of stimuli to enhance your body’s performance.


Adding variety to a workout can be just the thing which brings fun back into your game

Use a variety of workout programs
A daily run or power walking is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won’t do much for your waist. You need to do a combination of weight resistance exercises and cardiovascular training. Training the muscles helps utilize the natural fuel burning engines that burn calories. When the muscle is stimulated via exercise with weight resistance you will add vigor and vitality to neglected muscle zones. Training with weights not only burns calories but builds back core strength, and stamina that may have caused your metabolism to slow. Resistance training also helps improve skin tone by tightening and firming areas that may have been long since neglected. Increasing muscle mass and or muscular density for those who do not wish to build in size, sets your body up to burn more fat. Muscle can build more densely using higher reps and lighter weights. If muscle gain is what you are after drop the number of repetitions and add increments of higher weights s that your reach failure by the eight or tenth rep. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle. I recommend 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise, alternating between cardio and weight resistance or dividing the time equally to ensure a nice balance of physical performance.

processed foods

You’re eating too many processed foods-  Refined grains like white bread, crackers and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts and high level salty foods increase inflammation in our bodies. Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat. Natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat. By decreasing these toxins and non-nutritive foods you make room better choices but are also taking out foods that create craving. These foods can be highly addictive just look a drug you will think you need them and that is where the problem lies. You may have developed an addiction to needing high calorie sugars, fats and salt which makes you feel full. Many times, by removing these metabolic enemies you will become hungry more often. This is a good sign as you are reducing calories and switching to better foods that yield fewer calories but are better for your health.


 Not all fats are equal-  The body does not process all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat (aka; animal fats, the kind found in meat and dairy) to increased visceral fat. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats (fat sources found in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and if eaten in proper portions do your body good. But eating too much fat of any kind increases your calorie intake and could lead to weight gain, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation. It is important to understand that body burns either carbohydrates or fats at any given time but having both occur in large amounts at the same time of eating can cause the body to burn one or the other. Most adults lose their ability to process both body fules efficiently as we grow older. The fix to this problem is to eat only one fuel source or the other at different times during the day, preferably eating the carbohydrate based foods early in the day and healthy fats from the afternoon to early evening then not eating either at least 4 hours before sleep. This way you are sure to only eat what you can burn off before the next day starts.


Keeping the challenge in your exercise /weight loss program-  To really banish stubborn belly fat, you will frequently ramp up your workouts. If your daily routine seems to have put you in a plateau of losing weight and the scale has not budged each week, you will need to increase the adversity within your exercise and nutrition schedule. Bumping up the time and intensity to a workout is one way, but you can also set your caloric intake into a slight deficit. By taking away 100 calories from your diet each week you can slowly work into a lower calorie need and force your body to begin finding more efficient ways to perform under the positive stress of slight caloric deprivation. People with a high-intensity workout regimen will lose more belly fat than those who followed a low-intensity plan. Starting off with a conditioning level that is appropriate at low-intensity exercises then slowly graduating the levels of exercise you will experience significant changes by making it a step by step process. You need to exercise at whatever level makes you feel you are at full capacity. If there is no pain there is no gain sort of mentality, keeping in mind a realistic set of goals and pacing yourself toward them. The end goal is to burn more calories, and high intensity exercise does just that. High intensity workouts mean you’re going all out for as long as you can. If this sounds intimidating, think of it this way: you’ll burn more calories in less time.


No exercise is the wrong exercise but some are better than others-  Spot reducing does work but it can only happen when all variables in your health and nutrition have been addressed. You need stimulus to make the body change. You need to add stimulus after the body have become proficient at the level you began, Incremental change is necessary but sometimes change in the outcome only occurs by making real change within the structure of your routine. If it feels natural and habitual then more than likely it has also become stale. The body can only shift into a higher level of performance by focused and applied additional adversity.


Target those Abs correctly-  Doing crunches until the cows come home? It’s not the only answer! When you’re down to your final inches of belly fat, the dreaded crunch won’t be the exercise that finally reveals your six-pack. You can spot reduce. I suggest doing functional exercises that use the muscles in your core: abdominal, back, pelvic, obliques (aka, love handles) as well as other body parts. Exercises using only the core torso supporting muscles, so there is a higher burn in the trouble spot. Feeling the Burn was not something Bernie Sanders came up with. Its original meaning is one of positive change by working through adversity to create higher levels of performance within the body’s own natural hormonal and metabolic processes. By adding a focused set of exercises to this abdominal region, you can build the muscle engines stronger and burn more fuel that is just insulting under the skin in subcutaneous fat. I recommend planks, leg raises and suspended hips flexion as three safe and effective and functional exercises, they activate not just your core muscles but also your arm, leg and butt muscles.


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