From booze bulge to stress stomach – what your belly fat means and how to blast it
ARE your jeans straining at the waist after months of lockdown? You are not the only one.
But while your belly bulge could be the result of too many treats, it may not be that simple.
Usually trim Lucy Mecklenburgh opened up about her own tummy struggles[/caption]
Tubby tums can be caused by everything from stress and lack of sleep to changed hormones, so to lose the lard you need to find out which “tummy tribe” you belong to.
While there is no such thing as a perfect shape or size, too much fat around the middle really is bad for your health.
So it really does pay to slim.
Fitness Editor Jenny Francis and nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert look at different types of tums and how exercise, eat and drink can help slim them . . .
1. Corona belly
THIS is where your whole tummy protrudes outwards, almost replicating the shape of an early-stages pregnant belly.
THE CAUSE: Alcohol is full of calories – anywhere from 180 to 500 per drink – and when mixed with sugary carbonated mixers, it often results in gas building up in the stomach, or a “beer belly”.
MOVE TO BEAT IT: Exercise of any kind will help, but incorporating cardio into your regular workouts is a good bet.
Boxing is a great all-body cardio workout burning up to 800 calories an hour – that’s four large glasses of wine – depending on how hard you work.
TRY: Following boxing workouts online, investing in a punchbag or looking out for boxing classes when gyms re-open.
DRINK LESS TO BEAT IT: Stick to no more than 14 units of alcohol per week – that is six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine.
Rhiannon says: “There is an undeniable link between alcohol and putting on weight.
“So, if you’re looking to lose weight, learn to enjoy one or two drinks and then just stop.
“Drinking late at night can really affect your sleep and hormones and in turn cause sleep apnoea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns, all of which won’t help your waistline.”
2. Tubby belly
SO-CALLED love handles are the excess weight you carry in the pockets of fat around your hips, that can appear like a spare tyre.
THE CAUSE: Your body is storing excess fat – most likely, you have led a sedentary lifestyle and eaten an unbalanced diet. In short, you have consumed more calories than you have burned off.
MOVE TO BEAT IT: Any exercise will help but the key is regular movement.
The NHS recommends all adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, so aim for that.
For braver types, HIIT training – high-intensity interval training – is highly effective in reducing fat.
Studies show 20 minutes of HIIT exercise three times a week is as good to help shift the weight as 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
TRY: Forty-second sprints outside, as fast as you can, followed by 30 seconds’ rest.
Repeat this for 20 minutes.
EAT TO BEAT IT: First things first – the way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn off.
Rhiannon says: “Reducing your saturated-fat intake may be a good start, as this can lead to a build-up of visceral fat around the middle, close to the organs.
“A Mediterranean diet with lots of oily fish, olive oil, beans and pulses has been proven to increase your levels of good fat, known as HDL and lower levels of bad fat, known as LDL.”
3. Mummy belly
YOUR tummy is flabby and can often appear to form two separate pockets of fat either side of your belly button.
THE CAUSE: A wobbly belly or loose skin are completely natural – if unwanted – side effects of pregnancy.
But if you still look pregnant months or years after having your baby, you may have a condition called diastasis recti.
This is where the two long muscles that run down your middle – which separate when you are pregnant – do not close together again afterwards.
MOVE TO BEAT IT: Steer clear of abdominal crunches.
These exercises can worsen any post-childbirth abdominal separation.
Instead, wait at least six weeks then try programmes such as the NHS-recommended mum-tum workout MUTU (see mutusystem.co.uk) which is designed to knit together your deeper core muscles after giving birth.
‘DANGEROUS TIME TO DIET’
TRY: Pelvic-bridge exercises.
Lie on your back with knees bent.
Squeeze in your abs then tilt your pelvis upward and lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position.
Hold at the top then slowly lower down to starting position.
Repeat five to ten times.
EAT TO BEAT IT: Rhiannon says: “It takes nine months to grow a baby – and your tummy can’t go back overnight.
“But immediately after giving birth is a dangerous time to diet as your body needs energy for breastfeeding and coping with sleepless nights caused by your waking baby.
“If it’s been a year since you gave birth, a calorie deficit with a balanced diet is the best advice.”
4. Bloated belly
FROM the belly-button down, this bulge sits lower and protrudes out, rather than around your sides.
THE CAUSE: While some lower-belly fat is down to weight gain, bloating is often caused by hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle.
It affects most of us, even celebs like Lucy Mecklenburgh, who shared a snap of her bloated tum recently, are not immune.
About a week before your period, progesterone levels fall to allow the uterus to shed its lining.
This also causes the body to retain more water, making the tummy feel heavier and appear bigger.
MOVE TO BEAT IT: Yoga is great for water retention, as it improves blood circulation by stretching the muscles and nerves.
Search for home yoga videos on YouTube or try this move, Upward Facing Dog, to get started.
WATCH HOW YOU EAT
TRY: Lying face down on the floor, place the palms under the shoulders then push down until the hips lift slightly.
Stretch out the tummy by pushing the chest forward and slowly dropping the head backwards.
EAT TO BEAT IT: While you cannot help the time of the month, you can ease a bloated belly.
Cut down on salty, processed foods to tackle water retention, and try potassium-rich foods like bananas and spinach to counter the bloat.
And watch how you eat. Rhiannon says: “Chewing food correctly, without distraction, can minimise bloating.
“And limit your intake of gas-producing foods like beans and pulses, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and stop chewing sugar-free mints or gum.”
5. Junk belly
ROLLS of belly fat that tend to sit just above the belly button and also just underneath your boobs.
THE CAUSE: Carrying excess weight higher up can be a sign your gut health is not all it should be and the specific foods you are eating could be to blame.
Too much salt and processed foods can upset the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your stomach, resulting in weight gain.
Upper-belly fat can also be a sign you are not eating enough fibre.
MOVE TO BEAT IT: To get your digestive system ticking, take a brisk 30-minute walk or bike ride.
It helps raise your heart rate and boosts your metabolism.
You can also try some yoga stretches – they help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn helps to increase intestinal activity.
TRY: Lying on your back with legs stretched out in front of you, bring in your left knee and squeeze it close to your body with both hands.
BOOST GUT HEALTH
Slowly take your left arm off and stretch it out to the side while your right hand pulls the knee the opposite direction, taking you into a lying twist. Repeat on the other side.
EAT TO BEAT IT: Rhiannon says: “Eat a new vegetable every week to boost gut health and diversity of the gut microbiota.
“Your gut bacteria eat an incredible ten per cent of your overall food intake every day.
“Ensuring you have regular bowel movements is important. Try increasing the amount of fibre in your diet by incorporating wholegrains, vegetables and fruit.
“Higher fibre intake also helps with sustainable fat loss over time.”
6. Stress belly
SIMILAR to the corona belly, this is characterised by a few extra pounds at the front of your tummy.
THE CAUSE: If you are not a heavy drinker but still have this tummy shape, chances are it is down to stress.
Long-term chronic stress causes higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which in turn increases your level of insulin – the fat-storage hormone.
So even if you are eating healthily, your body will hold on to fat.
MOVES TO BEAT IT: Breathe correctly.
You can start to blitz this type of belly without moving from your sofa – the NHS suggests breathing exercises to help take the edge off a stressful day.
Combine them with regular brisk walks or bike rides for maximum gain.
TRY: Lie down and take a deep breath, into your belly then chest, breathing in through your nose and exhaling through the mouth.
Breathe in for five counts, and out for five.
Repeat for five minutes.
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EAT TO BEAT IT: Rhiannon says: “Your stomach is your second brain, constantly sending signals and interacting with your body.
“When we are stressed it doesn’t cope very well. It often contributes to problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
“Make sure you get good helpings of protein, carbs, veg and healthy fats with every meal, to help your gut bacteria.”
Lose 1lb a week the old-fashioned way
THE simplest way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit – burn more calories than you eat.
Keep a log of how many calories you eat and the exercise you do.
The MyFitnessPal app can help.
To maintain their weight, women need around 2,000 calories a day.
Typically, we burn 1,600 to 2,400 a day, depending on weight and activity levels.
If you eat 2,000 calories but burn 2,500 that day, you will run a 500-calorie deficit.
Research shows a 500-calorie deficit a day – through a combination of diet and exercise – will see the average woman lose a pound of fat per week.
- For more information, go to rhitrition.com
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