What are the good diets to lose belly fat? Diet and physical activity are of great importance for weight and the development of overweight and obesity. But how does it affect the distribution of fat on the body?
The composition of the diet can be important for the distribution of fat on the body.
New studies suggest that having a healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, and fish, is associated with both less weight gain over time, and less of the harmful fat around the stomach, liver, and heart.
Different types of body fat
Overweight and obesity are usually defined by the body mass index (or Body Mass Index), which is a function of body weight and height. A body mass index of 30 or more is considered obesity (for example, if you are 1.8 m tall and weigh 100 kilos). Obesity is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer.
However, the body mass index does not say anything about where on the body the fat is stored. Some may be quite slim but have a high percentage of fat stored in the heart, liver, or muscles. This is called “ectopic fat” and is associated with fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. Fat stored around the abdomen is called “belly fat” or “visceral fat”. This is more associated with metabolic disorders than fat in the lower body.
Measuring waist circumference with a measuring tape is one indicator of belly fat. According to the World Health Organization, the waist width should preferably be below 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women, while a waist width of or above 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women indicates a high risk of comorbidities.
Less belly fat among people who eat healthily
In a large survey of healthy people around the age of 60 with different ethnic backgrounds.
The diet that was defined as healthy in the study is very similar to what we and the health authorities recommend.
Good Diets To Lose Belly Fat
This diet consisted of a lot:
- whole-grain products (such as oatmeal and wholemeal bread)
- nuts and kernels
- legumes (such as beans, lentils, and soy)
And limited quantities:
- alcohol (up to about 1 glass of wine)
- sugary drink
- red and processed meat
And in addition a high proportion of unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat.
Those who had a healthier diet had lower body mass index, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, less inflammation, and better insulin sensitivity. In addition, they had less body fat, both in the liver, heart, and abdomen (measured by CT scan, a form of X-ray).
In the case of specific foods, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, in particular, were associated with less liver fat, while whole grains, a high proportion of unsaturated fats, and low saturated fats were associated with less fat in and around the abdomen.
The results may indicate that the composition of the diet may be important for the distribution of fat on the body. This is in line with other studies that have, among other things, examined the connection between belly fat and following the health authorities’ dietary advice.
Mediterranean diet associated with lower waistline
Several studies have also shown that the Mediterranean diet, which also has a lot of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, fish, nuts, and olive oil as well as low in saturated fat and red meat, can be particularly beneficial for the waist measurement. The largest study consisted of almost half a million people from 10 countries in Europe. Those who ate the most in line with a healthy Mediterranean diet had a lower life span than those who followed this diet the least. This connection applied in particular to people from Northern Europe.
It has also been found that a Mediterranean diet — rich in cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes, fish, olive oil, and nuts — can minimize increases in waist circumference and the risk of developing abdominal obesity over time.
Nordic dietary advice
In all these studies, there was a direct relationship between diet and waist circumference or abdominal obesity that was independent of physical activity and other healthy living habits. However, diet and physical activity were only examined with questionnaires, which does not give a completely accurate picture. However, more controlled studies have confirmed that adopting a healthier diet is beneficial for life expectancy.
In a study, 181 men and women with obesity were put on a diet that was either in line with the Nordic authorities’ recommendations or a less healthy, typical Danish diet, for 26 weeks. Compared to the regular diet, they doubled the intake of fruit and vegetables on the recommended, “Nordic” diet. They could eat as much as they wanted and the goal was not to lose weight. Nevertheless, the participants lost almost 5 kilos by following the recommended diet. They also gained less body fat and an average of 4 cm lower waist.
Both exercise and diet reduce abdominal obesity
In addition to diet, exercise, especially cardio, has a good effect on abdominal fat among the overweight. Studies of overweight people have shown that cardio training reduces belly fat as much as going on a low-calorie diet, although diets lead to greater weight loss than exercise alone. This may be because exercise maintains more of the muscle mass.
One of the most important things you can do if you have COPD is to be physically active.
Physical activity also appears to counteract increases in waist circumference over time, although it does not necessarily protect against increased body weight.
Equal effect of low-carb and low-fat diets
A recent large study from Israel showed that people who followed a Mediterranean-like diet low in carbohydrates for 18 months reduced belly fat as much as those who followed a low-fat diet with a normal carbohydrate content. In this study, it was the training that determined how much belly fat they got rid of.
Although those on the low-carb diet ate more fat, most of the fat was of the unsaturated type, coming mainly from walnuts and olive oil. On the other hand, they ate less butter and hard margarine, which are sources of saturated fat.
In a larger study, with obese people from the USA, belly fat was also reduced by the same amount of four types of diets with a different distribution of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
It seems to others that it is the sum of the calories you eat and burn that matters most.
Good Diets To Lose Belly Fat by Jack Michael