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The Dangers of Belly Fat and How to Get Rid of It

Written by Dana Yarn, RDLD

belly fatOne of the most common goals that I hear from most of my clients is they want to get rid of belly fat. There are even books with the sole purpose of getting rid of belly fat.  For years, scientists have observed that an apple-shaped figure or a big beer belly is a health risk. They have discovered that people with wide abdominal girths are more likely to have large amounts of deep-hidden belly fat around their organs. It might be the most hazardous kind of fat and could increase a person's risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.  This fat, which is called visceral or intra-abdominal fat, is linked to high cholesterol, high insulin, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and other health problems.  Men with a waistline above 40 inches and women with a waistline above 35 inches are at the highest risk. 

So, how do you get rid of this stuff?  Spot reducing with crunches and sit ups will not reduce belly fat; it will only make the muscle underneath belly fat stronger, which could actually make the belly look bigger.  Proper nutrition, weight loss and cardiovascular activity are the best way to reduce belly fat.  Performing 3-5 days of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise for 45 minutes or more per week will help promote reduction of abdominal fat.  Leisure walking for only 15-20 minutes a day is a great way to start if you are not already active, but you must keep increasing your intensity (pace) and the duration of your cardiovascular activity to see results.  Resistance training will also contribute to weight loss and increased muscle tone which speeds up the metabolism. 

There are several foods that have been linked to reducing belly fat.  Heart healthy fats including raw nuts, avocados, chia seeds, flax seeds and extra virgin olive oil help reduce appetite and promote a state of balance within the body.  When the body is nutritionally balanced this reduces the consumption of harmful saturated and Trans fats because cravings have been reduced.  Remember heart healthy fats DO NOT make you fat, processed foods and simple sugars will pack on the belly fat!  Grapefruit and 100% all natural grapefruit juice are also linked to reducing belly fat due to the fat burning and appetite suppressing properties in grapefruit.  Lean protein such as chicken breast, fish, or eggs should be included in most meals to keep you feeling full which will decrease cravings for foods that are high in simple sugars such as cookies, cakes, chips, etc.  The high fiber content of fruits and vegetables has been shown to increase the metabolism, which in turn reduces belly fat, fruits and vegetables should be consumed at every meal and snack.  When you are eating make sure your potions are under control, a good rule is to keep protein and carbohydrate servings approximately the size of your fist.  So, get active, eat clean, and look forward to the belly fat melting off!

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