There are millions of people around the world struggling to lose excess belly fat, otherwise known as central or abdominal obesity, or middle aged-spread. Going it alone on your journey to optimal health and getting the body you want is not the best way to achieve your goals, but unfortunately many people write off a dislike for abdominal obesity as "vanity" or being "youth obsessed", as if it were a bad thing. However, one of the best ways to protect yourself against all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease, is actually to prevent or lose abdominal obesity! There are hundreds of clickbait ads with titles like "lose belly fat with this one weird tip", but where are the evidence-based methods, which do not cause side effects or computer viruses? Here are three of them:
Coconut Oil - The Fat that Fights Belly Fat
Unfortunately criticised for its saturated fat content, coconut oil may actually help you improve cardiovascular health and remove unwanted body fat. In a study of women who were all advised to walk for 50 minutes a day and follow a reduced-calorie diet, half were assigned to take 30mL of coconut oil every day, and half were given the same amount of soybean oil. The coconut oil group had a higher level of HDL cholesterol, and a higher HDL:LDL ratio after 12 weeks, compared to the soybean oil group, where these measurements worsened. While both groups lost weight, only the coconut oil group showed a reduction in waist circumference. This reflects the struggles of many, where standard diet and exercise fail to reduce belly fat - but "one weird trick" did for the group who received it.
Enriched Green Tea
Many supplement and health food companies have sold their own formulations of enriched green tea and green tea extracts, boasting a higher than usual amount of certain phytochemicals in tea. One type of phytochemical in green tea is known as the catechins. In a Chinese study, green tea preparations ranging in catechin content from 30mg to 886mg were randomised to 182 overweight volunteers. In the group taking the highest concentration of catechins, there was a reduction in intra-abdominal fat of 5.6 squared centimetres; in waist circumference of 1.9 centimetres and in weight of 1.2 kilograms.
Isoflavones are a different type of phytochemical, some of which are found in soybeans. Clinical research has found that they may be an effective aid in reducing belly fat, at least in post-menopausal women. In a small study, soy isoflavones were more effective than the placebo in reducing total and subcutaneous (under the skin) abdominal fat. Women taking soy isoflavones lost fat, while women in the placebo group continued to gain it. Visceral fat increased five times more in the placebo group compared to those taking isoflavones, but this was not seen as "statistically significant" (there was only an 82.3% chance that the difference was caused by the soy, while the cutoff for significance is 95% or above). Insulin sensitivity did not improve, but soy isoflavones should not be relied on as a sole intervention. There are also many dodgy soy foods out there, so stick to a practitioner-grade supplement or fermented, unprocessed (and preferably organic) food.
As stated above, these are just three ways to reduce unwanted belly fat, and improve your health and longevity. It is best to see a qualified naturopath, as sustained weight management requires a holistic, individualised treatment plan. If you would like to book a consultation with me, click here or visit my Facebook page.