Many struggle with belly fat and it could be that you doing it all wrong. According to the Harvard Medical School, fat stored around our abdomen increases our risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and hypertension.
We bust 5 dieting fallacies, and how to target them head-on.
1. Abdominal exercises
Myth: “Doing lots of abdominal exercises will get rid of my flabby tummy.”
Fact: Sadly, it doesn’t matter how hard you train your abs, if there’s a thick layer of fat over them, you just can’t see the muscle. To lose body fat, try compound exercises – which involve more than one muscle (e.g. squats, lunges, press-ups) – combined with interval training for a cardio blast.
2. Floor workouts
Myth: “Yoga isn’t fat-burning.”
Fact: The right kind of yoga – one that focuses on building strength, like vinyasa flow yoga – is a great fat blaster! Plus, you’ll tone up all over, gain more flexibility and work your core muscles. The trick is to use a combination of positions that target specific areas. Health writer Carla McKay followed a study in the US on the effects of yoga. She says the study followed more than 15 000 men and women aged between 53 and 57. “Those who started out overweight but did at least one session of yoga a week lost about 3kg, while those who didn’t gained almost 6kg.”
3. Burning zone
Myth: “Working in the ‘fat-burning zone’ will slim me down.”
Fact: The ‘fat-burning zone’ is just a myth. There is a zone of activity in which your body uses fat most for fuel, but this doesn’t equate with more fat being burnt off. Why would it be ‘better’ for your body, and for fat loss, for you to work less hard in the ‘fat-burning’ zone than you would in the more intense ‘cardio zone’? Bottom line: the harder you work, the more fat you’ll lose.
4. Its genetic
Myth: “It’s not my diet, I’m just unlucky.”
Fact: Oh no, you don’t! This one just doesn’t wash. While people have a tendency to store fat in different places, it is still possible to get it off with the right nutrition and exercise regime. In particular, the love handles at the sides of the belly are associated with a diet heavy in refined carbohydrates (like white bread and white pasta) and refined sugar (biscuits, cakes, chocolate and all the yummy things we hate to love). Instead, opt for high-fibre and high-protein foods like porridge or whole meal bread, which look bigger on the plate without extra calories.
5. Eating less
Myth: “Starving myself will help me lose more weight.”
Fact: If you’re trying to lose fat, this is the worst thing you can do. Ideally, you’d eat five to six small meals a day, with a portion of protein in each one, to keep your metabolism stoked. If you’re often out to dinner, try to eat three balanced meals a day with two snacks in between.