Any survey of the body parts people are dissatisfied with will usually feature the stomach.
It's the main problem area for many men and women, as it's an easy place to put weight on and can be difficult to tone. But what are the health implications of increased belly fat, and how can we kick it to the curb for good?
An excess of abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, has been linked to many issues, such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammatory diseases, heart disease, stroke, higher risk of breast cancer, problems conceiving and high blood pressure. It is a particular worry, as this type of fat is inside the abdominal cavity and so is packed between many major organs, such as the stomach and liver. In fact, a large and hard belly can mean that the person's internal organs are encased in fat. Men are also more predisposed to visceral fat because female sex hormones cause fat to go to women's thighs and bottoms, rather than their stomachs. However, this changes after the menopause, probably because of lower oestrogen levels. This means: if your tummy is looking too big, you need to tackle it - but how? Exercise This is the most effective way to get your stomach under control. Many people who suffer from visceral fat are inactive, but unfortunately going for a leisurely stroll isn't going to cut it. You need to embark on a proper regime of aerobic exercise and push yourself enough to build up a sweat. That might be via power walking, running, bike riding or using the rowing machine. Whatever it is; just find something you enjoy and stick to it. To see real results, you need to work out for between 30 and 60 minutes, five days a week.
An excess of abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, has been linked to many issues, such as type 2 diabetes.
Many think sit-ups and crunches are the way to a slimmer stomach, but it's not really the case. While those core exercises will help you develop muscles, unfortunately you won't be able to see them unless you cut the layer of fat sitting on them.
A swift boost
Although you might set out with the best will in the world when it comes to changing your shape, it can be hard if you don't see results for a while. This is where TechnoShape comes in. It involves wearing a pressure chamber belt around your waist and stomach as you exercise, meaning that area is particularly targeted. The idea behind it is that when we exercise, we lose fat from the areas which have the best blood circulation. For many that's not the tummy - you can test this out by touching yours after a cardiovascular workout; you might find it's cold.
The TechnoShape belt stimulates blood flow around your abdomen, meaning the rate you lose weight there should speed up. We tested it out at the NKD Ambition gym in London, UK, and were surprised by the results. Most people do 12 40 minutes sessions over four weeks, but we crammed six into ten days. At the end we'd lost 4cm from the narrowest part of our body and 8cm overall. The change was visible, so this is a good option if you need to see results to spur you on.
You need to team your exercise regime with a good diet. It's time to wave goodbye to excess sugar and overly processed foods - if you stick to whole grains you'll really see a difference. Make sure you get at least five fruit and vegetable portions a day and concentrate on lean meat, fish and low-fat dairy. Oatmeal, almonds, berries and eggs are all thought to help keep flat stomachs too.
© Cover Media