Getting rid of belly fat can be a challenge, especially for those in the 35 to 45 age bracket. That’s the time when extra kilos creep up and accumulate around the waist. Fat stored in the waist area poses extra health risk for diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. According to the WHO, men with a waist more than 40 inches and women with a waist more than 35 inches, not only have a weight problem but also have increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Factors causing belly fat: The most common causes of fat storage in the tummy are hormonal imbalance, eating large quantities of food, excessive alcohol intake, sweets and chocolates and lack of exercise. Stress triggers secretion of the hormone called cortisol.
Excessive cortisol stimulates the storage of fat around the waist. The drop in estrogen levels due to menopause also causes fat storage. Improper digestion causes gastro problems leading to a persistently bloated belly. As we age, we don’t burn calories as efficiently, so a slower metabolism also initiates storage of fat around the midsection. Avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime to control belly fat.
Oat meal: Start your day with oats. They’re high in soluble fibre and low in fat. Cook in water or with skimmed milk.
Eggs: They provide good quality protein, which helps overcome hunger pangs.
Beans: Beans like chick peas, black chana, green moong, green chana are rich in fibre and proteins. They help you lose weight and improve muscle tone. To reduce the gassy effect, add ginger and asafoetida while cooking.
Barley: It is rich in soluble fibre, has a low glycemic index, and helps in reducing the waist circumference. Regular consumption reduces the risk of heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Vegetables: Most green vegetables have only 30-60 calories per 100 grams. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Eating vegetables for dinner without chapattis and rice helps in shrinking the waist size.
Green Tea: Tea contains polyphenolls and helps boost metabolism. Green tea is less processed and contains higher levels of antioxidants, and suppresses the appetite.
Milk: Non-fat milk has the same amount of calcium and protein as high-fat milk. It’s also low in sodium and helps prevent water retention. It reduces food cravings as it has a high protein content.
Tomatoes: They contain only 20 calories per 100 grams. They are rich in fibre, lycopene and potassium. They help prevent water retention, reduce bloating and improve bowel movements.
Yogurt: It’s rich in calcium and protein, low in calories (80 calories in a cup of low fat yogurt). It contains beneficial bacteria which help boost your immunity and improve bowel movements.
In addition to this — eating high protein foods like chicken, fish, paneer, tofu, soya milk helps you to stay full for longer periods, reduce your appetite and helps achieve a smaller waistline. To keep your body fit and belly flat, eat wisely, exercise regularly.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.
Email your health queries to email@example.com