Weight loss: Why sleep could be the key to shedding belly fat

Sleep is important for many reasons and can solve many problems. Lack of sleep could be one of the reasons why slimmers find it hard to lose belly fat and fixing your sleeping routine could help you boost weight loss results. A nutritionist has revealed top tips on how to lose belly fat and why it is dangerous.

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Nutritionist and weight loss specialist Kim Pearson told the Express.co.uk: “Many women and men struggle with weight gain around the middle and find it increasingly hard to tackle over time.

“The problem with storing excess fat around the middle isn’t just how it affects our confidence or how our clothes fit…It is also very harmful to health as it can increase our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stoke.”

Kim explains how excess belly fat can be dangerous and it is more dangerous than other types of fat.

It is also one of the hardest places to lose weight even with exercise and dieting.

She says: “Visceral or intra-abdominal fat sits under the abdominal wall, which means that it surrounds vital organs like our liver, stomach and intestines.

“It’s more dangerous than other types of fat because it produces inflammatory cytokines that can trigger low-level systemic inflammation. This is linked to an increased risk of diseases and faster ageing.

“Using a waist circumference measurement, which can be taken easily with a tape measure, is generally the best way to check your health in this area. Regardless of your height or BMI, you should look to lose weight if your weight is greater than 94cm for men and 80cm for women.”

The nutritionist shares her top seven tips on tackling belly fat and how to lose weight.

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Optimise your diet

Kim says: “The first thing to do to tackle belly fat long-term is to work on improving your diet. Focus on whole, minimally processed foods.

“Limit your intake of sugar and starchy carbohydrates and base all your meals around a protein source, moderate amounts of healthy fats and a variety of different coloured vegetables.

“Keeping a food diary can be a great way to assess what aspects of your diet are working well, and what you could benefit from improving.”

Do a fast mimicking diet three times a year

The nutritionist explains: “Ignore fad diets and gimmicks and opt for a scientifically backed way to reduce your visceral fat.

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“Fast mimicking diets (FMDs) are a scientifically proven way to reduce intra-abdominal fat. With my clients looking to tackle abdominal fat, I find this a particularly effective strategy with results reflected on their body composition analyses.

“In fact, you will struggle to find a dietary strategy that targets visceral fat so effectively.”

Find ways to address stress

Kim says: “Stress can cause you to eat more and studies show that elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause increased fat storage around the middle, so work on reducing your stress.

“A 10-minute daily meditation practise and deep breathing when you’re feeling stressed are a good place to start.”

Get enough sleep

The nutritionist explains: “Lack of sleep in adults can sabotage weight loss and has been linked to increased visceral fat.

“Aim for eight hours a night. Improve your chances of getting a good night rest by avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, going to bed at the same time each night, and implementing a relaxing, screen-free-pre-bedtime ritual.”

Don’t smoke

Kim says: “Aside from the obvious negative impact on lung health and skin ageing, studies have linked smoking to increased abdominal fat storage. If you’re ready to quit, ask your doctor for help, or try hypnosis.”

Minimise booze

The nutritionist explains: “It’s called ‘beer belly’ for a reason and cutting down on alcohol will help you tackle abdominal weight gain, as well as having health benefits.

“Know your units and track how much you’re drinking by writing it down or recording it in an app. You might be surprised to learn just how much you’re drinking in a typical week. Better still, take a break from alcohol altogether.”

Exercise

Kim explains: “Work on burning that fat! I don’t advise extremely intensive exercise which can actually further trigger cortisol.

“Rather opt for moderate daily activity such as strength training, brisk walks and bike rides. Find something you enjoy and you’re much more likely to stick to it long term.”

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