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You want to be healthy. That’s a fact. And losing excess body fat including belly fat is a great way to do that. It also has the added benefit of making you look the best you have in a long time.
Even a 5% drop in weight can significantly lower the risks of developing diseases like diabetes and hypertension1.
But how to lose belly fat? Unfortunately, the internet is rife with misinformation. Everyone and anyone with an opinion can put it out there. From “I tried this and it works” advice from friends & family to charismatic social media stars with chiseled bodies claiming to have the latest quick-fix.
The result? Confusion, frustration and in some cases harm for those who experiment with the latest magic solution. Too much energy is spent on the wrong things. In this article, we set out 5 rules that you should be focusing on. They’re backed by science and will help you get closer to your weight loss goal.
The main question facing almost every weight-watcher is the circumference of their waist. Even though you can shed off kilos from different regions on your body, losing stubborn belly fat can seem like an impossible task. But this does not need to be the case. We’ve helped thousands of people lose stubborn belly fat in theDaily9 coaching programme and we can show you how to start your journey too. In this article, we will outline some steps you can take to start your journey to reduce your belly fat naturally by making a few simple changes at home
The first step is to accurately measure how much belly fat you have and what should ideally be your target waist.
Let’s look at the options.
Option 1: Body weight (in kilograms)
Using bodyweight is not the best option as it really does not tell you much. See the image below. Weight does not differentiate muscle from fat and is therefore not the best way to measure belly fat.
Weight is not the best way to measure belly fat
Option 2: Body mass index (BMI)
BMI has traditionally been used but does not work very well in all cases. See the image below. Per their BMI, both Arnold and Danny are the same – but that is clearly not the case. The WHR or Waist-to-height ratio makes this clear.
BMI and WHR or waist to height ratio of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito
Option 3: Waist-to-height ratio
This is the best way to measure belly fat.
There has been extensive research since the 1990s on the use of Waist-to-height ratio (WHR) as an indicator of health status (and to spot health risks early) and using WHR in addition to/instead of BMI and other measures.
The research2indicates that WHR appears to be a more predictive indicator of health risks by using a simple cut-off value of WHR of 0.5. A number of countries around the world are already using WHR to track the health status of their populations.
Instead of worrying about BMI, weight or some other number, use the WHR to check if you are in good health or at risk for diseases like diabetes. Here is the rule for WHR:
Your waist should be half your height (or less).
You can use a measuring tape or you can measure it easily using a piece of string. See the below video to find out how to do this.
If you are 5 ft 10 inches (70 inches) tall, then your waist should be half of that – so 35 inches or lesser.
If you’re at 35 inches or lower, great. If you’re not, that should be your goal.
For most men & women, excess weight is largely accumulated around the belly. While it might seem harmless, it’s not.
Excess weight (fat) does not just sit quietly in your body. It is causing trouble all the time.
Think of it as a back-bencher in school that is always up to mischief. The same is true for excess weight, it’s a very active part of your body. The longer it is around, the more it will mess with your health by sending confusing hormonal signals, creating issues with cell growth etc and all of this spirals into major health problems. All as a direct result of the excess fat.
The science is clear that excess weight has been linked to most of the health disorders we are seeing in the world today, such as:
In short, it will cause harm so the sooner you deal with it, the better.
As noted above, WHR works better than BMI to measure fat accumulated around the belly.
WHR is simple, it’s accurate and it gives you something to aim for. It’s also more productive than aiming for some random weight number.
In the Daily9 programme, we measure and track WHR and the goal for D9’ers is to hit that 50% rule. After that the goal is to stay there or below.
Daily9 program measures and tracks WHR
Follow these 5 rules to get started with losing belly fat.
Rule 1: Exercise is not the answer, look at your plate.
We’ve been taught to think of exercise as the key ingredient to achieve weight loss. But the truth is that weight loss happens in the kitchen, and not in the gym. Studies have shown that compared to exercise changes, diet changes produce around three times the weight loss3. This is worth repeating.
Diet changes lead to three times the weight loss compared to exercise.
Exercise has many health benefits and is important, but when it comes to weight loss – it mostly happens on your plate. Focus on having a variety of vegetables and fruits, wholegrains, legumes, and protein-rich foods including dairy, eggs, lean meat and seafood (if non-vegetarian). We have outlined later in this article the foods to avoid to help you reduce belly fat.
Rule 2: Stop counting calories, there’s a better way.
Calorie counters can make you believe that you really know how much breakfast you’re burning during exercise. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. In reality, estimates of calories ‘in’ from foods and ‘out’ via exercise can be incorrect by up to 50%.
More importantly, your body does not recognize ‘calories’. It needs nutrients.
So stop doing the math and focus on food quality instead. The higher the quality of food you eat, the better your body.
As mentioned above, think of real unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy, meat, eggs, water. If that’s most of what you eat, you’ll be on the right track to reducing excess weight and belly fat. It’s also difficult to overeat high quality foods – ever thought of eating 4 apples at a time?
We’ve coached over a 1,000 people to achieve their fat loss goals, and we mean ‘fitting into my college pants’ kind of goals. Number of people who counted calories? Zero.
Rule 3: Sleep more to burn fat.
Inadequate sleep seems to be a big contributor to weight gain4.
Poor sleep = weight gain.
Think about this. The more hours you are awake, the more chances you have to eat and the more food you are going to put into your mouth. It just makes sense.
Sleep is also when your body focuses on some important processes – from digestion to memory assimilation. When we compromise on sleep, these processes are also compromised, which messes up your metabolism and increases stress in your body which is one of the reasons for holding on to that stubborn weight and belly fat. That’s why insufficient sleep has been linked to a number of chronic diseases and conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression5.
How much sleep is enough? 7 hrs a day. More is fine too.
And no, catch-up sleep on weekends won’t do it, consistency is key when it comes to sleep.
Rule 4: Don’t connect food and exercise.
Food is not a reward for exercise. And exercise should not be a punishment for eating poor food. Connecting the two is a bad (and stressful) habit – so don’t do it. This is a big mistake we see people make often. For example:
Disconnect food and exercise and do both because it is the right thing to do for you.
If you had a lot of junk today, get back to healthy eating the next day. If you missed a workout, be sure to show up for it the next day. This will keep you positive and focused on forming healthy habits that will help you lose excess weight and belly fat. It will also save you a lot of stress and guilt.
Rule 5: Stop waiting for the perfect answer, act now.
Many of us wait for the “perfect time” or the “perfect solution” with our health, nutrition and fitness. You may not know everything right now, but having read this article – you now know enough to get started on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
So instead of waiting for perfection, start with what you know, and you will figure out the rest along the way.
There is no perfect time. There never will be. You have to make it happen. Get started now!
When your goal is weight loss, you need to be laser-focused on what will help with that goal and what will not. You also need to ensure that we are not sabotaging your weight loss by eating high-calorie foods (even if they have some good nutrients) or unplanned snacking.
Foods like this usually fall in 3 categories:
High calorie foods to avoid for weight loss
Here are some examples of such foods:
It is impossible to have a full list but hopefully you have understood the logic – foods that offer little nutrition but contain a lot of calories.
You may be surprised that we included nuts in that list. This is why:
Nuts & dried fruits do have some nutritional value but they are very calorie dense.
Commercially available nuts and dried fruits are also generally processed, coated with preservatives and additives, including salt, sugar, honey etc. Also, we never stop at a few and it is easy to overeat them. This will not help you with your weight loss. And as we noted earlier, when your goal is weight loss, you need to be laser-focused on what will help with that goal and what will not.
That is why we would suggest eating nuts & dried fruits rarely and in small amounts. Other foods like vegetables and protein-rich foods can give you the nutrition that nuts have, so you will not miss out on any nutrients.
Hope this article has helped you understand how to lose belly fat naturally. It is certainly possible to lose belly fat with a structured plan that includes diet, exercise and sleep. Start with measuring your WHR and then implement the ideas in this articles to get closer to the target WHR of 0.50.
If you’re reading this, we know that weight loss and getting rid of harmful belly fat is a high priority for you. We also know that there are many programmes out there offering you quick weight loss. Sadly, in almost all those cases, the weight that you lose comes right back. This is disappointing and frustrating. We want to help you break this cycle.
At Daily9 our focus is helping you achieve weight loss in a way that lasts. Without doing anything extreme and by sticking to the Indian way of eating. You will see that in the 7 day diet plan for weight loss that we have provided above, we have provided a mix of Indian and multi-cuisine options, including possibilities of eating out occasionally. This is a more practical approach because many of us do eat out or order in. In our programme we recognise this fact, and so aim to help you make better choices while also enjoying it. This makes Daily9 easy to follow in the long run and helps you with both weight loss and weight maintenance.
We’ve worked with thousands of Indian men and women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories here. The Daily9 system is proven to work with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian men and women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.
Most importantly, the Daily9 weight loss diet plan is practical and suits an Indian family environment.
If you’re looking for a scientific and practical approach to weight loss, take a look at the Daily9 coaching programme. It’s the only programme that helps with weight loss and weight maintenance.
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