Ditch the bulge with these easy, no-sacrifice habits that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
“The Big Apple” is a nickname for New York City, but it might as well refer to the entire country. Because Americans, research suggests, are getting more and more apple-shaped by the minute—adding inches to their bellies that pose an immediate threat to their health, happiness, even financial futures.
Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults now have central obesity (colloquially referred to as “belly fat,” and clinically defined as a waistline of more than 35 inches in women and more than 40 inches in men), up from 46 percent in 1999-2000, according to a September 2014 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average U.S. waist circumference has also grown to an average 38.8 inches, up more than 1 inch in about a dozen years. It’s more than a fashion crisis.
Belly fat, or visceral fat, is the most dangerous type of fat there is. This deadly fat wraps around the organs deep in your abdomen, spiking your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome. You can’t see or pinch visceral fat, and it’s often associated with a large waist. Ditch it and you’ll not only save your health, you’ll also lose weight and trim your waistline.
The good news is you can start blasting both types of fat today with these 10 healthy habits, inspired by the New York Times bestseller Zero Belly Diet:
Ditch Diet Soda
How bad can your calorie-free Diet Coke habit be for your belly? Belt-bustingly bad, researchers say. A study in the journal Diabetes Pro found that people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waist-size increases that were six times greater than non-drinkers. Diet drinks are loaded with deceptively sweet artificial sweeteners, which, researchers say, trick the metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way, spike insulin levels, and shift the body from a fat-burning to a fat-storing state.
Eat Three Squares
For years, diet experts beat the “multiple small meals a day” drum—an eating rhythm purported to “stoke the metabolic fire!” Now, some researchers are singing a different tune. A study published in the journal Hepatology found that snacking between meals contributes to increased abdominal fat. Researchers say the findings suggest three balanced meals may be the way to go. Try weaning yourself off the snack wagon by nixing your morning nibble first. Research suggests mid-morning snackers tend to consume more throughout the day than afternoon snackers.