Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A 67-year-old who ‘un-retired’ shares the biggest retirement challenge ‘that no one talks about’

 In 2007, at age 52, I was forced to retire overnight. An MRI had revealed a tumor, the size of a large eggplant, sitting on my pelvis. In 98% of these cases, my oncologist told me, bone tumors are secondary cancer. He estimated that I had about six months to live.




But after two successful operations, I took a few months to recuperate on crutches and learn how to walk again. After my near-death experience, I had been in retirement for 10 years. I found myself bored, restless and stuck. My enthusiasm and energy diminished. My mental health suffered.

No one else I knew who was retired told me these were things I might experience. But when I shared with them how I felt, they admitted to feeling the same way at times.

That’s when I decided to “un-retire” and launch a mindset coaching company to help people achieve a more fulfilling retirement than I had.

The biggest challenge of retirement

Retirement means different things to different people. I did a deep survey of more than 15,000 retirees over the age of 60, and asked them one question: “What is your single biggest challenge in retirement?”

Below is a small selection of responses I received under the most cited categories:

Regret:

  • “I miss doing the work that I love.”
  • “I don’t think retiring is for me. I want to go back to teaching.”
  • “I’m not sure what to do with my time. I feel lost.”

Health:

  • “Keeping my mind healthy and adding value to the world.”
  • “Fear of dying in pain and discomfort.”
  • “When you’re 70 with a heart condition, you don’t get that many more bites at the apple.”

Identity:

  • “Fear of losing my identity created over a lifetime.”
  • “People do not see you anymore.”
  • “Feelings of rejection — internalized, not voiced.”

Here’s what this tells us: The biggest retirement challenge that no one talks about, in my experience, is finding purpose.

Sure, money is certainly a concern. “I have a fear of poverty and losing dignity,” one person said. Another wrote: “Money goes out, nothing comes in.” But surprisingly, financial worries weren’t among the top three in the list.

People often confuse retirement savings with retirement planning. But these are two different concepts. Google the words “retirement planning” and you’ll mostly see, for pages and pages, savings-and pension-related content.

There is nothing on actual retirement planning, which I believe is more about your life, and less about money. Having steady finances to last you throughout retirement plays a significant role in quality of life, but what’s more important is your life-planning.

In other words, what is it that you are going to do once you leave the workforce? You can retire from your career, but you can’t retire from life.

Finding purpose leads to a more meaningful, healthier life

In the same survey, I asked how people thought they might solve their challenges. A full 35% believed that the answer is in finding purpose in life through a new skill or interest.  

In fact, a 2021 study of 12,825 adults over the age of 51 published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology associated a strong purpose in life with healthier lifestyle behaviors and slower rates of progression of chronic illnesses.

Finding purpose can also help retirees find new side hustle opportunities that bring in income, helping to ease financial concerns.

How a Japanese concept saved me from a depressing retirement

I’ve helped countless retirees find their purpose. They didn’t go back to work in the traditional 9-to-5 sense, but they set up new businesses, consulted, volunteered and took on hobbies that brought them joy and satisfaction.

To identify what activities brought me purpose, I referenced the Japanese concept of “ikigai,” which translates to “your reason for being.”How to Find Your Ikigai



George Jerjian | CNBC Make It

The Westernized version of this concept is based on the idea that there are four components a person must have complete to achieve ikigai.

Each concept is represented by a question. As you actively pursue what you enjoy doing in service of yourself, your family, and your community, think about whether that activity allows you to answer “yes” to any combination of those four questions:

  1. Are you doing an activity that you love?
  2. Are you good at it?
  3. Does the world need what you offer?
  4. Can you get paid for doing it?

Japanese neuroscientist and happiness expert Ken Mogi also suggests considering if the activity has the five pillars that further allow your ikigai to thrive:

  1. Does the activity allow you to start small and improve over time?
  2. Does the activity allow you to release yourself?
  3. Does the activity pursue harmony and sustainability?
  4. Does the activity allow you to enjoy the little things?
  5. Does the activity allow you to focus on the here and now?

On a deeper level, ikigai refers to the emotional circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable as they move towards their goals.

As for me, I’ve found that my purpose now is to help retirees “un-retire” and create a new life for themselves. Depending on when you plan to retire, you may have another 30, 40, 50 or more years of life — and that’s a hell of a long time to drift aimlessly.

George Jerjian is the author of “Dare to Discover Your Purpose: Retire, Refire, Rewire.” An Emmy-award-winning producer and author of 10 books, he earned his business degree from Bradford University in England and a master’s degree in Journalism from New York University. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeJerjian.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

‘Early retirement is one of the worst money mistakes’—here’s why you’ll ‘regret’ it

 


As an economist, pulling punches isn’t in my DNA. So, I’ll be blunt: For most Americans, early retirement isn’t just a decision to take the longest vacation of their lives — it’s one of the biggest money mistakes that they will regret.

The reason is simple: We are, as a group, lousy savers, making early retirement unaffordable. Financially speaking, it’s generally far safer and far smarter to retire later.

According to a Boston College Center for Retirement Research report, half of today’s working families risk a major living standard decline in retirement. The share would drop by roughly 50% if all workers were to retire two years later.

Of course, there are situations where retiring early is a great option. Some people have carefully planned and can afford to buy more leisure. Many have no choice; they run out of physical or psychological steam. Others find their jobs automated or outsourced.

Still, almost two-thirds of people — between ages 57 and 66 — choose to retire early out their own volition, despite having saved next to nothing. And most of them are able-bodied, without disabilities that would prevent them from staying on the job.

The baby boomer’s retirement debacle

Take the baby boomer generation, the 76 million-strong population of those born between 1946 and 1964, who are retiring droves. Almost half of them have little if any savings.

Indeed, their median wealth is just $144,000 — less than three years of median household spending. If they had significant private, state or local pensions on which to rely, things would look better. They don’t.

Less than 1 in 3 have a pension apart from Social Security. As for those with pensions, many had state- and local-government jobs that weren’t covered by Social Security.

Worse, those receiving such pensions can lose most or all of the Social Security benefits accrued from working part-career in covered employment due to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination and Government Pension Offset provisions.

Social Security is nothing to write home about

Social Security’s average benefit — $18,000 per year — could be far higher, but 94% of retirees take Social Security retirement benefits well before its benefit peaks, at age 70.

In fact, roughly 85% should be waiting until 70 to collect. The age-70 retirement benefit is 76% higher, adjusted for inflation, than, for example, the age-62 benefit.

Moreover, when Americans take their Social Security retirement benefits far too early, they potentially condemn their spouses or ex-spouses (to whom they were married to for a decade or more) to far lower widow(er)‘s and divorced widow(er)’s benefits.  

You can’t count on dying time

The failure of most of us to save reflects a misfocus on life expectancy, which is routinely used to set one’s planning horizon. Half of 50-year-olds will live beyond age 80. A quarter will make it to age 90.

To understand what adequate saving really involves, take Jane, a single 40-year-old Louisianan. Jane, who plans to retire and take Social Security at 62, earns $75,000 per year and has $150,000 in her saving account — an inheritance from a rich uncle.

Jane could live to 100. Like the rest of us, Jane can’t count on dying on time. She needs to plan to live to her maximum age of life, because she might. 

Jane has saved nothing. She’s counting on Social Security and her 401(k), with its $150,000 balance and to which she and her employer contribute 3% annually, to sustain her retirement. Jane is miles off base. Her retirement could last longer than she works. If she lives to 100, she needs to save 28% of her take-home pay each year through retirement! 

What if Jane takes Social Security at 70? Good move! This raises her lifetime spending by over 10% and lowers her requisite pre-retirement saving rate to 16%. And if she plays the odds of dying young and plans to lower her living standard by 1.5% annually starting at 80? Now her required saving rate is 13%.

Unfortunately, Jane is saving nothing. If she continues to do so, her post-retirement living standard will be half her pre-retirement living standard!

Even so, Jane is actually in better shape than many. About one-third of private-sector workers have no retirement plan. And a quarter of those that do fail to participate even to the point of getting their free employer match.

The answer is to delay retirement

How to rescue non-saving Jane’s retirement? If Jane retires and takes Social Security at 70, she won’t need to save on her own. And her lifetime spending will rise by one-third!

Yes, this is a risky strategy. Jane could become disabled. Or she could be fired. But if she refuses to save a ton and doesn’t want to experience severe financial deprivation in retirement, her only answer is to keep on working.

As for me, I just turned 71. Fortunately, I have tenure and can keep doing research, writing books and columns and teaching. My current plan is to die in the saddle. My work is just too rewarding — financially, intellectually and psychologically — to give it up.

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is an economics professor and the author of “Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life.” He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1977. His columns have appeared in The New York Times, WSJ, Bloomberg and The Financial Times. In 2014, The Economist named him one of the world’s 25 most influential economists. Follow Laurence on Twitter @Kotlikoff.

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

A longevity expert shares the diet, exercise and sleep rules he lives by for a longer, stronger life: These are ‘non-negotiable’


Thanks to today’s advanced research and new innovations, it’s more than possible for us to live longer, stronger and healthier lives.

While life expectancy in the U.S. dropped one full year during the first half of 2020, according to a CDC report, much of that was attributed to the pandemic. Prior to Covid, however, life expectancy in the U.S. was 78.8 years in 2019, up a tenth of a year over 2018.

As a longevity researcher, I’ve spent the bulk of my career gathering insights from world-leading health experts, doctors, scientists and nutritionists from all over the world. Here’s what I tell people when they ask about the non-negotiable rules I live by for a longer life:

1. Get regular checkups

Early diagnosis is critical for the prevention of disease and age-related decline, so it’s important to get yourself checked regularly, and as comprehensively as possible.

At the very least, I make it a point to have a complete annual physical exam that includes blood count and metabolic blood chemistry panels, a thyroid panel and testing to reveal potential deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamin B, iron and magnesium (all nutrients that our body needs to perform a variety of essential functions).

2. Let food be thy medicine

Poor diet is the top driver of noncommunicable diseases worldwide, killing at least 11 million people every year.

Here are some of my diet rules for a longer life:

    Eat more plants: To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, try to have every meal include at least one plant-based dish. I typically have broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or zucchini as a side for lunch and dinner. When I snack, I opt for berries, nuts or fresh veggies.
    Avoid processed foods: Many products you find in grocery stores today are loaded with salt, sugar, saturated fats and chemical preservatives. A 2019 study of 20,000 men and women aged 21 to 90 found that a diet high in processed foods resulted in an 18% increased risk of death by all causes.
    Drink more water: Most of us drink far too little water for our optimal health. I keep a bottle of water with lemon slices at hand wherever I spent most of my day.
    Include healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. Low-density lipids (LDL), including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are considered “good fats,” and are essential to a healthy heart, blood flow and blood pressure.

3. Get moving (yes, walking counts)

Just 15 to 25 minutes of moderate exercise a day can prolong your life by up to three years if you are obese, and seven years if you are in good shape, one study found.

I try not to focus on the specific type of exercise you do. Anything that gets you up out of the chair, moving and breathing more intensely on a regular basis is going to help.

That’s why the method I practice and recommend the most is extremely simple: Walking. Brisk walking can improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. It can even ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

4. Eat early, and less often

Clinical data shows that intermittent fasting — an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting — can improve insulin stability, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mental alertness and energy.

To ease into the “eat early, and less often” diet, I started with a 16:8-hour intermittent fasting regimen. This is where you eat all of your meals within one eight-hour period — for instance, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

But keep in mind that a fasting or caloric-restricted diet isn’t for everyone; always talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet and eating routine.

5. Constantly work on quitting bad habits

One of the biggest toxic habits is excessive use of alcohol. Studies show that high and regular use can contribute to damages your liver and pancreas, high blood pressure and the immune system.

Large amounts of sugar consumption is another bad habit. Sure, in the right doses, sugars from fruits, vegetables and even grains play an important role in a healthy diet. I eat fruits and treat myself to some ice cream once in a while. But make no mistake: Excess sugar in all its forms is poison. To lessen my intake, I avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.

Lastly, I don’t smoke — but for anyone who does, I recommend quitting as soon as possible. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is behind 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

6. Make sleep your superpower

A handful of studies of millions of sleepers show that less sleep can lead to a shorter life. Newer studies are strengthening known and suspected relationships between inadequate sleep and a wide range of disorders, including hypertension, obesity and diabetes and impaired immune functioning.

I aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. For me, an essential ingredient for getting quality sleep is darkness; I make sure there’s no light and no electronic devices in my room before bedtime.

Sergey Young is a longevity researcher, investor and the founder of Longevity Vision Fund. He is also the author of “The Science and Technology of Growing Young: An Insider’s Guide to the Breakthroughs That Will Dramatically Extend Our Lifespan.” Sergey is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research and the Development Sponsor of Age Reversal XPRIZE global competition, designed to cure aging. Follow him on Twitter @SergeyYoung200.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/25/longevity-expert-shares-his-non-negotiable-diet-sleep-exercising-rules-for-a-longer-healthier-life.html

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Five effective weight loss ideas for people over 40

Losing weight is very much possible even at the age of 40 if you eat sensibly, stay active and sleep well.

If you are 40, you may feel that losing weight is a herculean task. But, according to Manik Dhodi, fitness expert and athlete, with healthy lifestyle changes and maintained activity levels losing weight is very much possible.

As such, he shares effective weight loss ideas for those over 40 years of age:

Eat your vegetables and salad first

Fill at least half of your plate with salad and vegetables and build your meals around them. Although meats and grains are equally important, fruits and veggies have more nutrient value from vitamins and minerals and are less on fat and calories. However, you could increase the intake of high fibre foods as they improve digestion, prevent weight gain and fat accumulation while keeping you satiated, reducing the chances of overeating significantly.

Do not skip meals

Eating at regular intervals during the day helps burn calories at a faster rate. It also reduces the temptation to snack on foods high in fat and sugar. By skipping meals, you could be missing out on essential nutrients that the body requires. Breakfast is an equally important meal of the day. Perhaps it might be even more important since your body has already fasted for 10-12 hours. A healthy morning meal like oatmeal with fruits or whole-wheat bread with fruits could take care of that mid-morning hunger that compels you to grab something unhealthy or overeat during your lunch. However, you could lay low over the dinner and eat while monitoring what to eat and how much.

breakfast, health benefits Breakfast is an equally important meal of the day. (Source: Getty Images)

Water intake

Water intake plays a very important role in multiple aspects of a healthy body as well as in reducing weight. Staying well-hydrated helps in pumping up your metabolism, smoothening waste removal and in burning excess belly fat. Drinking water at regular intervals of the day also reduces the hunger you feel during the day between your meals. Multiple studies show that one should consume at least 2-3 litres of water every day. Drinking water before meals could keep you full, thus your body feels less hungry.

Be active and exercise regularly

Regular activity, in the form of cardio, abdominal exercises, as well as HIIT, in your routine can help burn extra fat and is especially effective when it comes to reducing weight. It keeps your heart rate up and increases fat burning. Another fun way could be Zumba dance. A moderate to vigorous activity for 30-40 minutes per day, could do wonders for your weight loss before you even realise. For those with injuries and health issues, they can practise yoga or walk with breaks to give their body a little jerk.

Avoid process food, junk food, and soda

Processed foods like chips, cookies, and convenience foods are typically high in calories, carbs, and fats, and are mostly low in key nutrients such as fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Avoiding these processed foods from your diet and swapping them for whole foods can increase weight loss, reduce belly fat, and help you lose weight. Also the sweetened soda drinks could lead to weight gain and could also increase the risk of diabetes.

“Eat Sensibly, Stay Active, sleep well, and see the results because 40 is the New 20,” he concluded.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/five-effective-weight-loss-ideas-for-people-over-40-7375749/

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

10 Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea with Lemon

Green tea with lemon juice is a soothing beverage you can enjoy at any time of day.

It’s full of flavor, delicious, and easy to prepare.

It’s also highly nutritious, and research has found that it’s associated with a long list of potential health benefits.

Here are 10 of the top health benefits of green tea with lemon.

Green tea and lemons are both high in antioxidants, compounds that help protect against inflammation and cell damage due to oxidation.

Green tea, in particular, is rich in antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), quercetin, chlorogenic acid, and theogallin (1Trusted Source).

Lemons are a good source of the antioxidants ascorbic acid, hesperidin, naringin, and ferulic acid (2Trusted Source).

Research suggests antioxidants play a key role in health and disease and may protect against chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity (3Trusted Source).

Summary

Green tea and lemons are high in antioxidants, which can help protect against inflammation and chronic conditions.

Green tea with lemon can be a great addition to a healthy weight loss diet.

In fact, multiple studies have suggested that green tea can support weight loss and boost fat burning.

According to one review of 15 studies, drinking green tea with higher amounts of EGCG for at least 12 weeks was linked to decreases in body weight and body fat (4Trusted Source).

One study in 115 women also found that taking green tea extract for 12 weeks led to significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, and belly fat (5Trusted Source).

Although scientists need to do more research in humans, some studies suggest that lemons could also promote weight loss.

One animal study found that when mice were treated with citrus flavonoids, the size of their fat cells decreased. The citrus flavonoids also increased metabolism in mice fed a high fat diet (6Trusted Source).

Another animal study from 2008 found that feeding lemon polyphenols to mice on a high fat diet helped prevent them from gaining weight and accumulating fat (7Trusted Source).

Summary

Studies suggest that drinking green tea may help decrease body weight and body fat. Some animal studies have found that certain compounds in lemons could also help prevent weight gain.

Interestingly, some research suggests that green tea could help improve blood sugar control and protect against type 2 diabetes.

According to one review, drinking tea is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications (8Trusted Source).

Drinking tea regularly may also reduce inflammation and enhance the body’s ability to use insulin efficiently. Insulin is the hormone that moves sugar from the bloodstream into the cells (8Trusted Source).

One study in 92 people with type 2 diabetes also found that taking green tea extract for 16 weeks reduced insulin resistance. This may help support better blood sugar control (9Trusted Source).

However, other studies have found mixed results, and scientists need to do more research on green tea and diabetes (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

Summary

Some studies have linked drinking green tea to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.

Research has found that both green tea and lemons are associated with several benefits for heart health.

In fact, one review reported that citrus flavonoids, including those found in lemons, may suppress inflammation, improve the function of the blood vessels, and support healthy cholesterol levels (13Trusted Source).

Another study found that people who consumed lemons daily had decreased blood pressure levels, especially when they also walked regularly (14Trusted Source).

Similarly, an analysis of nine studies showed that people who regularly consumed green tea had a lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke than those who didn’t drink green tea (15Trusted Source).

What’s more, a recent review of 24 studies also found that drinking green tea could help lower high systolic and diastolic blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease (16Trusted Source).

Summary

Studies have found that consuming both green tea and lemons is associated with improved heart health and reductions in several risk factors for heart disease.

Although further research in humans is needed, some studies suggest that green tea and lemon may offer several potential benefits for brain health.

For instance, one review of eight studies found that drinking green tea was associated in some studies with a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive impairment (17Trusted Source).

Another study found that consuming green tea frequently could improve the metabolism of certain proteins involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (18Trusted Source).

Some test-tube and animal studies have also found that certain compounds in citrus fruits may reduce inflammation, protect brain function, and prevent the buildup of plaque in the brain, which could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease (19Trusted Source).

Summary

Drinking green tea is linked to a lower risk of dementia, impaired brain function, and Alzheimer’s disease. Test-tube and animal studies also suggest that compounds found in lemons may improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.


Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/green-tea-with-lemon#2.-Promotes-weight-loss
 

Monday, March 29, 2021

The surprising habit that can reverse aging — and other science-backed strategies

 When you’re young, “biology can seem so distant,” says Andrew Steele, scientist and author of “Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old.” “It’s quite easy to avoid all of that stuff....”

But when you are younger is exactly the time to start thinking about how to optimize your lifestyle to age well.

“There are huge strides being made in aging biology” that point to ways that we can potentially slow the aging process, says Steele, 35, whose research focuses on the ways that the body ages at a cellular level.

“We have loads and loads of different ways in the lab to slow down and reverse this process.”

Tweaks to your lifestyle can go a long way: A 2018 study from Harvard found that people who followed five habits — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and not smoking — increased life expectancy by up to 10 years.

Here are three simple habits Steele says you can add to your routine today to push back on the aging process:

Take care of your teeth

It may sound surprising, but there is a connection between your oral health and aging.

“There’s quite good evidence accumulating now that brushing your teeth can stave off heart disease and maybe even dementia,” Steele says.

It all comes back to inflammation, which is a normal part of the body’s defense to injury or infection, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to an excess of bacteria in your mouth that causes tooth decay and gum disease. “Basically, that is chronic inflammation constantly buzzing around in your mouth,” Steele says.

Chronic low-level inflammation causes your immune system to become less effective at dealing with actual threats, such as age-related disease, Steele says.

In other words, chronic inflammation fuels aging, but “by brushing your teeth, you can potentially slow down that process,” Steele says.

Wondering if you’re brushing enough? A Scottish study found that people who brushed their teeth twice a day had a lower heart attack risk than those who only brushed once a day.

And the American Dental Association recommends brushing two times a day for two minutes using a toothpaste with fluoride, and flossing daily.


Stay active

From reducing inflammation to boosting the production of collagen cells, exercise benefits several aspects of your biology on a cellular level, which in turn affect how you age, Steele says.

Research has shown that people who have consistently high levels of activity have longer telomeres, which are caps at the end of chromosomes that shorten as you age. Adults with high physical activity levels (defined as 30 minutes of exercise five days a week) had telomeres that were nine years “younger” than those who are sedentary, a 2017 study found.

And cardio exercise appears to have a more robust effect on aging than resistance. A 2018 study found that high-intensity interval (aka HIIT) and endurance training lengthens telomeres better than resistance training.

Exercised muscles also have more mitochondria, which is often referred to as the “powerhouse” of the cell that generates most of its energy, Steele says. This is key to aging, because research shows that as you age, your mitochondrial quality and activity declines, which is leads to the development of a wide range of age-related diseases.

It doesn’t take much exercise to drive change: A 2013 study out of Harvard found that as little as 15 minutes of exercise every day increased life expectancy by three years.

Get good sleep

Sleep is like “spring cleaning” for your brain, according to Steele. During sleep, your brain essentially flushes out toxins, including some that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

But not sleeping too much is also important (just as important as getting enough sleep, in fact): Systemic reviews of research on sleep and mortality have shown that getting less than seven or eight hours of sleep is associated with an increased chance of death, but sleeping more than 11 hours a night is associated with an even larger increase.

Prioritize sleep hygiene, or habits that help you sleep better, such as having a consistent bedtime, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed and removing electronics from your bedroom.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/28/andrew-steele-how-to-fight-aging-and-live-healthier.html

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

How to Lose Belly Fat: 30 Ways

 


With spring right around the corner, many of us are thinking more about our fitness goals, with a toned midsection topping the list. Sure, a strong, lean stomach looks great. But it comes with tons of other benefits too, like improved posture, less back pain, improved heart health and more.

In addition to ab workouts, losing belly fat is crucial to this process. The first step to losing stubborn belly fat? Understanding how extra pounds pile onto that part of the body in the first place.

The science behind belly fat

Body fat is divided into two categories: subcutaneous (under the skin) and visceral (around organs). Belly fat is an accumulation of visceral fat around the abdominal organs, Dr. Spencer Kroll, MD, PhD, FNLA, explains.

“There is now a realization that visceral fat cells secrete hormones, much like other endocrine organs in the body such as your thyroid or pancreas,” says Dr. Kroll. “Thus, what was once thought of as the accumulation of poor eating and lack of exercise has actually been shown to be metabolically active: a hormone secreted from visceral fat have far-reaching effects on other tissues in the body.”

The hormones secreted from visceral fat cause inflammation and coagulation in the body. This explains why people with large amounts of visceral fat are more likely to have diabeteshigh cholesterol and poor heart health.

The bottom line: visceral fat makes up only a small proportion of body fat but it is a key player in a variety of health problems, Dr. Kroll explains. So, in order to lose belly fat, you need to make visceral cells less active. This can be accomplished through eating healthier, exercising, and other lifestyle changes.

Ready to start losing belly fat? Here are 30 ways to make it happen.

1. Cardio aerobic exercise

To burn and reduce visceral fat, Dr. Kroll recommends 30 minutes of cardio aerobic exercise a day.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that targeted exercise for the abdomen does not help the reduction of visceral fat. In other words, crunches and sit-ups won’t help reduce belly fat. First, you need to eliminate the fat through cardio aerobic workouts, which get your heart rate up. Once the fat is gone, you can do sit-ups and crunches to tone the area.

2.  Intermittent fasting

While fasting is a controversial weight-loss tactic, it is considered safe and effective when done correctly.

“Intermittent or Circadian fasting allows your system to reduce the excess glucose in the bloodstream and therefore reduce the amount of glycogen stored in your body (which manifests as fat), says Dr. Alexandra Trevisan, Doctor of Chiropractic and Functional Medicine and holistic weight loss expert. “Fasting then utilizes your adipose tissue (your fat storage in your body which is there to be called on for energy) for energy for daily functioning and breaks down belly fat at the same time.”

3. Eliminate trans fats and simple carbohydrates

When it comes to fat formation, certain foods are worse than others. Trans fats, found in hydrogenated vegetable oils and fructose-sweetened foods are particular culprits, Dr. Kroll states.

Simple carbohydrates also lead to more fat accumulation. Your body packs away any additional unnecessary consumed carbohydrates as fat and stores it around your organs.

4. Try a healthy carb cycle

While you should steer clear of simple carbs, not all carbs are bad. “Have certain days of the week where you allow for more healthy carbohydrates than normal (whole grains that are gluten-free),” Dr. Trevisan explains. “This will prevent the body from plateauing, causing variability to the system and expediting weight loss.”

5. Eat real, whole foods 

Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. “Your body can process foods that either has a mother or grow from the ground,” says Dr. Trevisan. “Foods made in a lab without real ingredients are stored as belly fat.”

6. Read nutrition labels

Some foods claim to be low fat but are actually high in carbohydrates and other added sugars. Ultimately, it’s the reduction of the right kinds of fats and carbohydrates that can lead to visceral fat reduction, Dr. Kroll states.

“The consumption of more complex carbohydrates will lead to a sustained metabolism as opposed to the peaks and valleys that occur with simple carbohydrate consumption, which in turn leads to fat accumulation.”

As a general rule, avoid all processed foods.

7. Cut the sugar

Starches and grains break down into sugar (glucose). While these have beneficial factors for our bodies in small amounts; added sugar (sugar cane, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) do not, says Dr. Trevisan. Excessive consumption of sugar gets stored as belly fat.

8. Keep track of your levels by measuring your waist circumference

This is an effective technique that will help you keep track of your progress. Measure your waist circumference at your belly button line. “In almost all people it is more than their waist circumference at their belt, especially when they wear their pants below their stomach,” says Dr. Kroll. “Measuring at the belly button line is a much better indicator of visceral fat than the number of pounds on the scale.”

9. Eat more healthy fat

Incorporating healthy fat from properly raised animal products (grass-fed beef, antibiotic hormone-free eggs, fatty fish) as well as avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds give your body the nutrients it needs for brain activity and digestive function, Dr. Trevisan explains. Small amounts of healthy fat at each meal are conducive for weight loss when not combined with sugar/starches.

10. Develop better sleep habits

Poor sleep hygiene in people who sleep five hours or less a night accumulated significantly more visceral fat.  And in young people, sleeping over eight hours a night also leads to more visceral fat, Dr. Kroll says, so there is definitely a “sweet spot” for the proper amount of sleep to minimize visceral fat.

11. Eat balanced meals

A balanced meal is one that contains the major food groups. Sandy Younan Brikho, MDA, RDN registered dietitian nutritionist, weight loss expert, and founder of The Dish On Nutrition, recommends following the MyPlate Method. “It will help you lose belly fat because it helps keep you full and satisfied throughout the day, incorporates the major food groups, and helps with portion control,” Brikho says.

“For example, cover half of your plate in a salad, a quarter of it in pasta, and a quarter of it in meatballs.”

12. Weight training

Loading your body with resistance causes muscle adaptation.“This adaptation results in your body burning more calories at rest (AKA a faster resting metabolic rate),” says Dr. Trevisan. “Weight training will help you to burn more while at rest, in turn burning more belly fat.”

13. Find healthy ways to reduce stress

Increased anxiety and stress also lead to higher amounts of visceral fat in the abdominal area. While stress isn’t shown to affect subcutaneous fat, it does impact visceral fat, Dr. Kroll explains. Popular stress management techniques include meditation, journaling, yoga and other types of exercise.

Related: Best Journals for Anxiety 

14. Cover half of your plate in vegetables

This will help increase your fullness, prevent overeating, encourage portion control, and help you get the nutrients you need, Brikho says. In doing so, you won’t be tempted to eat too much other higher-calorie foods and as a result, it will be easier to lose belly fat.

15. Eat enough protein

Protein helps keep you full and prevents overeating later in the day. The specific amount of protein varies from person to person. How much do you weigh? Dr. Trevisan says it’s is a good indicator of protein levels (in grams) to consume when focusing on physique and belly fat loss.

16. Walk more often

Mixing up your workouts is important. And while it’s important to keep cardio in your workout regimen, never underestimate the power of walking.

“If your body is constantly in a fight or flight state (overactive sympathetic nervous system) it will hold onto weight for protection,” says Dr. Trevisan. “Increased stress hormones are secreted into the system causing the body to hold onto weight. Moving the body in gentle, consistent ways such as walking helps to remind the body that it’s safe to calm down while moving about, reinforcing that a threat is not imminent; allowing for the release of fat for protection.”

Related: Not Into HIIT? Walking Is Actually a Great Way to Lose Weight–and These Tips Will Help

17. Snack on healthy treats throughout the day

“Often, clients will tell me that they are feeling hungry throughout the day, which leads them to binge eat at their next meal,” Brikho explains. “Instead, incorporate a snack that combines a protein with either a fruit, vegetable, or carbohydrate.”

For example, she recommends one slice of whole-grain bread, peanut butter, and a banana. This will help keep you satisfied until your next meal, prevent overeating later in the day, and will help you lose weight. This will ultimately lead to loss of belly fat.

18. Hydrate

You cannot lose weight if your body is not lubricated enough to excrete the toxins in your system, Dr. Trevisan explains. Half your body weight in ounces is the general rule.

19. Move your body in a fun way

While healthy eating is primarily what helps you lose belly fat, exercise will help you reach your goals sooner. Brikho suggests exercising for 30 minutes each day. “You don’t need to be doing vigorous activity daily in order to see results,” she says. “It could be something as simple as walking, doing squats during commercials while watching tv, gardening, or going for a bike ride. If it is fun and if you are enjoying it, then you are more likely to keep it up and therefore, more likely to lose belly fat.”

The reason so many people struggle with weight loss is that they view it as a chore. But working out can be fun if you choose to see it that way.

20. Eliminate or reduce alcohol intake

Too much alcohol can disrupt liver function, which is responsible for filtration in the body, Dr. Alice Fong, MD, Founder and CEO of Amour de Soi Wellness, explains. If your body is not properly filtering correctly, that can disrupt hormonal balance and lead to belly fat.

21. Decrease calories in your coffee

Yes, plain black coffee can be boring, but thankfully, there are ways to make it taste better without adding inches to your waistline. Brikho recommends the following nutritious tips to make your coffee taste good and help you reach your weight loss goals:

  • Add Manuka Honey, which is a great low calorie, healthy alternative to sugar or other sweeteners and it’s great to include in your daily coffee!
  • Add 1 tbsp of coffee mate’s low-fat vanilla creamer to a cup of coffee for a delicious 25 calorie cup of coffee
  • Add almond extract and vanilla to your black coffee
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon to your coffee with some steamed nonfat milk

22. Eat your meals at consistent times of the day every day

Consistency is key in order to develop healthy habits and lose weight. When you eat at the same times, your body can then start to regulate better and have a routine for digestion, Dr. Fong says.

23. Eat out in a healthy way

While restaurants offering a ton of tasty, not-so-healthy options (mostly in the takeout form right now), there are a few simple ways to cut calories.

“Eating out is fun and you don’t need to sacrifice that in order to be healthy,” Brikho explains.  “You can share a plate with your friend, coworker, or family member while eating out, which will decrease your portion size, decrease your calorie intake, decrease your fat intake depending on what you ordered, and allow you to still enjoy your favorite meals.”

Another helpful tip is ordering an appetizer that includes vegetables such as a salad, edamame, cucumber wrapped sushi, or Brussels sprouts, for example. That will help you feel full and eat less during the main course.

Lastly, limit eating out to 1-2 times a week. “While we are able to eat out and lose weight, it is still important to remember that it is what we do more often that will impact our health and if we are eating out daily, then it will make it more challenging to reach our goals,” Brikho adds.

So, dine out (or order in) and enjoy your favorite foods, but do it in moderation.

24. Eliminate gluten

Even if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, it’s beneficial to cut it out of your diet. “Gluten can cause inflammation in the body and too much can cause intestinal permeability (leaky gut syndrome), which can cause food sensitivities and gut health issues,” Dr. Fong states. “An unhealthy gut leads to weight gain and belly fat.”

Related: Going Gluten-Free Has Some Major Benefits – Here Are the Ones You Should Know About

25. Don’t go on a “diet”

In fact, remove the word “diet” from your vocabulary altogether.

“Most diets are restrictive, challenging to follow, and are unrealistic to keep up with long-term,” says Brikho. “If you can’t keep up with it long-term, then often, your results won’t last long-term. Find something that you feel like you can do forever and something that you enjoy. If you love what you’re eating, and if you’re losing weight in the process, then you will not only lose belly fat, but also keep it off.”

26. Eat gut-friendly foods

A healthy gut is essential for optimal health. Dr. Pamela Peeke, chairman of the Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board, recommends eating a diverse range of foods.

“The bacteria in your body is quite diverse, and your diet should be too,” says Dr. Peeke. “Grabbing five vegetables and several fruits a day is a great start.” Fermented foods are also important. Yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and tempeh are rich in lactobacilli, a bacteria that support your health, she adds.

27. Make it easy

If it isn’t convenient, it will make losing weight and losing belly fat more challenging. Have snacks that are easy to prepare or ready to go like a banana and peanut butter, or an apple and string cheese, Brikho says.

In addition, if you don’t have time to prepare meals, then either cook several servings of a dish on Monday and eat it for lunch for the rest of the week, or make a recipe that is prepared in under five minutes, she adds.

28. Ditch the artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners do not contribute to gut health and successful weight loss, Dr. Peeke states. These products upset the balance of gut bacteria favoring Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae which are associated with disease. Instead, use monk fruit or natural honey for flavor.

29. Incorporate more prebiotics in your diet

Along with fermented foods, prebiotics are great for the gut. These are foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, Dr. Peeke explains. These include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, cocoa, flaxseeds, and wheat bran.

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30. Make one change at a time

Taking small steps on a consistent basis is what leads to long-term results. “We can all make 100 changes to our lifestyle or our diets, but if you focus on too many at the same time, it will be challenging to keep up with them all, says Brikho. “The biggest recommendation I can make is to focus on only ONE small change you want to make, master that by making it into a new habit, and then, pick your next small change.”

Next up, here are 13 reasons why you’re not losing weight

Sources

  • Alexandra Trevisan, Doctor of Chiropractic and Functional Medicine; Holistic Weight Loss Expert
  • Spencer Kroll, MD, PhD, FNLA
  • Sandy Younan Brikho, MDA, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, weight loss expert, and founder of The Dish On Nutrition
  • Dr. Alice Fong, MD, Founder and CEO of Amour de Soi Wellness
  • S. Department of Agriculture: “MyPlate

    Source: https://parade.com/1172732/kaitlin-vogel/how-to-lose-belly-fat/