A study conducted at the University of Tennessee found obese adults who ate three servings of fat-free yogurt daily as part of a calorie-reduced diet lost 22% more weight and 61% more body fat than those who simply cut calories.
What is even more amazing is the yogurt eaters also lost a whopping 81% more fat in the stomach area than the non-yogurt eaters. And that is the worst kind of fat.
If you can pinch more than an inch around your tummy, you might be in trouble. That is because belly fat is not just unattractive, it is dangerous for your health.
When fat expands in your abdomen, nestling between your organs, it sets you up for serious health problems.
This type of fat, called visceral fat, is metabolically active and unleashes stress hormones such as cortisol as well as inflammatory substances called cytokines that affect the body’s production of insulin.
“You are at risk for premature death if you can pinch more than three inches of fat in your belly,” Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a sports medicine guru, fitness expert, and author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle,” tells Newsmax. “Even people who are not overweight are at a high risk for a heart attack and diabetes if they store most of their fat in the belly instead of the buttocks, hips, and thighs.
“Having extra belly fat is associated with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, inflammation, and arteriosclerosis,” Mirkin said. “Research has shown that belly fat is also associated with many of the most dreaded diseases, including diabetes, dementia, impotence, heart disease, strokes, kidney damage, and even some types of cancer.”
Experts say, if you consume low-fat yogurt before meals it prevents fat from entering your cells because of the high calcium content of the yogurt. It is also low in carbs and sugar, but incredibly high in protein.
At the same time, yogurt helps develop healthy bacteria in the gut because of its probiotic content.
To reap the maximum health benefits, choose plain, low-fat yogurt without added flavors or fruit, say experts. Or you can choose Greek yogurt.
“It’s important to note that Greek yogurt is a good belly fat food for those who can tolerate dairy,” says Amy Shapiro M.S., R.D., CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition NYC. “It contains 14 grams of protein per serving, so it will keep you full, and it has no sodium to make you puffy. It’s a great for breakfast, lunch, or a healthy snack.”
Other ways to banish belly fat include:
- Pass on some meals. “Intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight quickly and keep it off,” says Mirkin who advises banishing red meat, processed foods, and all foods with added sugar from your diet.
- Burn it off. Visceral fat responds quickly to aerobic exercise. You can trim that tummy by running, biking, swimming, or even brisk daily walking — anything that gets your heart rate up. A study from Duke University found jogging the equivalent of 12 miles a week was more effective for burning fat than weight training three times a week. However, both types of exercise are beneficial, say experts. In fact, the latest research shows high intensity interval training, or HIIT — which includes both aerobic and resistance exercises — is extremely effective for burning belly fat.
- Reduce stress. Stress wreaks havoc on every part of the body, and can lead to joint pain, headaches, and even excess body fat. That is because when you are stressed, your body pumps out extra cortisol, a hormone that not only increases your appetite but also redistributes body fat to your belly area, according to a review published in the journal Obesity.
- Fill up on fiber. Another study published in Obesity found people who increased their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams — the equivalent of one-half cup of black beans or a small apple — reduced visceral fat by 4%.
- Banish booze. Experts recommend ditching foods and beverages — such as alcoholic drinks — with empty calories to whittle down your middle. Research shows drinking frequently sets you up for extra pounds around the waistline. Where did you think the term “beer belly” came from?
- Cook your own meals. Researchers have discovered that spending more time in the kitchen can help you lose belly fat — as long as you are cooking the right foods. U.K. scientists found people who ate more than five homemade meals per weeks were 28% less likely to have a high body mass index.