Whittle down your middle by blasting away excess flab.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Whittle down your middle by blasting away excess flab. 

<b>PHOTO</b> 123RF.COM
<b>PHOTO</b> 123RF.COM


Are you a fan of coffee or diet beverages? You may be consuming less calories than those who prefer alcoholic or sugary drinks, but making up the caloric difference with junk food, warns a study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

Basing his observations on a decade’s worth of statistics from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researcher Ruopeng An, an assistant professor at the university, thinks it might be a “compensation effect”, where those who saved on liquid calories feel justified in eating more, so they reach for a muffin or a bag of chips. 

Alternatively, he posits that they eat more high-calorie foods in order to feel satisfied. Yet another possibility is that those who eat high-energy, low-nutrition foods tend to reach for diet drinks to alleviate guilt. Either way, these are good points to remember when picking the better drink. 


Largely caused by a calorie-rich diet and stress, visceral fat looms menacingly around vital organs and has been linked to multiple health issues including intestinal cancer, metabolic imbalances, high blood pressure, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. One solution proposed by experts is to eat more soluble fibre (think oats, apples, nuts and legumes), which seems to prevent fat accumulation. 

Research by North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that every 10g increase in soluble fibre per day (roughly two small apples or a cup of beans) helps decrease visceral fat by 3.7 per cent over five years. The American Journal of Physiology also published a study where soluble fibre was lauded for improving gut structure, which prevented fat gain. 


Olive oil usually gets all the attention, but a recent Pennsylvania State University study revealed that canola oil should also get some of your love. Apparently, after just four weeks of incorporating it into their diet, participants were found to have less belly fat. 

Even more impressive: the fat didn’t seem to have been redistributed elsewhere in the body. It was a real feat, considering most experts agree that targeted weight loss is difficult, but according to researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, a distinguished professor of nutrition at the university, “monounsaturated fatty acids seem to specifically target abdominal fat”. 


No surprises here, but exercise burns fat. However, you can reap more benefits by getting your heart racing early in the day. One obvious reason is getting your workout done and dusted for the day before excuses fill your mind, and unexpected late shifts or activities pop up. 

Another upside is you can burn up to 20 per cent more fat if you exercise before breakfast, according to research from Northumbria University in the UK. By exercising on an empty stomach, you encourage the burning of existing fat, and this apparently doesn’t increase the appetite or cause you to eat more through the day. 


We lose muscle mass as we age, giving rise to that mid-body jiggle. In the US, Harvard researchers say 20 minutes of daily weight training works better than aerobic exercise to maintain muscle mass while trimming your waistline, but combining both produces even better results. This study was conducted on 10,500 men, but it wouldn’t hurt for ladies to test out this theory, too. 

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