Digging Deep & Pinching an Inch: How To Banish Bellyfat For Life
We’ve all done it: That moment when you stand in front of the mirror and “pinch an inch,” squeezing the extra flesh around your midsection, imagining what you’d look like if you could just wave a magic wand and make it disappear. And it’s understandable – we’re human beings, and we’re visual creatures. It’s in our nature to seek out a slimmer stomach, to try for a tighter tummy, to wish for a whittled waistline. And here’s the good news: It’s possible, it’s doable, and if you’d like to find out how to do it effectively, keep reading.
But first I’d like to address why it’s so important to tackle bellyfat. It’s an important issue, and not only for vanity’s sake. The fat around your midsection may just be hazardous to your health.
The fat around our abdominals is a two-parter: About 90% of it is subcutaneous: That’s the soft, fleshy fat just beneath the surface, the skin that we’re holding when we “pinch an inch.” Subcutaneous fat is the fat we can see, the fat we can touch, and the fat that we lose most quickly and easily when we diet and exercise. (The flipside, of course, is that subcutaneous fat is also the fat that quickly returns when we ease up on said diet and exercise.)
We all know the saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” But in the case of bellyfat, the devil you don’t know is that elusive, remaining 10%. It’s called visceral fat, and if that sounds like a frightening term, it’s for good reason. Visceral fat is the intra-abdominal fat that lies beneath the abdominal wall, just out of reach. It’s marbled around our organs, intestines and liver, and also lives inside a slab of tissue called the omentum found just behind our abdominals, covering our intestines. As we gain visceral fat, the omentum begins to thicken as it absorbs the fat.
The past two decades have seen important scientific studies revealing that fat is more than a gob of unused energy. Visceral fat cells act a an endocrine organ, releasing potentially harmful chemicals on the rest of the body. It sends fatty acids into the bloodstream, which can contribute to cholesterol. A 2010 study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people with high levels of visceral fat are three times as likely to develop precancerous polyps in the colon. Visceral fat may also lead to an increase in the production of angiotensin – a hormone that raises blood pressure – and cytokines – proteins that have been linked to certain types of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and major depression.
“Depression” may just be the key word here. Before you get too bummed out by all this scary bellyfat-related news, take heart: Visceral fat is, to a certain degree, within our control. After reading all of these scary facts, you might feel like running away from it all – fast! Well, you might just be onto something with that impulse.
We’ve got a powerful weapon at our disposal, and I call it P.U.P. Training. P.U.P. stands for “Pump Up the Pace,” an exercise technique for maximizing your fat-burning results. More on that technique in a moment, but here’s the bottom line: to burst belly fat, you simply can’t underestimate the power of a good workout. According to Kerry Stewart, director of clinical research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins, “One of the most effective treatments for targeting visceral fat is exercise, maybe more so than diet.” We all know calorie-burning activities are a good thing for our health and our waistline – but when it comes to really changing the shape of our bodies, we’ve got to take those activities (walking, running, cycling, etc.) and we’ve got to up the intensity. So what are the best exercises for a flat stomach? I like to think of three simple letters: P.U.P.
Bursting away the belly fat:
To tap into those deep, dark fat stores and get faster, better results, you’ve got to push yourself a little further in your workouts. The easiest way to do that is to incorporate interval training with my “P.U.P” technique. Intervals, or “burst training,” are cardio exercise that alternates moderately paced activity with bursts of higher intensity. Not only does this type of training help you start to shed that stubborn visceral belly fat, but it also raises your metabolism and KEEPS it raised for an extended period of time. So you’re essentially turning your body into a calorie-burning machine, even AFTER you’re finished working out. Not to mention that interval training helps you avoid those boredom plateaus by breaking up the monotony of your everyday workouts.
Try P.U.P NOW: Next time you’re out for a walk, try to incorporate some belly-flattening intervals with the “P.U.P” technique:
- Start with a 4-minute warm-up at a steady state pace.
- Next, do a 90 second push, where you’re walking faster and with more intensity (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being impossibly hard, you should be at a 7 or 8).
- Slow it back down to a moderate pace for a 90-second recovery.
- Repeat that cycle: 90 seconds at a level 7, and 90 second recovery.
- Next, do a 30-second push. This one’s shorter, so really go for broke, and pump it up to an 8 or even a 9. Then recover for 90 seconds.
Repeat the full cycle a total of 5 times, and finish off with a brief cool down.