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Dietary Strategies for Reducing the Midriff Bulge

by
author image Sava Tang Alcantara
Sava Tang Alcantara has been a writer and editor since 1988, working as a writer and editor for health publications such as "Let's Live Magazine" and "Whole Life Times." Alcantara specializes in health and fitness and is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. She does volunteer work regularly and has taught free public yoga classes in Santa Monica, Calif. since 2002.
Dietary Strategies for Reducing the Midriff Bulge
Close up of oatmeal on a wooden table Photo Credit veretenyk/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

The “battle of the bulge” can be won if you take a realistic approach combining regular, moderate exercise with a diet that includes reasonable portions from all the food groups. This will target overall body fat loss over time; spot reduction is not possible. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating 25 to 30 percent of total calories from fat for long-term weight management. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week.

Eat a High-Fiber, Low-Fat Breakfast

Make time for a high-protein, high-fiber breakfast every day. On the run, that might be instant oatmeal with a sliced banana, chopped almonds with 2 percent milk or almond or soy milk. Cold whole-grain breakfast cereals or toast with almond butter or peanut butter and half a cup of nonfat Greek-style yogurt provides plenty of fiber. The yogurt alone provides about 22 grams of protein. If you are really pressed for time, prepare a blender drink with fresh fruit, protein powder made from pea and brown rice protein, skim, soy or rice milk. Pack it with small apples and low-fat bran or corn muffins to eat at work or school.

Consume Unsaturated Fats

Replace saturated fat, which can increase the risk for developing high blood pressure, with heart-healthy unsaturated fats such as olive, canola, flax seed, hemp seed and fish oils. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should consume between 20 to 30 percent of total daily calories from fat. Of that amount, no more than 10 percent should be from saturated fat. Avoid trans fats from fried foods, such as donuts and french fries; choose whole-grain pancakes or waffles and baked “home fries” instead. Reducing fat will help to reduce the midriff bulge, but remember that there is no such thing as “spot reducing"; people lose weight gradually from their fat stores all over their bodies.

Consume Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grains

Emphasize a whole foods diet that includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains such as millet, quinoa, brown rice and oats, lean proteins, nuts and legumes, instead of fast food that contains refined flour, sugar, trans fat and corn syrup. Highly refined calories adds calories that can quickly end up at the belly. The Mayo Clinic recommends women age 50 and younger eat 25 grams of fiber, and men of the same age eat 38 grams. For women over 50, the number drops to 21 grams, and for men over 50, 30 grams.

For example, eat at least two cups of vegetables and fruits every day, the USDA recommends. You could blend two to three fruits in a breakfast drink, snack on two more and eat two half-cup servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner.

Exercise to Increase Metabolism

Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet will help you lose weight; to boost metabolism, include regular, moderate exercise every day. The American College of Sports Medicine advises healthy adults do some form of cardio for 30 minutes, five days a week. Alternately, you could do three days of 20 minutes of vigorous exercise and two sessions of resistance training.
The idea is to build lean muscle that will have larger calorie needs---which means your body will burn calories more efficiently. If you are out of shape, start with walking for 10 minutes, twice a day and gradually add more time as you become stronger.

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