Long to get rid of your stubborn belly fat? Our expert guide will help you target the fat you want to lose.
Words: Karen Evennett
Meet the expert: Max Tomlinson is a nutritionist, naturopath and medical herbalist. He is author of Target Your Fat Spots (Quadrille).
You may hate your classic British pear shape – but, health-wise, storing fat on your hips is nothing to worry about. “In fact it’s a sign of good health, if it’s not accompanied by a big tummy,” says naturopath Max Tomlinson. “Your body was designed to store fat here in case of famine.”
Hip fat isn’t a health risk, but it you want to get rid of yours try eating more fruit, vegetables and pulses which help to get rid of the excess oestrogens that encourage fat to gather on your hips and thighs.
You may notice that your hips get slimmer as you age – but your tummy gets bigger. “This is particularly likely post-menopause due to a drop in oestrogen and if you have a lot of stress in your life that causes you to snack on sugar,” says Max.
Check your waist to height ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your height – the result needs to be less than 0.5. If it’s not cut down on sugary foods which pile on pounds around your middle. And make time to relax every day.
This is the fat under your skin that wobbles when you prod it.
“It's made up of white fat, which stores energy in the form of excess calories, and serves to insulate your organs,” says Max.
Too much of this white fat can unbalance your hormones, making you hungry. Fight back with long steady exercise such as walking or cycling which helps you to burn fat rather than sugar for energy.
This is the fat that wraps itself around your organs and increases your risk of heart disease. Unless you have an MRI scan you can only guess at how much visceral fat you have. Having a lot of subcutaneous fat could be one clue – especially if you find it hard to suck your tummy in, or your tummy fat feels hard to the touch (more common in beer bellied men).
Cutting out alcohol and processed foods is a good way to get rid of visceral fat. Or try an inulin supplement. Inulin is an insoluble fibre which helps to metabolise visceral fat. Try Power Health Inulin Powder £9.99/250g
Be happy about brown fat because it acts a bit like muscle, helping your body burn up sugar and white fat energy. It lowers your cholesterol and triglycerides, and your heart loves it. Sadly most of us don’t have much brown fat – about two ounces is average – but the leaner you are the more you’re likely to have.
Brown fat works its fat-and-sugar-burning magic when your body is cool, so turn down the thermostat or remove a layer of clothing. “Once stimulated, two ounces of brown fat could burn 300-500 calories a day, or a pound a week,” says Max.
For more health advice pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine