Get a slimmer waist and discover a healthier, more energised you with these top tips from Naturopath and CNM lecturer Gemma Hurditch.
The importance of a slimmer waist is not simply aesthetic – in fact, keeping your waist to half your height or less is associated with health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a longer life-span. It’s a better predictive tool of wellness and longevity than the traditional body mass index (BMI) and much easier to work out too: measure your waist at the midpoint between the crest of your hip bone and the lowest rib – this is usually the narrowest part of the waist – relax and breathe out, resisting the urge to suck in the tummy, check if the measurement is more or less half your height. For example a person 160cm tall should have a waist of 80cm or less for maximum benefit. This can also give us a goal to work towards that is more important than the number on the scales!
Reduce belly fat
Whilst targeted weight loss is considered a myth, some specific diet and lifestyle modifications are worth looking into. They have been shown to reduce risk of metabolic syndrome, which has excessive abdominal fat as a hallmark and is considered a precursor to diabetes. So, if you need a slimmer waist, what can you do?
1. Increase daily exercise
Aim to get more exercise, particularly weight training to improve muscle mass. This will have the added effect of helping you burn more calories even when not working out, as muscles use more energy at rest than fat. Ageing reduces our muscle mass, one of the major reasons why we may put on weight, even if consuming the same diet.
2. Increase protein-rich foods
Protein-rich foods, such as legumes, oily fish and organic eggs, stave off sugar cravings which are linked to increased belly fat. Sugar is a particular stress on our bodies, providing empty calories and depleting vitamin and mineral reserves in its metabolism. Refined fructose and alcohol are also implicated in fatty liver and belly fat increases, so opt for a low glycemic load (GL), whole food diet.
3. Replace certain foods
Replace your consumption of factory farmed meats, pasteurised dairy and trans fats (biscuits, baked packaged goods and fried foods) with mono-unsaturated fats such as pre-soaked nuts and seeds, avocados and cold-pressed oils (extra virgin olive oil). Mono unsaturated fat intake is reported to improve insulin sensitivity which can improve weight loss and result in a slimmer waist.