How to Get Rid of Stomach Overhang the Natural Way
Stomach overhang is usually the bane of many who are aiming or going through the process of getting back into shape after years of piling on the pounds. It goes by several unbecoming names such as “belly apron”, “fatty pack” (a pun of fanny pack), “ab flab”, and other hilarious if not harsh handles.
Scientifically, it is called “abdominal panniculus”, and apparently, it has 5 grades depending on how low your “excess baggage” is hanging. It’s grade 1 until the mass of skin and fatty tissue reach the top of the hairline of mons pubis; grade 2 when it reaches the genitalia; and so on.
There are actually two types of stomach overhang. The first one is the conspicuous mass of stomach flesh that juts or even sags as a result of a recent childbirth for some women, or for being moderately or exceedingly overweight, which of course, is not gender-specific.
The second type is characterized by loose and sagging excess skin that is an aftermath of a massive weight loss. The cause may be a natural and gradual reduction or more likely a result of a recent gastric bypass, liposuction or other bariatric procedures.
In the interest of time and space, we will be only exploring the first type in this article, as the second one may require other recourses for fixing other than the natural way, such as further medical intervention. Besides, I think it’s also a serious topic that deserves an extensive discussion on its own.
Why is abdominal fat easiest to gain but hardest to lose?
For starter, our abdomen houses most of the adipose cells that become depositories for surplus unused glucose. Said fat cache is like reserved energy sources much like the gasoline in your car’s gas tank. It is meant for burning through physical exertion to power your cells, muscles, and tissues.
Unfortunately, unlike in the olden days when folks subsist as hunters, gatherers, and farmers, most people today lead a less active life and left those stored fats unused. In time, they began to accumulate through years of bad diet, inactivity, and stressful lifestyle, thereby expanding their pod (your tummy) in the process.
Secondly, disparate from most other parts of our body, we have two main layers of fat in our stomach. The subcutaneous fat lie between the skin and the abdominal muscles, and beyond that is the visceral fat, which also envelops the vital organs.
While it’s the outer layer of excess fat that looks unsightly, it’s actually the glut of intra-abdominal fat that mainly causes the distention and the one that poses greater health risks such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
To actually lose stomach overhang then, you have to burn fat cells in both the visceral and subcutaneous strata. While you can build and strengthen the abdominal muscles between the two layers with isolation exercises such as planking, crunches and oblique twists, losing stored fat cells would take a lot more effort, discipline and attitude change.
Winning the War Against Stomach Overhang
Sun Tzu’s Art of War exhorts: “Know your enemy and yourself and you will never be in peril in a hundred battles.”
We already met our opponent, now it’s time to assess our own capability and willingness to do whatever it takes to face and overcome it.
Other than assessing and understanding your whole being (genetic structure, natural body type, gender, age, diet, exercise and sleeping habit, etc.), learning the following principles will help you win the war against a formidable foe called stomach overhang:
Creating caloric deficit is a smart and effective move that could help you steadily shed unwanted flabby mass and weight. It was learned that you could lose a pound per week by burning 3500 more calories than the total amount you will consume in the same period.
You can ask assistance from a licensed dietitian or consult an online calorie calculator app in working out the numbers.
Another thing, focus more on nutritional value rather than the number. A 100-cal cake can never substitute for a 100-cal portion of kale, nor a 100-cal carbohydrate can match the nutritional value of a 100-cal amount of protein. Paying attention to these details will significantly increase the effectiveness of this scheme.
Hormones equally influence weight and fat gain as calories. Let us take a closer look at these regulatory substances our body produce to circulate nutrients and quicken bodily cells and tissues to function.
To be more precise, we will cast a spotlight on Insulin; the hormone deployed by the pancreas to distribute blood sugar (glucose) within our system as an energy source.
Like having built-in sensors, once insulin adequately supplied the energy requirement of each cell and tissue, they will stop the flow and deposit any surplus to adipose tissues as a reserve fuel.
Sadly though, most of these “storage units” reside in our midsection and have the tendency to expand as their stockpile grew.
And since insulin also acts as blood sugar regulator, their level also tends to spike when we consume food or drinks that contain high sugar level.
Worse offenders, in this case, are refined carbs and those that contain high fructose and sucrose. Insulin upsurge also means an increase in activity, which is not good; as your body does not break down fat while these hormones are in motion.
Again, those adipocytes (or in layman’s term: fat cells) stored in your stomach overhang are energy fuels that are meant for burning and utilization. You have to use it to lose it.
Incinerate it to eliminate it, and there is no other way to do it but through regular, and in this case, intense physical exertion. You gotta move it, move it! (Hear the music playing in your head yet?)
Cardio exercises such as running, swimming, aerobic or Zumba session are valuable tools to lose the excess weight and keep it off. It is also great for keeping your heart and blood circulation healthy.
However, if you want to somehow get a faster result in trimming down the fat not only in your midsection but your entire body, then you should do HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training.
It alternates exercise segments that require all-out burst of energy with moderate pace bits. For example, it was learned that you burn more calories on the treadmill if you alternate an all-out 10-second sprints with 20-second walking pace for 20 minutes rather than running on it at steady moderate pace for 30 minutes.
Weight training is also a faster way to torch the fat. When you build lean muscle mass, your body continues to burn fat even when it is at rest or in the recovery phase. I know you heard it many times before that spot reduction doesn’t work particularly in your midsection.
If you are going to start a weight training program, be sure to include compounds such as squats, barbell presses, and supersets, wherein you workout various muscle groups, perhaps including the abdominals, all at the same time. If you can’t afford a gym membership, you can find a lot of fitness tutorials online.
Many of us don’t even realize that we also burn calories while digesting the food and drink we consumed. However, we metabolize each macronutrient and burn their caloric content differently.
Studies determined that we burn 4-5 times more calories digesting protein than carbohydrates, and up to 10 times higher compared to fat.
Another thing is, we usually burn twice as much calorie digesting whole foods than heavily processed food. For instance, it was found out that we could torch twice as much of the calorie content of a whole wheat bread than a white bread (made from refined grains) of equal size and weight.
To wrap up, besides opting for whole foods, you should go more for nourishment with low glycemic index and high burn-up rate. No matter what the box says, so-called vitamin-enriched breakfast cereals will never be better than say, eggs and potatoes to start your day.
Always choose lean poultry or cattle meat slices or fish over burgers, hotdogs, and sausages. Go for high-protein, high-fiber, low-carb, and low-fat diet. Not only that proteins help boost our metabolism, they are also essential for building muscles and burning fats.
You also need a lot of antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables as well as sufficient hydration from good ol’ water to achieve your fitness goal. Equally important: try to abstain or limit your intake of sugary food and drinks, trans fat, saturated fat, alcohol and other substance that can cause stomach inflammation.
When you are stressed, your body system shifts to survival or panic mode, or commonly called the “fight or flight” state. Going back to hormones, not only that you get a sudden insulin spike when agitated, your body also unleashes an army of cortisol, also known as “stress hormones”.
When this happens, you get an upsurge of appetite for so-called “stress food” such as sweet and salty treats like candies, ice cream or chips. Again, your body burn only a small portion of the caloric content of processed food, the rest are deposited in your adipose cells and tissues.
Some of the most effective methods to combat stress include getting regular restful sleep (7-8 hours a night), prayer and meditation, exercise, nature walk, music appreciation, and strong and pleasant human connection (spouse, family, friends, church, etc.).
To sum up, the principles that we discussed are:
What better acronym to remember each point than the globally known game that depicts a battle between two kingdoms. It’s a battle of wit, strategy and strong will to win. It’s important to remember that in order to overcome stomach overhang, you have to be smart and prepare accordingly.
If this article has helped you prepare and establish healthier habits, leave a comment below regarding your experience. I also encourage you to share this with your friends.