Health & Fitness

Getting rid of stubborn potbellies

belly fat

Although fat is found in nearly all body parts, belly fat can be the toughest to shed. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

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Summary

  • Fitness trainer Justus Ngumi says a potbelly signals that one is unhealthy. By then, he explains, probably most organs in the body are covered in fat and it takes a change of lifestyle, proper diet plan, and training to reverse the situation.
  • The trainers warn that results will not be instant but will take between six and eight months to start showing. The first three months are for one to get into a proper training habit.
  • "People do one or two months and if they don’t see change, then they drop out forgetting that it took longer to be where they are themselves.”

Although fat is found in nearly all body parts, belly fat can be the toughest to shed.

It is even harder now that sedentary life seems to have crept in as more people prefer to work from home.

It is unsurprising, therefore, that more people are spotting pot bellies as the little exercises they used to put in during their commute to the office ceases.

Potbellies are caused by the build-up of adipose tissue that manifests as fats found under the skin (subcutaneous fat) and around internal organs, also known as visceral fat.

Fitness trainer Justus Ngumi says a potbelly signals that one is unhealthy. By then, he explains, probably most organs in the body are covered in fat and it takes a change of lifestyle, proper diet plan, and training to reverse the situation.

He, however, points out that most people give up easily, thinking they think can spot-train a potbelly, which is not possible.

“You cannot choose where to lose fat, it is your body that does so. An overweight person will start losing fat from where he gained it last. For example from the face and lastly the potbelly where it all started,” he explains.

The most important step to winning the war against belly fat is being conscious about the food one takes, says the trainer.

This means avoiding foods that make one pile a lot of energy, which if unused, is stored up in the body in the form of fat.

Particularly, Ngumi recommends that one do away with junk, carbonated drinks, and foods with lots of fats like red meat.

“Change to lean foods like white meat fish, chicken, and meat. Avoid energy foods because if the body does not use the energy, then it stores it in form of fat,” he warns.

He, however, advises that if one is to go for carbohydrates, then complex ones like arrow roots, sweet potatoes, brown rice, brown bread are recommended, but in moderation.

“We say that fitness starts from your kitchen, so to burn extra calories you should create a calories-deficit food intake. This means that if you want to burn 3,000 calories, then you have to take less than 3,000 calories,” adds Eustace Mutahi, also a fitness trainer.

After getting the diet right, the next remedy is strength training. Weight exercises burn fat and build muscles, reducing the percentage of body fat and toning up the body.

Ngumi points out that resistance training like squats, deadlift, bench press, and bend over rows boost metabolism, ensuring prolonged maintenance of an efficient fat-burning rate even after the workout.

workout

AV Fitness Trainer Justus Ngumi demonstrates a Cross Mountain Climber where you drag right knee towards the left elbow and vice versa at the gym on February 26, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

“If it is heavy strength training then one can do between six and eight repetitions of like five sets three times a week. But for endurance, then you can do between 10 and 15 repetitions of three sets three times a week.”

Additionally, he recommends that one should focus on exercises that are good for stability as they work on abdominal (abs) muscles through a variety of workouts including plank holds, oblique/side crunches, sit-ups, and leg raises.

The trainer, however, warns that the exercises have to be carried out in proper form to minimise the risk of injuries.

“Every strength training, the core is involved. When you focus on the core alone then you can do it two to three days a week. The more repetitions you have, the fewer sets and vice versa. It also depends on the weight because the heavier you go, the fewer repetitions but more sets,” he says.

Ngumi also recommends hypertrophy workout which involves exercising by utilising low to intermediate repetition ranges with progressive overload.

Such workouts involve between three and five sets of between six and 12 repetitions with a rest period of up to two minutes.

The last bit should be cardio exercises like jogging, jumping ropes, brisk walking, boxing, rowing, interval training (sprinting then walking), and swimming, which is one of the best cardio workouts as it exercises the whole body and can be done by individuals with joints or knee issues.

“One can also use elliptical training machines if you have bad joints or issues with knees. Elliptical trainers can help burn calories, reduce belly fat and tone the body.”

Mutahi also roots for aerobic workouts, saying that one can perform inchworm exercise by standing on both feet then with both arms, reach towards the tip of your toes then go back to the starting point.

Then there are also the plank jacks, which can be high or low. This involves stretching the arms as if performing push-ups then jump out and in. This targets the abs.

The trainers warn that results will not be instant but will take between six and eight months to start showing. The first three months are for one to get into a proper training habit.

“Do not rush because you did not get the pot belly in three months. Keep pushing yourself every single day. People do one or two months and if they don’t see change, then they drop out forgetting that it took longer to be where they are themselves.”