How to Lose Belly Fat! The Causes and Most Effective Ways to Lose Belly Fat with a 12 Point Guide to Losing Belly Fat
How to Lose Belly Fat – Index of Contents:
- What’s Belly Fat
- What Causes Belly Fat
- What Foods Cause Belly Fat
- Belly Fat and Alcohol
- Belly Fat and Cortisol
- How to Lose Belly Fat
- 12 Point Guide to Lose Belly Fat
Belly fat is a major problem for millions worldwide and the causes of belly fat are numerous. In this post we’re taking a full examination of the causes of belly fat and, more importantly, how to lose belly fat naturally. ‘Naturally’ being through safe and natural methods using diet and exercise. So if you have (or know someone who is suffering from excess belly fat) and want to learn how to lose belly fat, then take a seat, grab yourself a drink and read on. I lost mine and kept it off for Over 20 years. Hopefully you will learn how to lose your belly fat and keep it off using the following advice.
First things first, lets recap on what is belly fat, what causes it and the health issues it creates so you are in no doubt whatsoever, about the potential devastation belly fat can cause on your life / lifestyle.
So, What’s Belly Fat?
Belly fat (also known as stomach fat or abdominal fat) is the fat stored ,as you may imagine, within your abdominal area. Whilst fat can be stored throughout the body (hips, shoulders, chest, thighs, arms), in this discussion we are solely focusing on belly fat – the fat that is stored in our belly or abdominal area. Belly fat is generally the first type of fat we accumulate. In the early stages belly fat can be lost relatively easily but left to build it can become very serious health problem for you….
Numerous researches reveal the potentially catastrophic effects of belly fat on an individual’s health – justifying the 12 reasons to lose weight. These catastrophic effects include :
- Increased chances of heart diseases
- Insulin Resistance
- Heart Disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Death in Diabetics
- Even Some Cancers have it as their root cause (prostate cancer, colon / bowel cancer and breast cancer )
The 2 Types of Belly Fat…
There are two distinct types of belly fat each having their own issues in regards to your health and also in how they are removed. The differences depend upon the lifestyle. Poor diet and lack of effective exercise are the primary causes of both visceral and subcutaneous belly fat.
Two Types of Belly Fat : Subcutaneous and Visceral. Subcutaneous Fat is easier to lose with simple dietary improvements. Rapid loss of subcutaneous fat can be achieved in a clean eating weight loss plan that incorporates H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training).
The Visceral Fat (fat that surrounds the organs inside the body cavity) needs a longer, more intense diet and exercise regime.
Image : Adobe/zhenyakot
- Visceral Body Fat. Visceral body fat (which can also be deposited inside the abdominal area) is the fat stored around the internal organs of the body and is potentially the most lethal as it can ‘strangle’ the organs and effectively cause multiple organ failure. Fat deposits around the liver, kidneys and heart can have catastrophic effects on other parts of the body. Fat deposits potentially resulting in death or severe disablement through oxygen starvation to the brain, muscles and other organs. Nutrient supply to the body’s organs are also restricted causing a wealth of health related issues – loss of brain function / disease, loss of muscle tissue leading to a further increase in fat deposits, poor skin condition, poor hair condition, loss of energy and vitality.
- Subcutaneous Belly Fat. The second type of belly fat (subcutaneous belly fat) is the fat which which sits just under the skin. In our early years, this was also known as ‘puppy fat’. This is the easiest type of belly fat to remove or burn off. This can be done easily through a healthy low carb diet (low carb diets reduce the volume of useless and dangerous carbohydrates entering the body). Wheat and wheat based products are probably the biggest causes of excess fat deposits and the obesity epidemic – a subject to be discussed in greater detail in another article.
The Health Risks Associated with Belly Fat
As discussed previously there are many health risks associated with belly fat. These include (but not limited to)…
- Increased risk of Cholesterol build up in our veins and arteries. This can cause arteriosclerosis and artherosclerosis.
- Prostate cancer in men,
- Cardiovacular Disease / Cardiac Arrest
- High Blood Pressure
- Breast Cancer
- Diabetes Type 2
- Dementia and Alzheimers Disease
- Colon Cancer
- and many more..
What Causes Belly Fat?
In order to fully understand how to lose belly fat (in any of your preferred ways), we need to understand what causes belly fat. There are numerous causes of belly fat including :
- Poor diet / diet rich in sugary foods and carbohydrates.
- Excess Alcohol Consumption
- Chronic Stress Causing Elevated levels of Cortisol resulting in the cycle of fat storage
- Lack of Effective Fat Burning Exercise
Now, you may already know or understand some of the reasons but let’s recap on the causes…
Which Foods Cause Belly Fat?
Foods high in carbohydrates (sugar, starches and wheat based carbohydrates) are the primary cause of dietary related belly fat. High dietary sugar content has been shown to reduce the ability of a person to reduce fat and can slow down the metabolic process. Products marked low in fat are usually high in sugar to increase the flavour. Sugar also causes and addiction due to it’s pleasing taste and is another reason why manufacturers use sugar in their products.
Research has also revealed a direct connection between belly fat and high sugar content, particularly through the use of High Fructose sugar. While this research has its merits, it should also be noted that the research focused on sugars only and NOT the overall benefits. Fruits containing high sugar content can also be rich in essential vitamins and minerals which can promote weight loss and more importantly permanent weight loss.
Trans fats cause inflammation. Leading scientists and researchers have confirmed that inflammation is the biggest problem behind the worlds obesity epidemic. According to the American Heart Association, replacement of trans fats with whole fat, grains, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can decrease the risk of heart diseases, insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity as a whole .
While performing essential functions in the human body (energy processes and electrolyte production), carbohydrates cause many health problems. Specifically in the type of carbohydrate and volume of consumption.
After each meal, carbohydrates are turned into glucose (a type of sugar). From here there are 3 pathways for the glucose:
- Consumed immediately as fuel for activity
- Stored in the liver as Glycogen
- Converted (with insulin) into fatty acids to be circulated around the body and stored as fat in adipose tissue (the fat cells).
While immediate consumption and normal levels of liver storage are not cause for concern (we can safely store sufficient glycogen in the liver for essential use and use in survival mode). It is the excess that is converted into fats and stored in the fat cells that causes the problems. Within 4-8 hrs, any excess glucose from overeating is stored in the fat cells.
To reduce the fat storage, it is necessary to reduce the excess consumption of carbohydrates.
Starch Based Carbohydrates – Potatoes
While there is nutritional evidence supporting the continued consumption of potatoes, there still remain issues with the full nutritional benefit. Potatoes are starchy and consequently contain high amounts of carbohydrates. White potatoes have a higher glycaemic index than sweet potatoes causing a higher sugar spike on energy release within the body. However, white potatoes have a 3x higher satiety value compared to white bread.
Fried potatoes can have 3 x the caloric intake compared with boiled potatoes!
Starchy foods produce acrylamide, a potentially harmful chemical, when a person cooks them at high temperatures for a sustained time. The FDA Trusted Source says that acrylamide is a human health concern.
Wheat Based Carbohydrates – Bread, Cakes, Pies, Pastries and Pasta,
Wheat Based Carbohydrates such as doughnuts, cakes, bread, pastries, pasties and pasta are all high carb / low nutrient foods with a darker side than the press / medical professionals / food manufacturing and government health officials will tell you (they have a vested interest in the continued production and consumption of these foods).
Wheat also contains “anti-nutrients” which limit the absorption of the healthy nutrients (vitamins and minerals) we actually need in our diet.
Belly Fat and Alcohol Consumption.
Excess alcohol consumption can also cause an increase in visceral fat, especially around the liver. Excess alcohol consumption can cause cirrhosis of the liver on its own. Adding the excess fat into the equation increases the risks of cirrhosis of the liver and an increase in the risk of cancers, heart diseases, reproductive disorders and many more issues .
Lack of Exercise.
You are probably aware that we all need to exercise in order to stay fit and healthy. The problem arises in the frequent misconception / poor advice on what constitutes effective and healthy exercise. Now, exercises come into a variety of classes and purposes. Studies have repeatedly shown that high intensity interval training (hiit) is the ONLY effective fat burning exercise / fat loss workout. Cardiovascular exercise has been proven to be counterproductive through numerous studies and can actually increase belly fat through our stress hormone Cortisol.
Belly Fat and Stress.
Now, we all get stressed from time to time. Employment / lack of employment and the stresses incurred through employment in these everchanging and challenging times. Family issues, housing issues and health related issues all contribute to our elevated stress levels. Chronic (or prolonged periods of stress) causes an increase in cortisol levels. High cortisol levels cause the body to store excess fat in the abdomen for use later. However, ‘later’ rarely comes with the appropriate countermeasures, ie fat burning exercises, reduced stress levels and improved diet. Without these countermeasures put into effect the fat storage cycle continues with a constant increase in belly fat giving rise to elevated and dangerous health issues (cardiovascular disease, cardiac arrest, prostate cancer. 
How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally
Now you have an understanding of how belly fat occurs, we can now reveal to you how to lose belly fat naturally. “Naturally” being without surgical intervention or dietary pills, fat burners etc.
Learning how to lose belly fat naturally will help you understand what causes belly fat and how to avoid the causes of belly fat. You can then use this knowledge to keep your belly fat under control for a lean belly or (with the right workout, lose the excess belly fat and body fat to improve your body composition and build your own six pack.
12 Point Guide to How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally…
Belly fat is typically the first place our bodies store excess fat and can be reduced (and completely eliminated) by engaging in a healthy eating (reduced carb intake with high nutrient intake) and effective fat burning exercises. It is not only unwanted but dangerous so reducing the fat for a healthy and long life is of utmost importance. Belly fat, as with overall body fat, can be reduced by doing the following lifestyle modifications.
#1. Stay hydrated.
Hydration has been shown to flush out toxins and free radicals that can cause inflammation. Water also aids in the digestive process. When you are dehydrated, your kidneys hold on to water forcing you to become constipated. Aim to drink 1 Liter of clean, sugar free water a day and avoid the “soft drinks” including energy drinks. It has also been successfully demonstrated that a glass of cold (or ice cold) water with pure lemon juice can be a very effective way to burn excess fat aswell as being very refreshing on a hot summers day. Drinking water instead of soda’s also reduces your intake of sugars and the calories they bring in with the excess glucose.
However, do not drink excessive amounts of water in the belief that more hydration is better. Research reveals that large volumes of water do not improve our weight loss goals. Recent research into water consumption has brought some surprising revelations…..
Drinking Cold Water can have serious implications for your digestive health. Chilled water (aswell as some cold beverages) contract the blood vessels and also restrict digestion [ ]. Drinking cold water immediately after a meal also interferes with your body’s ability to break down fats. Reducing the size of our blood vessels reduces the flow of essential vitamins, minerals, glucose, hemoglobins etc to our muscles and organs. Energy and nutrients we need to perform effectively.
Drink water at 22 Deg C. Dr Michael Boschman and Colleagues at the Humbolt University in Berlin researched the effects of water temp on consumption. Their research indicates that drinking water at 22Deg C creates 30KJ greater energy expenditure than water at 37 Deg C. Another study published in the “Journal of Sports Science and Medicine” reveals that drinking cool water at 16Deg C is optimum for exercising in heat and maintaining a low core temp.
#2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables.
A healthy diet rich in the micro-nutrients (Vitamins, Minerals and amino acids) with a low carbohydrate content will increase your fat burning potential and help you lose belly fat naturally. These foods contain more of the essential micronutrients that actively increase our fat burning potential and increase our metabolism
Peaches for Weight Loss?
Peaches are rich in fructose (a natural sugar / carbohydrate) but also provide pectin which has been shown to promote long term / permanent weight loss.
Peaches and their Counterparts Nectarines and Apricots have been shown to pro-actively promote weight loss and potentially permanent weight loss through their high nutrient density including Pectin (Pectin has been shown to promote permanent weight loss).
However, new research reveals the natural sugars (fructose) have a dark side and interfere with multiple physiological systems. Limit your sweet fruits intake.
Fruits and most vegetables are a rich source of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, amino acids and ‘micro chemicals’ (phytochemicals et al). These are full of beneficial antioxidants that cleans the cells and take toxins out of the body creating a more efficient metabolic state and the inherent increase in fat burning.
Healthy eating including a rich variety of fruits and vegetables introduces a wide variety of beneficial nutrients – Vitamins and Minerals that contribute to overall health aswell as weight loss.
However, not ALL fruits and Vegetables burn fat equally. As discussed with Peaches. While they are high in beneficial nutrients, they are also high in natural sugars (carbohydrates). The best fruits and vegetables for burning fat and that includes belly fat are low sugar, low toxin foods such as oranges, grapefruit (which has a long standing reputation for healthy eating and detoxing the body) , lemons, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, avocado,
#3 Increase Your Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fibers, phytochemicals, Phytoestrogens, Anti-inflammatory agents and polyphenols. Eating fruits and vegetables help in protecting the body from many diseases. Eat at least 5 x 100g portions of nutrient rich fruit and vegetables / day.. One half of your plate should be nutrient dense fruits and vegetables in every meal.
Lose Belly Fat – Improve Your Fat Cell Health
Antioxidants help to cleanse the fat cells in our body. By cleansing the fat cells we can increase transfer of energy into and out of the cells as required. This singular act makes our energy consumption more efficient while reducing the fat build up. Antioxidant rich food is also good for cardiovascular health. It lowers the risk of inflammations and infections in the body, prevents the risk of cancers and provides immunity. Foods rich in antioxidants are blueberry, raspberry, nuts.
#4 Eat More Seeds and Legumes.
Most common Antioxidants are Vitamin C and E found in Citrus fruits and green vegetables etc. Many seeds also help in reducing weight loss as they are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. Sources are: Flax seeds, Fennel seeds, Pumpkin seeds, etc.
#5 Increase Saturated / Dietary Fats Intake.
Proteins For Weight Loss.
With a diverse supply of proteins available we need to ensure we are consuming sufficient proteins. Proteins supply our bodies with the correct energy source to nourish our many physiological processes and actually make us feel fuller than a carb rich meal. While there is evidence to show that animal based proteins are more beneficial than plant based (animal based proteins have complete protein chains (protein chains with a full compliment of amino acids), whereas plant based have incomplete protein chains.
Researchers have also correlated this phenomenon in their numerous studies .
Saturated fats have had a rough time with the health professionals and press lately. The “initial scare” to frighten people away from fats was the ill conceived notion that “Fats Make You Fat”. That was an out and out lie from those we look to for health advice and they still hold onto that lie fearing a “U-Turn” would discredit them.
Fact of the Matter with Saturated Fats. 2 Doctors were studying their patients in separate, unrelated clinical studies thousands of miles apart and without even knowing each other. 1 Doctor was studying how he could help his patients with intestinal issues, the other treating cardiovascular health concerns. Both Doctors resolved their patients health problems with a diet high in saturated and dietary fats. The surprising benefit for both groups was that all the patients lost their abdominal fat reserves. 2 separate and unconnected studies resulting in saturated fats being beneficial to gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health AND reduction of belly fat.
Potassium binds with water and removes excess water from the body. Water weighs in at 1kg / litre. Losing just 1 litre of excess water will cause you to lose ~1kg (2.2lbs) of excess weight. This water removal process is the fundamental principle in the 1st week of the keto diet.
Lose Belly Fat Naturally with Micro-Nutrient Rich Foods Like Avocado
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats. They are also rich in other beneficial micronutrients and minerals like Potassium. Vitamins K, Riboflavin, Niacin, B5 Pantothenic Acid, B6 Pyridoxine and Folate.
100g Avocado provides 20% RDA of Folate, 18% Vit K, 10% Riboflavin, 11% Niacin, 28% Pantothenic Acid (B5) which is used in energy creation alongside Vit B6 Pyridoxine (20% RDA). Avocados also contain Persenones A & B which have protective properties against inflammation. Avocados have also been shown to help treat metabolic syndrome and have the strongest effect on lipid levels (HDL, & LDL Cholesterols and Triglycerides).
Other Potassium rich foods include Grapefruit, Orange, Kiwi, Mango, Peaches and Nectarines, Banana, Cantaloupe Melon, Brussel Sprouts, Spinach, Kale, Cauliflower, Artichoke and Swiss Chard to name but a few.
Keto diet apart, any healthy eating plan focusing on a healthy balance of micronutrients, proteins and dietary fats should include healthy volumes of Potassium-rich foods.
#7 Exercise – HITT Workouts Burn Fat Fast and Build Muscle Tone.
High Intensity Interval Training is one of the most effective ways to burn belly fat. Research by independent fat burning experts reveal it is absolutely vital to engage in a HIIT workout that uses multiple groups of muscles at the same time. Utilising more muscle groups simultaneously forces your body to extract more fat from your stored fat cells including abdominal / belly fat.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a popular form of exercise that has been shown to be effective for weight loss and body composition modification. A recent analysis shows that HIIT is as effective as moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in inducing weight loss and body composition modification and superior in some cases.
HIIT is an anaerobic exercise that works by depriving the muscles of oxygen during brief bursts of high-intensity exercise. It helps the body burn fat even 1-2 days after you leave the gym. HIIT may be more effective at decreasing body fat when compared to more traditional forms of exercise.
Studies have demonstrated HIIT’s impressive ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercise. Some researchers have even found that HIIT increases your metabolism after exercise more so than jogging or weight training. HIIT offers meaningful benefits in reducing abdominal and total body fat in 50% of the time as compared to steady-state training.
However, it is important to note that weight loss is 100% dependent on being in a calorie deficit, and 100% independent of the method used to accomplish that. HIIT could be a time-efficient method for improving fitness and increasing calorie expenditure
#8 Reduce Stress to Reduce Belly Fat.
Increased levels of Cortisol causes the body to retain excess fat for use later. Take a walk in a peaceful environment away from all your daily stresses – wether it be employment, finances, friends or family. We ALL need that time to relax.
Reducing stress has numerous benefits for both mental and physical health. Chronic stress can lead to health problems such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. Stress can also cause destructive behaviors such as overeating, smoking, and drinking. However, reducing stress can lead to better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved digestion, reduced muscle tension, and boosted immune function. Stress management can also improve mental health, concentration, and creativity.
Techniques for managing stress include planning ahead, prioritizing tasks, preparing for stressful events, taking time to relax, getting active, eating healthy, finding solutions to problems, and talking to friends and family.
By reducing our stress levels, we inherently reduce the levels of cortisol which cause the body to store fat in the abdomen.
Reduce Stress : Reduce Belly Fat!
#9 Restrict Alcohol Intake
Beer is probably the biggest cause of alcohol induced abdominal fat. While wine and shorts contain more alcohol (and should also be reduced) beer brings with it the volume. Many beer drinkers think nothing of consuming 4 pints/ day. Some will even drink 8 pints per day causing not only the definative “beer belly” but also causing more serious health conditions such as cirrhosis and higher risks of cardiovascular disease, T2 diabetes etc. Wine drinkers tend to limit themselves to 1 or 2 small glasses. As a hobbyist
Recommended Alcohol Intake to Lose Belly Fat
Beer Consumption. Beer is a very carbohydrate rich drink with very little benefit in terms of nutrition. Containing only sugars (carbohydrate) which are partially converted into alcohol, beers should be limited to 1 unit/ week.
Wine Consumption. Wine (esp dry red wine) contains beneficial nutrients from the grapes. While wine generally contains higher levels of alcohol than beer, red wine (when consumed in moderation) has been shown to improve gut health. Red wine also contains micronutrient Resveratrol which has been known to improve brain health. Consumption should be limited to 3 small glasses per week.
Spirits and Liqueurs. Spirits and Liqueurs are more potent than wine or beer having a higher alcohol content AND a higher sugar content. While spirits and Liqueurs do not have the volume of beers, they bring in a higher concentration of sugars into the body which have been shown historically to damage blood vessels causing inflammation – hardened spirit drinkers can be spotted with the distinctive “red nose”. The hidden dangers of spirits are an increased risk of cirrhosis of the liver.
#10 Reduce Highly Refined Salt Intake.
Avoid foods with increased salts in them as it retains water in the body. Natural Sea Salt is less refined and contains a higher level of beneficial nutrients (minerals) compared to highly refined cooking or table salt. Sea Salt also increases the natural flavour of boiled vegetables. Salt also cause bloating. Avoid processed and ready to eat foods as they are high in salts and esp MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). Monosodium Glutamate is a manufactured variant of salt which should be avoided. Choose more naturally occurring salts.
Sodium is the primary mineral in salt and is used by the body for 3 main reasons ; conduct nerve impulses, help contract and relax muscles and to help maintain proper balance of water and minerals. While there are numerous health benefits to Sodium, as with all macro and micro nutrients their individual intake volumes need to be controlled for optimum benefit. The recommended dietary intake of Sodium is 500 – 2300mg/ day.
1X5ml teaspoon of salt weighs 5g. 5g Salt contains about 2000mg Sodium. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300mg Sodium per day.
While we need salt for its numerous benefits, choose more naturally occurring salts and limit their intake to 5g or 1 teaspoon per day. Do not forget salt is included in many food products – both raw and processed.
#11 Protein Rich Foods.
Consume more protein rich food. Protein rich foods have been proven to increase your levels of satiety. Protein reduces hunger, boosts metabolism and is used to build muscles. Muscles are energy demanding and require higher consumption of nutrients and energy to maintain their volume – energy that is extracted from your daily nutritional intake. This energy consumption prevents reduced storage of excess energy which would other wise be deposited in your fat cells.
Add complete protein sources to your diet. A complete protein is a protein which includes all the essential amino acids in them…
- red meat. Grass fed red meat contains more vitamins, minerals and whole proteins than white meat or plant based sources)
- poultry (Always choose free range and NOT corn fed)
- fish (esp oily fish such as Mackerel, Tuna, Herring, Salmon and Trout
- milk ( esp whole organic milk from grass fed cattle)
- cheese (made from whole organic milk from grass fed cattle, sheep or goats)
- yogurt (as with milk and cheese – from organic cattle, sheep and goats milk)
- hemp seeds,
- Chia seeds
- and quinoa.
#12 : Control Portion Sizes
Portion control is the key. Don’t eat too much at the same time. Your goal is to consume only as much nutrition as you actually need – excess may lead to weight gain. Not only does portion control limit your dietary intake, reducing your portions brings in a surprising benefit – Stomach Shrinkage!
When you over eat, your stomach (being an elastic tissue) will stretch to accommodate the food intake. When you reduce your food intake and replace some of the carbs with beneficial nutrients like amino acids, you are introducing more of the building blocks of healthy tissue. These building blocks include amino acids which are used in the construction of connective tissue – collagen and elastin. While primarily visible in the skin, they are also used in ALL forms of connective tissue and that includes the stomach. By increasing our intake of amino acids for collagen and elastin, we can then increase the health of the stomach tissue.
Reducing our intake (and with a healthier stomach tissue) enables the stomach tissue to contract to its “normal size”. This ‘shrinkage’ will also have the benefit of telling the brain when the stomach is full sooner than with a stretched stomach.
So, How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally – Summary
All of the individual points in the 12 point guide to losing belly fat will help you lose your belly fat on their own merit. The speed at which you lose belly fat is entirely dependant on your personal efforts and discipline.
Losing belly fat naturally can be relatively easy and cost effective. Imagine the money you could save from all that excess alcohol, junk food, visits to the Doctors / Physicians for check ups. Money saved in medical bills and gym memberships – You can lose belly fat at home even with a HIIT workout. HIIT workouts do not need expensive gym equipment or lots of space.
Upcoming Related Articles :
- How to Lose Belly Fat Fast
- How to Lose Belly Fat in a Week without Exercise
- Which Foods Burn Belly Fat
References and Citations
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- 6. “5 Ways Drinking Chilled Water Affects Your Body”