Carrying too much belly fat? It's a common problem, especially as we age. As we get older, the way we store fat naturally shifts – especially for women, who are more predisposed to carrying fat in certain places like the belly and arms.
You might take up jogging, be trying a few diets or HIIT workouts comprised of the best exercises for weight loss, but don't despair too much if you're not finding burpees to be very much fun. As well as the different tips in our how to get a slim waist guide, one new study found a diet trick that could help reorientate the way women metabolise fat, helping us to carry less of it around our middle.
The study, published by researchers at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (opens in new tab), found one avocado a day for 12 weeks could help "redistribute belly fat in women toward a healthier profile". The research looked at 105 overweight and obese adults, finding the ones who were asked to eat an avocado each day had a reduction in 'visceral' abdominal belly fat.
Visceral fat is very dangerous: it wraps around and settles over your internal organs, and can act as a precursor to diabetes. Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is lying just under your skin rather than deep in your abdomen, and that's the stuff that jiggles. While it's difficult to "spot reduce" one or the other, fat-burning exercise and a healthy diet will generally reduce both.
Illionois professor Naiman Khan writes: "Individuals with a higher proportion of that deeper visceral fat tend to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
"While daily consumption of avocados did not change glucose tolerance, what we learned is that a dietary pattern that includes an avocado every day impacted the way individuals store body fat in a beneficial manner for their health, but the benefits were primarily in females"
The healthy fats in avocados seem to help rebalance women's fat stores, but you can pick up omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from other sources, too. The Mediterranean diet is full of olive oil, nuts, seeds and oily fish – all of which are great sources of fat. You can also get omega-3 from the best fish oil supplements.
Avocados have also been found (opens in new tab) to provide an increased ability to focus on tasks in people who are overweight or obese.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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