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How to maintain a slim waist

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Dear Ugandan Health,

I have a fat tummy by any standards. In an effort to reduce it, I have exercised for quite a long time with no success.

What else can one do to reduce tummy fat?
Winnie

Dear Winnie,

Intentional weight loss aimed at improving health or physical appearance is desirable but requires a lot of sacrifice. There are many myths and wonder drugs rumored to reduce weight, trim tummies and generally improve one’s general state but many of them are a sham.

To understand the true concept of weight loss, you should first understand weight gain and factors involved therein. Weight loss or gain is about energy balance, the difference between intake and output. When the body takes in more than it can use, the balance is stored as fat and when the body requires more than you take in, it breaks down fat tissue and later muscle tissues thereby losing weight.

Distribution of weight is usually hormone dependent with young women accumulating fat on hips and breasts while men accumulate it on the anterior abdominal wall (tummy) head and chest. Older persons, both men and women tend to have a more central distribution of fat (big bellies).Women especially after childbirth may retain a sagging tummy too.

This type of weight distribution is associated with increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and some cancers. Generally speaking, weight loss is about reducing intake and increasing output of energy. In detail, the following are involved.

Reducing calorie intake: Different foods have different energy content with fats highest while fruits and vegetables lowest. It’s recommended that fats which have the highest calorie content should be reduced. Increase in foods with little or no nutritional value like roughages is highly recommended. A dietician could help you frame a meal plan based on foods available to you.

Reducing frequency. It’s important to reduce the number of times you eat and better still to regularise your meals. On average, three meals are recommended with no snacks in between.

Reducing volumes: The amount of food eaten at each sitting should be reduced too. You need to match your energy needs with volumes eaten. For instance, many of us have our functional times in the morning; therefore, a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and little or no supper at all would be ideal to match energy usage.

Increasing daily activity: The number of activities in our daily life that can improve energy usage are many. You could choose to walk to work, climb stairs instead of taking a lift, do your own housework, walk your dog or deliver that letter by hand to your office colleague instead of calling.

Exercise: 

Woman doing physical exercises

This is intentional addition of more physical exertion. It could be done from a gym or at home. However to benefit, you need to set targets and have a progressive increase in activity. Get a digital weighing machine and a tape measure to keep track of those subtle changes. Do the appropriate exercises for the appropriate results. A gym instructor can help with this.

Finally, remember, weight is gained over time; therefore, give yourself realistic goals. Crash dieting may give you other complications; so are crash gym schedules. Go slowly but progressively.

Also Read: Malaria – Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention in Uganda

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