I am 30, female, and weigh 70 kg with a height of 1.56m. I have a lot of fat building up around my stomach which is quite embarrassing. I’ve been exercising and skipping meals. but they have not been of any help. I’m also developing stretch marks. Please help.

I wish I had a magic herb to recommend. But it is impossible to find an exercise to ‘spot reduce’ fat from the stomach or waist. Fatty tissue which is stored around the abdomen carries a greater health risk than fat located in the around the hips and thighs. Waist circumference and fat-distribution is more important than your actual weight, in predicting future health risks. Where we store fat is largely a combination of gender, age and genetic inheritance. Some studies show that abdominal fat can develop as a result of stress.

Losing 10 kg would bring you to the healthy weight range. Losing a kg of fat a week is a sensible goal. For that you will need to spend approx. 8000 more calories than you eat that week, through increased physical activity or decreased eating or both.

An hour’s walk can burn around 130kcal which is just equivalent to the calorie value of a croissant! So, what you eat is more important in a weight lose program. Ayurvedic approach to weight reduction is a person centric approach instead of ‘One bullet for all’.

An Ayurveda consultation can help you in determining your body type. Kapha body types have higher BMI than Vata and Pitta body types. Eating right kind of food for each body type is also important in an Ayurvedic perspective.

As per our biological clock; the hormone Melatonin begins to produce by 7-8pm preparing our physiology to sleep. However, several of us go for exercise after 7 pm and dinner closer to midnight; which is another lifestyle mistake. Exercise in the morning or day time is healthier. You may also consult a doctor to rule out any gastro-intestinal disorders like IBS which can result in bloating of stomach.

Monitor and revise your food habits, increase the non-caloric items like green leafy vegetables, and fruits (except bananas).

Reduce uncooked foods. Follow a healthy weight loss diet (1250 – 1400 kcal), combined with fitness exercises and a stomach-toning exercise to tighten and strengthen abdominal muscles. Reducing a fat stomach takes time - especially if you are an apple-shape. So, be patient. Your fat belly will disappear with consistency.

• Eat healthy foods in smaller portions, and aim for slightly more protein and slightly less processed carbohydrates and oils.

• Drink as much water as possible: it aids digestion and fat burning.

• Remain active and cut out sugar and beverages like soda.

• Consult a doctor to rule out any underlying causes of weight gain (eg. Thyroid problems).

• There are a few ayurvedic therapies which may prove beneficial.

You may take 5g Venga (Pterocarpus marsupium) powder boiled with water once daily. Thriphala choornam (5 grams) can also be used in this way.