Liposuction, endless sit ups, planks and crunches, yogi bicycles, core workouts, the latest infomercial gadget, fat burners, the newest celebrity diet . . . all of these promise to help lose belly fat and atain flatter, well-defined abs. In reality, these common misconceptions deliver very little to zero return on your investment.
Belly fat is composed of two different types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is found just beneath the skin, the fat you can grab or pinch. Visceral fat is hard, intra-abdominal fat located deep within the abdominal wall where it pads the spaces between organs such as the liver and heart. Visceral fat is the most dangerous type of belly fat and is linked to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, PCOS, gallbladder problems, non-alcoholic fatty liver, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and age-associated diseases. Visceral fat accumulation is the result of trans fats, soda, fructose, heavy alcohol consumption, processed foods, sugar, rancid vegetable oils, pesticides, a high toxic load, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, prescription and OTC drugs, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Stabilize insulin and blood sugar. Excess belly fat is an indication of insulin resistance and reduced sensitivity to insulin.
Food choice, portion control, food quality and nutrient-density are crucial to stabilize insulin, balance blood sugar and lose belly fat. It’s important to eat nutrient-dense, real food: organic protein to encourage greater fat loss, decrease intra-abdominal fat, minimize cravings, preserve muscle, fuel your brain, and stabilize blood sugar. Fill up on fiber-rich, non-starchy veggies and tons of leafy greens, low fructose fruits such as organic raspberries and blueberries, and healthy, healing fats such as whole eggs, avocado, olive oil, pastured butter, coconut oil, and raw nuts and seeds. Other belly blasters include green, oolong and yerba mate tea, hot chili peppers, turmeric, cinnamon and raw cacao.
Are you overdosing on processed carbs? Remember, there is a hormonal response to calories: 300 calories of broccoli, avocado, steak or chicken breast produce an entirely different hormonal response versus 300 calories of a bagel, sugary yogurt, cereal, juice and latte. When comparing a carb heavy diet to a diet that includes a higher amount of protein at the same amount of calories, the protein diet results in a greater amount of fat loss due to the increased thermic effect of protein.
Avoid inflammatory foods: wheat, gluten, grains, vegetable oils, non-fat and low-fat foods, dairy, sugar and artificial sweeteners, soda, soy and all processed and packaged fake foods, which are problematic for most folks, disrupt insulin, induce inflammation and increase belly fat. Minimize intake of alcohol, which spikes insulin, increases cortisol, and suppresses GH and testosterone. Sure, it’s okay to enjoy a few bites of your favorite dessert or a glass of wine every now and then, but if this is a habitual occurrence and you’re not seeing the results you desire don’t complain that you’re unable to lose belly fat. Realize that If you’re drinking a couple of glasses of wine every night, it will be very difficult to lose belly fat. Be accountable and take responsibility. Maintain a food journal for a couple of weeks, which can be a real eye-opener.
Healthy functioning adrenals. Balance cortisol and manage stress hormones. When cortisol levels are chronically elevated or extremely low, fat is gained particularly in the belly. Abdominal fat has up to four times more cortisol receptors than fat in other parts of the body making belly fat highly sensitive to the fat increasing effects of circulating cortisol. Women tend to be more sensitive to cortisol imbalances.
What causes cortisol disruption? It’s no secret that chronic stress triggers cortisol release. Cortisol rises in response to stressors such as pain, inflammation, elevated blood sugar, poor food choice, eating foods you’re sensitive to, sleep deprivation, excessive exercising, underlying emotional stress and mental overload, blue light at night, struggling relationships and the list goes on. Stress can be physical in nature, mental, emotional, spiritual, electronic (WiFi sensitivity, EMFs) or environmental.
The more stress and anxiety you experience, the more dysfunction your adrenals undergo and the greater your weight, especially belly fat.
The good news is there’s more confirmation on the positive effects of meditation and increased mindfulness as an antidote for reducing belly fat due to lower stress and cortisol levels. Consistent meditation practice, yin yoga, restorative yoga, increased mindfulness, spending time in nature, honoring yourself, minimizing screen time and less busyness are surefire solutions for reducing belly fat, lowering stress, anxiety and balancing cortisol.
The late Robert Crayhon, M.S., a brilliant, gifted and respected nutritionist and author said “pleasure is the most important nutrient.” Determine what brings you joy, inner peace and happiness, and practice it regularly. Decompress your mind and body with some of my favorite Stress-less Solutions.
Sleep – snooze to lose! When you’re sleep deprived, cortisol levels rise. Just a few nights of poor sleep can make your cells resistant to insulin, which triggers increased belly fat. Just four nights of short sleep decreases insulin sensitivity of fat cells by a whopping 30%. Sleeping less than eight hours a night is counter-productive to fat burning, so get some sleep if you want to lose belly fat! Check out some of my favorite sleep tips.
Tame the flame – reduce inflammation. The bigger the belly, the smaller the brain, and the more inflamed you are. Just about every disease and chronic health problem stems from excess inflammation. What’s to blame? Let’s start with poor food choice and food quality. The Standard American Diet (SAD), heavy carb intake, excess alcohol, sugary treats, super-sized sodas and syrupy lattes, rancid vegetable oils, fructose, antibiotic- and hormone-injected frankenmeats, and processed, packaged, fast and fake foods.
Other causes of inflammation include underlying infections, food sensitivities, dehydration, gut dysfunction, digestive problems, leaky gut and harmful bacteria, sleep deprivation, chemical exposure, chronic stress, WiFi sensitivity, injuries and toxic overload.
Nix the inflammatory foods. The top offenders include wheat and grains, gluten, sugar, soy, vegetable oils, trans fats, corn, artificial sweeteners and pasteurized dairy products. Refer back to tip #1, keep in mind that anything that creates a high insulin response also promotes inflammation.
Your gut can become inflamed from any foreign substance, such as rancid cooking oils, environmental toxins, parasites, fungus and yeast or foods your body’s sensitive to. This leads to excess cortisol, which is directly linked to stubborn belly fat.
Exercise smarter, not longer. The right type and amount of exercise balanced with parasympathetic activities such as those found in The Power of 4 and Fat Loss Revolution. Also important to factor in: finding an activity you actually enjoy doing.
Strength training is essential to blasting belly fat. Multi-joint, big-bang compound exercises such as chin ups and pull ups, deadlifts, push-press, squats, lunges, pushups and split squats have a higher metabolic cost, increase fat oxidation and indirectly activate the abs as opposed to crunches, bicep curls and exercises performed on machines. If you want to target your abs directly, some of my favorite ab exercises: barbell roll outs, medicine ball slams, Swiss ball tucks and pikes.
A study in the journal Obesity found that those who did just 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related belly fat compared with those who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities.
Sprint-interval workouts are performed with intense effort for a select length of time followed by a rest period or active rest. The options are endless too: on a bike, the stairs, a hill, sidewalk, track, in the pool, or with free weights. This type of workout is highly effective, efficient, and the perfect bang-for-your-buck workout for those who are busy, have little time for exercise and want results!
A study in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that body composition changes are affected by the intensity of exercise training, strength training and interval sprint-style training, with interval training being the most effective for losing visceral and subcutaneous fat.
There’s no denying that interval workouts are challenging, but if you really want to lose body fat and melt belly fat, higher intensity workouts performed for shorter periods of time trump 30-60 minutes spent on an elliptical machine, jogging or other long, slow duration forms of exercise.
If your workouts are failing to produce the results you desire or you’re burnt out, consult with a professional and reputable coach to design your programs or jump on board with the exercise programs found in Fat Loss Revolution.
Toxic Chemicals – reduce toxic load. Chemical toxins accumulate and seriously impact our endocrine systems, brain function, liver health, and ability to lose belly fat. Our intestines, liver and kidneys become overloaded with toxins from processed foods, sugar, alcohol, pesticides, personal care and cleaning products, obesogens, environmental toxins, and pollution. These toxins build up over time and trigger a number of health complaints including constipation, fatigue, insomnia, weight loss resistance, headaches, memory loss, autoimmune disease, diabetes and excess visceral belly fat. Smart Detox Tips Safe Enough to do Every Day.
Less sitting. Less television. Sitting for long periods of time affects glucose levels and increases insulin resistance. Once insulin resistance begins, a vicious battle ensues and belly fat settles in around our internal organs.
Support a healthy microbiome and a healthy gut are crucial and all too often overlooked components to losing belly fat. Gut dysfunction, leaky gut and harmful bacteria increase inflammation making cells less sensitive to insulin and can flourish for years without causing any noticeable symptoms.
Healing can only begin when the problematic root cause is identified . . .
Food sensitivities are unique to each individual. They are a primary driver and cause of stubborn belly fat, fatigue, emotional problems, mood disorders, water retention, bloating, inflammation, headaches, skin problems, and excess weight. The top food sensitivity triggers: corn, egg whites, soy, sugar, artificial sweeteners, peanuts, dairy, wheat and gluten. However, even so-called healthy foods can be problematic causing inflammation and adverse reactions for many individuals.
Nutrient deficiencies. Consider basic nutrients such as probiotics, digestive enzymes with HCL, vitamin D, omega-3s, a high-quality vitamin/mineral, and fiber powders.
Remember, there are no short cuts. It’s what you do consistently on a daily basis. Listen to your body. Be patient. Be consistent. Make small changes. Be consistent. Make it a sustainable lifestyle. Follow the lifestyle principles found in Fat Loss Revolution and The Power of 4 and I promise you will experience sexier, flatter abs and blast belly fat for good!