Today, I’m coming at you today with one of the most asked questions that I get during nutrition consults, and with clients. Belly fat! How to get rid of it, what exactly is it, how did it get there, and is it true that some foods burn belly fat better than others. After your done reading today, I want you to pop on over to google and type in “how to burn belly fat” and I can guarantee you that most of those articles are going to say something like “8 foods that burn belly fat” or something along those lines.
Let’s jump right into the facts of this. Are there certain foods that burn belly fat better than others. Mmmmm yes and no. following certain dietary guidelines and focusing on eating better food could help reduce your waistline, and at the end of the podcast I’ll give you my top 6 tips for whittling your waistline. But, belly fat doesn’t just appear and disappear in response to eating certain foods. So, what is the deal with all of these supposed fat melting foods you ask? Well, most of the foods you see on these lists fall into one of two categories. The first category is: food that prevent blood sugar spikes, OR low glycemic index foods. Certain foods that you may see that fall into this category are salmon, avocado, olive oil, almonds and beans. Now… do these foods LITERALLY incinerate belly fat? Not really… but foods that contain protein, fat and/or fiber are relatively slowly digested and absorbed which means there will not be a huge spike in your blood sugar. These low glycemic foods can even slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates from other foods that they are eaten with. The idea here is that when your blood sugar shoots up, as it does when you eat sweets or refined carbohydrates, it sets into motion a hormonal cascade that promotes the storage of abdominal fat. The hope is that avoiding these blood sugar spiking foods will also help prevent belly fat. And there is some scientific research to support this theory. There are also other benefits of this kind of food as well. As I talk about with my clients, foods that are higher in protein and fiber can also regulate your appetite and help you to avoid overeating. However, make no mistake, no matter WHAT type of food you choose, if you consume more calories than you need during the day, the excess calories will be stored as fat. That is why it is so important that you have an energy expenditure of some kind. Working out, walking, yoga, any kind of movement to increase your metabolism from your basal metabolic rate is going to help with fat reduction.
The second category consists of foods that raise your metabolism. These so called flat belly foods include green tea, cayenne pepper, vinegar, as well as anything high in protein such as egg meat and fish. These foods supposedly boost your metabolism, causing your body to burn through your fat reserves, including the fat around your middle. While its true that these foods can increase your metabolism, the devil is in the details. 1 cup of green tea of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper might cause you to burn an extra 10-20 calories per day. But it takes 4100 calories to burn off 1 pound of fat. So, feel free to include these metabolism boosters in your diet, but don’t expect miracles.
I will tell you one tried and true way to help increase your metabolism and reduce your belly fat…EXERCISE! A recent study found that adding more exercise, in particular, interval and strength training, to your daily routine was far more effective in reducing belly fat than exercising at a steady pace. Increasing your lean muscle mass through strength training with further increase the number of calories you burn not only actively, but also while at rest, thus leading to a reduction of body fat.
There is one other strategy that may help you trim down your midsection. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted in response to stress. And, who among us doesn’t have plenty of stress these days. Here’s the problem. Chronically high cortisol levels have been scientifically linked to increased belly fat. Of course, managing the stress in your life is a lot easier said than done. Replacing an hour of your daily commute with an hour of meditation, may not be an option for the majority of us, I know it’s definitely not an option for me. However, most of us could turn off the TV or our tablets and smart phones an hour earlier, before we go to bed. This could have a profound and immediate effect on your cortisol levels. Your body perceives the lack of sleep, as stress, and those who skimp on sleep tend to have higher cortisol levels. Also it’s been found in recent studies, that blue light can lead to higher cortisol levels, and eye strain which is one of the leading causes of headaches and migraines. I definitely think that knowing and understanding all of this, helps explain why under sleeping is consistently linked with weight gain.
So, now that we have covered all our scientific bases, lets jump right into my top 6 tips to help fight off stubborn belly fat. And it’s no coincidence that these same strategies will also help you reduce your risk of health disease plus, slow down the aging process.
Number 1: limit your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates. And For more on that, visit my blog post titled “How to reduce your sugar intake” on my website. Bodybyveenutrition.com that’s Vee with two e’s.
Number 2: choose foods that are high in protein and fiber. I think you’ll find that those lists of flat belly foods will fit quite nicely into this strategy, especially when they are lower on the glycemic scale. For more on this, feel free to shoot me an email or reach out to me through my website.
Number 3: don’t over eat. It’s important to choose healthy foods but you also need to eat them in quantities that allow you to maintain a healthy body weight.
Number 4: be as active as possible.
Number 5: do what you can to minimize stress, at the very least learn some good stress management skills
Number 6: make quality sleep a priority
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