Belly fat, flab, muffin top, gut, “keg”. We’ve all heard the various terms describing that frustrating concentration of fat around the midsection. What it is? Why does it seem like an endless battle to get rid of it? There are actually two types of fats accumulating around the midsection. There’s the muffin-top fat that you can physically grab with your hand, and there’s fat that lies much deeper than the skin and surrounds our vital organs.
The deep layered fat surrounding the organs is called “visceral fat”, and this term has sparked a lot of chatter in the last few years. Studies are now showing that while extra fat accumulation can be an indicator of whether someone is obese, the amount of fat visceral fat is much more dangerous to our long term health. The good news is that studies show that visceral fat responds well to exercise, so if you start moving, your risks will decrease!
The other belly fat – the stuff we can grab onto to (love handles and such…) is a bit trickier to get rid of. This is Adipose Tissue, and its main purpose is to store energy. When you eat fats (foods that are rich in fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds) in excess of what your body requires for energy, your body will store it for later. When you eat carbohydrates and proteins in excess of what is needed to store energy in the muscles and repair/rebuild tissues, then your body will convert the excess to fat and store it as well.
When you eat carbohydrates and proteins in excess…your body will convert the excess to fat and store it
A lot of people are surprised by this fact! They read labels that say “low in fat, or 0g of fat” and think that if they eat it they won’t get fat. But most of the time, check the nutrition label and determine where they are adding calories to make that food delicious. Often it is sugar (carbohydrate). If you eat too much of it, guess where it goes?!?!
So how the heck do you get RID of it?? Here are some things you can do:
- STOP Yo-yo dieting (this is when people are constantly fluctuating more than 10 lbs). Studies have suggested that the fat will tend to accumulate in the upper body when our weight fluctuates constantly more than 10 lbs (which causes stress in the body). How do you stop yo-yo-ing? Losing weight slowly and safely (1-2 lbs/week for most people) will help ensure you are changing your lifestyle to make the weight loss permanent, rather than a crash diet that is unsustainable.
- Eat more protein: Most people do not eat enough protein. Let’s clarify this statement. Most people eat too much carbohydrates compared to the amount of protein they are eating. You should absolutely have protein with every meal and snack, and there is a scientific reason for that. Protein helps balance the hormonal response to carbohydrates (specifically high-glycemic carbs). When you eat something that is high in sugar, your body releases Insulin, which reduces the mobilization of fatty-acids from the tissue. This means that spikes in sugar, and therefore insulin, will slow-down the fat burning process!
- Eat healthy at LEAST 80% of the time: I’m a firm believer in balance, and let’s face it – we can’t fully deny or avoid the foods we love, especially in our culture when food means friends, family and love. So my rule is that I eat very healthy consistently 80% of the time. You can manage this how you want! I stick to healthy eats during the week, and save my wine and chocolate for the weekend!
- Exercise: Everybody knows this. Adding more movement and activity to your life will cause your body to demand more energy, thereby using up your fat stores. The trick here is that once you begin exercising, you need to eat the same amount, not MORE (unless your an athlete or maintaining your current weight). If you are trying to lose weight, you absolutely need to move more and eat less. Period. WARNING: you can never out-exercise a poor diet. this means you must eat well, AND exercise 😉
- Reduce stress! If you have a very stressful and demanding life, I STRONGLY recommend finding ways to reduce those stresses. When we are stressed our hormones may become imbalanced causing weight fluctuations. Also, when under emotional stress, many people turn to eating and food for comfort, and often don’t realize it. We are often not in a good mental state to control our nutrition.
- Genetic Predisposition: yes, unfortunately genetics certainly has a role. It is never to fully blame however!
If you are trying to lose weight, you absolutely need to move more and eat less. Period.
I hope you can implement some of the tips above. I know you’ve heard it before, and it’s not the easy answer to weight loss, but it is the only natural way to lose weight and keep it off!!! If you are looking for a fast fix that you can do with little to no discomfort, then this is not the place to look. It took time to gain the weight, maybe months, even years. It’s not a quick process, but it shouldn’t be. It’s your journey to a healthier life – and you can choose to take it on, and enjoy it!
Be proud of your decision to improve yourself. Feel good about reducing stress and eating well – because soon enough you will feel better. And then your body will thank you 🙂
Sending lots of love,