YOU’RE WORKING HARD BUT YOUR STOMACH IS REFUSING TO GO AWAY? IT’S TIME TO LOOK AT OTHER AREAS YOU NEED TO WORK ON.
Stubborn fat around the tummy is probably the most common “want to lose” goal for both men and women. Shifting it becomes even more of a priority when you consider that fat collecting around your middle poses more health risks than fat that sits elsewhere.
Per many studies the spare fat stored under the skin and also around the vital organs in our abdomen can cause more health problems than, say, fat carried around the bottom or on the thighs. Having a large amount of tummy fat (when compared to having fat around the bottom or thighs) makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart problems.”
Hardly joyful news if you have a few pounds to lose, but don’t panic if you’re developing a paunch – the following could explain why you’re accumulating belly fat, and tips from nutritionist and yoga teacher Libby Limon and fitness specialist Lucy Miller could help you to whittle down your waist once and for all.
Number one rule for conquering abdominal fat? Don’t stress (in fact, make that a rule for life). High stress and anxiety can thwart your weight loss efforts:
“Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays a part in laying down central adipose tissue (belly fat), so if you are in a stressed state then it will be very hard to shift. “Stress can come from many sources- emotional strain, conflict at work or relationship trouble. Destress by building in yoga practice and mindfulness to your daily routine.”
If you suspect that stress is sabotaging your slimming goals, learn how to master meditation, swot up on calming yoga poses and halt negative thought patterns in their tracks.
It’s public enemy number one, and the link between muffin tops and actual muffins is, unfortunately, stronger than ever. “Estrogen tummy” is a fact.
“Cortisol is also implemented, alongside insulin, in blood sugar control, so a high sugar diet can cause belly fat to stick fast even if you’re restricting calories and trying to lose weight (excessive calorie restriction isn’t something I would recommend anyway.”
Personal trainer and obesity campaigners all offer some advice for addressing the issue, without going hungry:
Try to cut down on sugar, saturated fats and white refined foods such as white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, as they metabolise quickly, resulting in soaring blood sugar levels, which promotes fat storage. Base your diet around lean meats, vegetables and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and avocados”
Sleep deprivation brings out the c-word again meaning it causes the type of cortisol that can have a negative effect on cortisol balance.
If you’re struggling to get some shut eye, get to the root of what’s causing your insomnia and learn how to help yourself nod off using expert wellbeing techniques. If you’re in the following situation, however, you’ll be in no doubt as to what’s causing your sleeplessness…
YOU’RE A NEW MOTHER
First things first, never put pressure on yourself to spring back into shape, and definitely don’t rush things (that goes for weight loss full stop). Your belly has just housed new life and brought a wonder into the world; cut it, and more importantly, yourself, some slack. Up your activity levels slowly- Lucy advocates patience and TLC:
“If you’re a new mom then losing weight from around the tummy can be very hard – hormones take time to settle down and stretched muscles won’t knit back together instantly after pregnancy. It will take time, so give yourself as long as it takes.”
There’s no doubt that not enough excercise won’t do anything to diminish belly fat, but going overboard isn’t the answer either.
Physical stresses such as overexercising and endurance exercise can upset cortisol balance. Switch gruelling cardio workouts for 20-30 minute HIT sessions instead.
If a protruding tum comes with cramps, wind and bowel trouble, an unhappy digestive system is likely to blame and could be making a less than trim tum situation look and feel a lot worse than it is. Your first step is to beating bloat is to identify the cause of your tummy trouble. Many trainers suggest trying a meal tweak to see if it makes a difference.
An easy thing to start with is to avoid eating fruit after a meal, as fruit can cause food to ferment in your stomach, leading to bloating and lots of gas.
The classic sit-up has been sold to us as the best ab honer, but incorrect alignment can make them less effective, not to mention damage your back. A sit-up alone also won’t burn fat that sits on the stomach. Get sweaty with a cardio blast and then mix up your core toning exercises.
Planks are a great substitution for situps. Three sets of minute long planks, stretching excercises and then 3 sets of lunges are a great substitution for situps.
Traditionally many women skirt round the weightlifting section in the gym, and while body weight resistance training is highly effective, pumping a little iron pays dividends. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn, even when resting.
NOT ALL FAT IS BAD
It seems logical to assume that fat contributes to fat, but nutritionists are keen to point out that since the “low fat” revolution of the 70s, our waistlines have widened dramatically. As many personal trainer and nutritionists will tell you – NOT ALL FAT IS BAD FAT.
“Have you ever wondered what takes the place of the removed fat? Answer: heaps of synthetic, non-food chemicals that wreak havoc on our metabolism and digestion. What’s more, most low-fat and fat-free products contain loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make up for the lack of taste.”
For a flatter tummy and lower body weight in general, healthy fats such as coconut oil and avocados could well be your weight loss weapon.
“Fat can play a vital role in weight loss[…] the single most important aim of your nutrition should be to balance your blood sugar levels. Dietary fat helps you accomplish that by slowing down the release of nutrients into the bloodstream, so by all means, add a little olive oil or butter to your meals. This will help regulate your appetite and keep your energy levels consistent.”
Fewer sugar spikes, reduced cake cravings and a drip feed of health-giving nutrients into the body will seriously reduce the incidence of belly swelling binges.