As belly fat is one of the top frustrations women deal with, right up there with carb cravings, I thought I’d share some tips with you today.
As the 5 Day Challenge to STOP Carb Cravings has come to an end and we’ve learned the step by step strategies on how to get carb cravings under control, this seems like a good moment to tackle the next steps to achieve lasting and healthy fat loss.
Let’s get right to it then.
We all have insecurities about our weight, but belly fat seems to be the one that’s hardest to shake. You can't tuck it away or hide it under makeup. It’s always there in plain sight, ready to pop up in the WORST situations.
HOW TO SHED STUBBORN BELLY FAT
Contrary to what many people believe, the key to shedding stubborn belly fat does not lie in doing targeted exercise around the abdomen. The solution lies in what we eat. More specifically, in eating foods that help manage our insulin levels.
Because when your insulin levels are high, you’re telling your body to store carbohydrates as fat and to not release any of the stored fat. In other words, you turn on your fat storing hormones instead of triggering your fat burning hormones (yes, you can control that!).
Having said that, working on other healthy lifestyle habits such as more sleep and stress management are also helpful, as they help manage cortisol levels. When our stress hormone cortisol is elevated it increases carb cravings, depletes lean muscle and holds on to excess energy as fat around our belly.
DIETARY TIPS TO SHED BELLY FAT
Tip #1: Minimize sugar and starches in your diet.
By this I don’t just mean minimize consuming cookies, donuts and chips or fries.
BY this I mean stop relying on grains as being the main component of your meal. Grains should not be viewed as an essential food group that should be a part of every meal. Not even the ‘healthy’ whole grains.
What most people don’t realize is that grains are a quick source of energy for the body that trigger blood sugar spikes, favouring the hormones that cause fat storage instead of fat burning.
Keep in mind that you can’t just cut out sugars and carbs from your diet, without replacing those missing calories with something else.
Which brings me to:
Tip #2: Increase healthy fats in your diet.
Yup, consuming a low-fat diet is the best way to sabotage your weight loss goals. To lose fat, you actually need to eat good quality fats, and plenty of them (sounds like a plan to me!).
Most people can safely consume up to 60-80% of their daily calories from healthy fats, while ensuring they get sufficient protein as well.
So what are healthy fats? Avocados, butter, egg yolks (goodbye egg white omelettes), coconut products, ghee, raw nuts, meats, fatty fish, olives. The natural stuff, none of those trans-fat, hydrogenated fats or processed vegetable oils. Oh no, it’s best to stay away from those.
Tip #3: Add more fiber to your diet
Not only is fiber is a great filler, it also helps manage insulin levels. In an observational study, which consisted of 1,114 people over a five-year period, researchers found that every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, reduced belly fat gain decreased by 3.7 percent (source: Dr. Mercola).
However, keep in mind that grain-based fiber is less than optimal, as discussed in tip #1.
Although a change in diet holds the key to losing belly fat, there are lifestyle factors that will also be helpful.
LIFESTYLE TIPS TO SHED BELLY FAT
Tip #4: Sleep at least 7 hours a night
As quoted by Dr. Mercola: "A 16-year study of almost 70,000 women found that those who slept five hours or less/ a night were 30 percent more likely to gain 30 or more pounds than those who slept 7 hours."
Tip #5: Manage stress by practicing meditation or doing breathing exercises
As a young girl I was taught to breathe into my chest so that my belly would stay flat (terrible right?!). Little did I know what a disservice this person was doing to me as this promotes shallow breathing that does not provide us with all the oxygen we need and it triggers anxiety.
Now that I learned to take deep belly breaths, the way we should all be breathing, it has become my #1 tool to manage stress and anxiety. Give it a try, it’ll work wonders, I promise.
Here’s an instructional video if you have no idea what I’m referring to.
Before I sign off, I’d like to mention that the benefits of reducing belly fat go far beyond aesthetics. Abdominal fat, the visceral fat that deposits around your internal organs, has been linked to increased inflammation, which in turn can trigger disease and further stimulate weight gain.
Don’t feel like you have to implement everything at once. Take it one step at a time. Bookmark this page, print it, go back to it and review to remind yourself of the steps here and then.