The Truth About Belly Fat
Question: I have so much more belly fat than I had even a year ago. What’s happening? It seems like just about everyone I know has the belly fat problem.
Answer: If you’re like most Americans today, you can pinch more than an inch! The fat around the middle part of your body—the stomach-waist area—is the most toxic fat you can have. Numerous studies have shown that this fat, more than any other, predisposes you to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Additionally, belly fat increases something called insulin-resistance, which contributes to creating that unwelcome fat-storage zone right where you zip up your jeans.
Belly fat begins with the diet. In fact, some experts say that belly fat is 80 percent caused by what you eat regardless of the calories. The calories in a handful of nuts, for example, may be high, but because they are processed slowly by the body (and have little sugar) they don’t impact blood sugar levels. You can eat nuts and feel satisfied for several hours.
On the other hand sugar, white-flour and refined carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to spike and insulin to chase after it. What goes up must come down. The problem with “quick sugar foods” is that the more you eat, the more you want and the insulin is always surging. When blood sugar drops, your body screams “chocolate!” to your brain, not “broccoli!”
Cells eventually become insensitive to insulin and then you have insulin resistance, which, unfortunately, results in fat storage around the middle. Insulin resistance and the associated belly fat are well known to kids and teens. In a recent study, more than 40 percent of the teens tested had insulin resistance due to belly fat.
Are you ready to reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer? Do you want to look better in your clothes and have less fat bulging over your waistband? If so, please consider these quick belly-fat-loss tips:
Cut unnatural sugars from your diet. Man-made altered sugars have no nutritional value. Instead enjoy the natural sweetness in fruit. Try to eat at least two servings of fruit each day.
Eat carbohydrates that are high in fiber and eliminate those that are low in fiber such as white breads, chips, crackers, ice cream, cake, etc. Instead choose high-fiber carbohydrates such as veggies (five servings per day), oatmeal, sweet potatoes and brown rice. Eat smaller portions of the “white food starches” such as pasta, breads, crackers and boxed or artificial foods.
Eat less food. We are all eating too much. Some of us could cut our intake in half and be a whole lot healthier! Try it!
Stop the sugary drinks. The sugar in one mocha-style coffee drink is more sugar than you should have in a few days combined, and just one 12-ounce Classic Coca-Cola contains 8.5 teaspoons of sugar. Stop drinking those empty calories!
Consider going to a wellness center or your family doctor to get your body fat measured. A professional can put you on a program to lose belly fat efficiently. The ratio of fat-to-muscle has a great deal to do with your belly fat and can improve with the right program.
Get cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Exercising until you’re slightly out of breath and working to a sweat lowers insulin levels and reduces body fat.
Have your hormone levels checked: insulin, thyroid, the stress hormone cortisol, and female and male estrogen-progesterone-testosterone. Work with your provider to make sure your levels are in optimal ranges to make your body a better fat-burning machine.
Explore ways to handle stress and get better sleep. Supplements that keep cortisol low at night and optimal during the day will help you move from a catabolic (muscle-burning state) into a more thermogenic state (fat-burning state).
Now is the time to make changes in your health—and your waistline. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as fitting easily into a great pair of jeans! You can do it!