It is still January and some of us will have good new year resolutions. Luckily, everyday is a chance to start over. Nevertheless, this is the time of the year I receive the most emails about how to lose weight. And more specifically, how to lose belly fat. Some feel like they do all the right things, but always seem to have a muffin top. Today I will tell you how to lose belly fat.
Losing fat on your belly is not a result of doing endless crunches.
The real devil? Refined carbs and white sugar!
When you consume refined carbohydrates and white refined sugar, your blood sugar level will spike sky-high, and as we all know what goes up most go down as well….As a reaction, your pancreas releases a hormone (insulin) to get rid of all the sugars. Here is the bad news, insulin will also signal your body to store (mostly belly) fat.
There is more bad news. The sugary food will not just play with your hormones that regulate blood sugar levels, it also influences your adrenal glands and stress hormones, which also makes you gain weight. Studies have shown that increased exposure to cortisol (the stress hormone) is linked with more excess abdominal fat in women.
So what can you do to ditch the belly fat?
A good start of the day and fibers are key
Your morning is the moment after a night of fasting where you can wisely set the day. A smoothie is perfect, but make sure to make the right smoothie full with fibers, good carbs, proteins and good fats. A healthy breakfast makes you feel full and also provides you with nutrients that are slowly released throughout the morning. This keeps your blood sugar balanced. If you start your day with a bowl of sugary cereal or white bread with Nutella, you will start the day with blood sugar levels that will spike and will leave you tired and hungry within an hour.
- A good smoothie is for example one with hemp seeds, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or arugula.
- Or a smoothie with fruit (with the skin), greens, avocado, almond milk, green powder, and hemp- or chia seeds.
- If a smoothie is not your thing you could have steamed sweet potato mashed with coconut oil and cinnamon, and topped with almond butter and hemp seeds.
- Another good option is a porridge, with quinoa, millet, buckwheat, or oats topped with fruit, mulberries, goji berries, nuts or seeds.
- Try to have a rhythm and eat breakfast around the same time every day. Our bellies love routine.
- Fibers are important. Fruit with their skin are great fiber sources. Also split pea is a great fiber food if you struggle with belly fat.
- Eat good fats. Good monounsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds are good to beat belly fat. Trans fats such as margarines, crackers, cookies, and hydrogenated oils will however result in more belly fat.
When you get hungry, you seem to not think logical, right? If hunger strikes, we all tend to go for what is convenient. Often times, you will find yourself snacking on sugary foods that will trigger your blood sugar spikes and the well known sugar crash and belly fat will follow.
So always keep healthy snacks around you. In your office, at home, in your hand bag…have them always with you. Healthy snacks will keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. Here are some ideas:
- Apple with almond butter
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Miso soup sprinkled with hemp seeds
- Gluten-free (and sugarfree) whole-grain crackers with guacamole or hummus
- A handful of trail mix
- Chocolate dipped almond dates
- Homemade almond fig bites
Calm your mind and body
Our minds can play tricks with us and our muffin top, so calm it down. Research indicates that the secretion of cortisol (produced during stress) is linked with an increase in belly fat.
Just a few breathing exercises (meditation) will already help. Try taking just 10 deep breaths at any moment in the day…
Meditation is however more than just breathing and sitting ”still”. There are many meditative activities such as going for a walk, spending time in nature, or cooking. Walking is a great way to calm the mind and get rid of belly fat. Aim to take 10,000 steps a day. Studies have shown that men who reduced their daily steps from 10,000 to less than 1,500 (without changing their diet), noticed their belly fat increase by 7% in just 2 weeks.
I hope that after this article you will understand that losing fat on your belly has not so much to do with your workout routine, but more with the food choices you make. As you can see, there is more to it than just doing endless sets of crunches.