Having a flat belly (the so called six-pack) is a dream that most adults would like to achieve. If you have had a few too many big macs or beers over the years, or if you have been pregnant at some point you are likely to have a spare tire that you would gladly get rid of. So what is the truth about belly fat?
Beer bellies can actually be less about the beer and more about wheat in your diet, says Dr William Davis, a preventative cardiologist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Davis goes on to say that the remedy for a flabby belly is to cut all wheat from your diet which can help prevent as well as reverse problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis and acne. Wheat also causes elevated blood sugar levels which causes the body to store calories as fat.
So is a wheat free diet definitely for you? It may be something to consider carefully before making the decision to cut wheat out for good. According to Joan Salge Blake, MA, RD, a nutritionist from Boston and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, losing weight does not have to be as challenging as cutting out wheat completely, especially if some of your favourite foods are things such as pasta, bread and cookies. “Do you really need to be this extreme?” says Blake.
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Wheat is in a very large number of packaged foods so you will need to read the packages very carefully to ensure that you are not eating it as it can be hidden in foods such as granola to snacks such as chewing gum. A person should be certain that they will be able to stick to the wheat free diet because even if you ‘cheat’ just a little bit and have a slice of toast or half a bagel, it could lead to the wheat causing digestive problems, such as bloating, gas and stomach cramps. So instead of banning wheat from your diet altogether, an alternative method is to simply decrease the amount of wheat you are eating.
Is your belly one of the last places you lose weight?
Nicky Howell, a professional writer in health and fitness who studied at Portland State University, says that losing fat on your belly can be one of the hardest places to trim the flab, even if you successfully lose weight in other areas of your body. The thing is that you cannot ‘decide’ what part of your body is going to lose the weight first, so you may lose it on say your face or arms, before your belly has gone…
Check out the tips below for achieving a flatter belly:
Calorie Burning – The number of calories you burn in a day depends mostly on the intensity level which you are exercising, also the type of activity you are doing, and your weight. If you are exercising at a higher intensity level you will be using more energy (working harder) and burning more calories than someone who is performing at a lower intensity level and therefore not training as hard. The number of calories you burn will be slightly higher or lower depending upon your intensity level and your weight.
Circuit Training – According to “Fitness Magazine” trying a circuit training approach can help you with losing weight on your stomach. Circuit training can burn up to 30 per cent more calories than traditional strength training sessions. After the circuit training, try an intense type of cardio exercise such as jumping jacks, skipping or jogging.
Fat-Burning Foods – Research has shown that some foods actually help with burning fats. These include foods containing omega-3 fatty acids which helps your metabolism improve and shift belly fat. Foods such as salmon, walnuts and mackerel are a few foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods which are high in mono-saturated fats are also good for boosting your metabolism, some examples of these foods are avocado, nuts and olive oil.
Whole Grain Foods – According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a calorie controlled diet which contains a good amount of whole grains can lead to extra fat being trimmed from the waist line, this was especially true for larger or obese individuals. Study subjects who ate all whole grains (things such as brown rice, couscous, oats and whole wheat pasta), as well as five servings of fruits and veggies, low fat diary and lean meat, fish or poultry, lost more weight in the stomach region than any other group that ate the same diet, instead they substituted the whole grains with refined grains. ” Eating a diet rich in whole grains while reducing carbohydrates changes the glucose and insulin response and makes it easier to mobilise fat stores,” says Dr Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutritional sciences from The Pennsylvania State University.
Now let’s look at some of the common misconceptions of belly/abdominal fat:
1.) You can lose belly flat by doing sit ups – This is commonly believed because some people believe that fat can be eliminated by working the muscles underneath the layer of fat.
2.) You can lose belly fat by taking a special supplement.
You can do hundreds of sit ups, crunches and any other abdominal exercise you can think of, but all this will do is stimulate your abdominal muscles which lie under the layer of fat that you are desperately trying to get rid of. It won’t actually burn the fat off, it rather trains your muscles to become stronger, which is still a good thing but won’t give you that six pack that you are after.
Stress can also affect your waistline, this is because stress can cause cortisol levels to build up which can cause hormonal imbalances in the body, thereby causing your stomach to bulge. Bulging bellies can also mean an oestrogen imbalance in women and a testosterone deficiency in men, so in addition to cutting down on wheat you should also try to reduce your stress levels. A good stress reliever is exercise which of course will also help with that flabby belly.
So is losing belly fat in the long term achievable? Yes! is the answer from the experts. However there are no “quick fixes”. “There is no magic bullet, diet plan or specific food that specifically targets belly fat.” says Dr Michael Jensen, a specialist in endocrinology (the hormonal system) and obesity researcher. Instead of trying to target where you will lose weight you need to start doing cardio exercises, eat fewer calories and do stomach toning exercises. This will help your body overall become much fitter and leaner, which in turn will get rid of that unwanted belly fat.
Here’s to your success!