Feeling good in your clothes is a top priority. How about the “I gotta look good in that bathing suit”. Trying on a bathing suit for the first time over winter makes you question “what have I been doing these past 6 months?” Fit4Females has just launched our 28 Shape Up Challenge to help you stay on track, let’s do this! I’ve got the skinny on 5 ways to lose stubborn belly fat.
I asked my colleague and friend Dr. Renata Taravski to dive into the hot topic of belly fat and why aren’t you losing it!
Why the belly fat won’t budge and 5 things to turn that around!
You’ve plugged in more exercise then you’d ever dream possible, have done AB work until you felt faint and even opted for the fresh kale salad instead of the mouthwatering cheese pizza. Yet you still can’t button up the pants on your favourite jeans. You feel frustrated, annoyed and diving into that emergency stash of Half Baked Ben & Jerry’s is starting to feel like a really good idea.
Belly fat can get in the way of you confidently flaunting your black bikini. It hijacks your skinny jeans game. And being questioned “when are you due?” is not exactly your favourite thing to hear either. Besides aesthetics, belly fat also plays a big role when it comes to your health. It increases the risk of chronic disease like obesity, stroke and diabetes.
And guess what? The belief that the number of calories you consume compared to the calories you burn is the holy grail for weight loss is… well…FALSE. There’s more to the story.
Your Hormones. These players can be one of the main reasons why you can’t lose the muffin top. The biggest culprit being the hormone insulin. High insulin levels signal your body to store belly fat. And the best way to lose the belly fat is to lower your insulin levels.
This can easily be done by cutting back on the sweet stuff. Sugar. And here’s why: When we eat sugar and refined carbohydrates (think cereals, pasta, bread, pastries, cakes, pies, muffins) our blood sugar levels rise and this triggers the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin’s job is to put the sugar (aka glucose) into your cells so that it can be used for energy. The problem is when insulin levels are constantly elevated, this is the perfect formula for insulin resistance (your cells become numb to insulin and can’t take the sugar into the cell). Instead of your body burning energy, it starts to pack on the pounds and hangs onto it for dear life.
Don’t fret! You can totally eliminate that stubborn belly fat. I’ve seen so many patients do it and I know it’s possible for you too. By taking some serious action on these 5 tips below, in addition to reducing your sugar intake, you can have a trim tummy, vibrant health, and feel and look awesome. Easy as sugar-free pie!
1. EAT FAT TO BURN FAT
Here’s the skinny on fat. You need to eat it in order to burn it. Healthy fats are absolutely vital to our health and on our ability to lose weight. But you do need to be choosy with the type of fat you eat. Bad fats create more inflammation, promote obesity and a larger waistline, are harmful to our ticker and gut, and negatively impact our mood.
On the other hand, healthy fats support your cell structure, decrease inflammation, and aid with weight loss. Swap the bad fats like trans fats, vegetable oil, canola oil, and soybean oil with the healthy ones. My top healthy fat choices include: olive oil, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, avocado, coconut oil, ghee, and omega 3’s from fish oil and wild salmon.
We all have stress. Work deadlines. Screaming children. Boss. Getting cut off in traffic. The weather. Your Partner. Co-workers. Bills. A go-go-go lifestyle. I can go on….. The problem is that chronic stress makes us fatter, age faster, and our moods flatter (just to name a few of the ugly side effects.) When we are stressed, our body releases the stress hormone cortisol. The research shows that there is a connection between high cortisol levels and more belly fat. Also, we tend to crave sugary, carb-heavy, and unhealthy foods.
Our body’s response to the satiety hormone leptin is thrown off balance causing us to overeat. So when it comes to losing belly fat, de-stressing isn’t something to put on the back burner. It’s absolutely mandatory. Some things you can do include: meditation, acupuncture, deep breathing, yoga, spending time in nature, massages, getting a mani and pedi (my personal fav), and talking to an awesome friend. It’s also important to test your salivary or urinary 4-point cortisol levels to see if high cortisol is a major culprit for you.
3. MORE IS NOT BETTER
Pay close attention. It’s likely you may be doing this and it’s making it nearly impossible for you to get that flat tummy. When it comes to losing weight, many people think the more exercise they do, the better. Nope. Stop right there.
If you’re already stressed out, which we know does wonders for your waistline, over-exercising will stress out your body even more. And even ‘if” you’re not super stressed, too much exercise is a physical stressor for your body. Both scenarios translate to: more cortisol = more belly fat. To find your right balance, work with a qualified Personal Trainer and opt for short bursts of high-intensity activities instead of running for hours.
4. MAKE SLEEPING BEAUTY JEALOUS
When you’re trying to lose weight, sleep may be the last thing you’d ever consider. Studies show it has such a powerful effect on our hormones and metabolism. Poor sleep suppresses our satiety hormone leptin and elevates our hunger hormone gherkin. When you skimp on sleep, you end up craving unhealthy foods, sugar, and carbs and eating more of them. In other words, there’s no chance you’re passing by the candy bowl without getting your fix.
Here’s what you can do: A sleep ritual is key when it comes to getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Make sure to sleep in a room that is pitch black and/or wear a sleeping mask. Shut off all electronics and stay away from the iPhone, TV and computer for at least a few hours before shutting it down. Taking a bath, or meditating are both relaxing and may help you unwind faster. Still can’t sleep? Work with your Naturopathic Doctor to check your hormones, so that you catch some quality zzzz’s. Your cortisol may be to high or other hormones may be out of balance.
5. ELIMINATE YOUR FOOD INTOLERANCES
Besides sugar, the foods you eat can seriously impact your waistline. Some foods heal the body, others harm the body. A growing body of research supports the clinical benefits of eliminating food intolerances from your diet. Unknown food intolerances, which are different for all of us, cause inflammation in the body and damages our gut. When your gut is unhealthy, it can be really challenging for you to lose weight. Something I see quite frequently with patients.
The great news is that eliminating these foods can be a real game changer when it comes to not only losing weight, but also feeling and looking better. Strongly consider eliminating your food intolerances (easily identified from a simple IgG food sensitivity blood test) if you’re having troubles losing belly fat. In the meantime, get rid of all processed foods, SUGAR, gluten, wheat and processed dairy from your diet. These are the most common food offenders and can make losing the muffin top nearly impossible. – Dr. Renata Taravski
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