To lose those extra pounds and that stubborn belly fat, you need to do more than just exercising, In fact, your diet plays a crucial role in the process of weight loss and maintenance. Those with excess body weight and insulin resistance should schedule eating their meals at a specific time of the day.
Besides proper diet followed by a proper exercise, you should also sleep enough as well as manage and reduce stress. When the levels of the stress hormone called cortisol increase, it depletes lean muscle and attaches to the fat in the stomach area.
You must understand that having an optimal weight and reducing the belly fat is not just good for your physical appearance, but also for your overall health and wellbeing.
The visceral fat – abdominal fat that accumulates around the internal organs releases hormones and proteins which can cause inflammation.
This can lead to artery damage and entry to the liver. Once here, the hormones and proteins from the visceral fat will interfere with the way your body breaks down fats and sugars.
This type of inflammation can cause various systemic diseases associated with metabolic syndrome.
You can understand now why people with extra belly fat are connected to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, etc. Also, this is the reason why the WHR ratio (waist-hip ratio) can show your health condition better than your BMI (body mass index).
2 Dietary Factors for Burning Abdominal Fat
If you like to burn your stomach fat, first you’ll have to lose some body fat. In other words, targeting just one body part for fat burning is simply impossible. To succeed in this, you’ll have to pay closer attention to your diet. Consuming improper foods and drinks promotes fat buildup and makes your body hold on to the extra fat.
Here are the three main keys regarding your diet that will help you lose weight:
1. Avoid or Reduce Sugar
The first dietary key to burning stomach fat is eliminating or reducing all forms of sugar and fructose. This doesn’t refer to the refined sugar only, but also to the “natural” forms like honey or agave.
In addition, you’ll have to eliminate all grains, even the organic ones, since they are quickly converted into sugars in your body.
So far, the worst type of sugar is the high fructose syrup as it causes metabolic dysfunction. The human’s body metabolizes this and other forms of processed fructose in the same way as alcohol. This means increased fat accumulation and insulin resistance, incomparably higher than other forms of sugar.
Since processed fructose is found in numerous sweetened beverages and processed foods under more than 60 names, the best way to avoid it is to stop eating processed foods altogether. Instead, change them with organic, whole foods.
If you have excess stomach fat and insulin resistance, make sure your daily intake of sugar/fructose is less than 15 grams. On the other hand, those with normal weight and no signs of insulin resistance should consume not more than 25 grams per day.
2. Eat More Healthy Fats
You might be surprised, but when you want to lose some weight, you should not follow a low-fat diet. Instead, you should consume plenty of healthy saturated fats.
If you’re insulin resistant, your daily calories should consist of 50-85% healthy fats.
Great sources of healthy fats include raw dairy, butter produced from raw grass-fed organic milk, coconut oil and coconuts, organic pastured egg yolks, raw nuts, unheated organic nut oils, animal-based omega 3 fatty acids, avocados, and grass-fed meats.
Researchers discovered that MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) in olive oil, nuts, and avocados could speed up the abdominal fat burning process.
3. Intermittent Fasting
This is the third dietary factor when it comes to burning abdominal (and overall) fat. This type of diet forces your body to use fat as opposed to sugar as its primary fuel.
A Good Version of Intermittent Fasting
Here’s a great intermittent fasting version for anyone with insulin resistance. All you have to do is restricting your diet to an 8-hour window of time every day. This means you could have your first meal at 11 AM, and the second at 7 PM.
What you’d do actually is making lunch your breakfast. So, following this type of diet will mean fasting for 16 hours. This time is twice the minimum you’ll need to deplete your body’s stores of glycogen. This, in turn, will shift your body from fat-storing to fat-burning mode.
Even though there are many different versions of intermittent fasting, this one has proven to be highly effective when your body begins burning fat instead of sugar.
The slow-burning fuel called fat will prevent suffering from the huge energy crashes connected with sugar. So, if you have no problems when you don’t eat for several hours and you’re not hungry, follow this diet schedule until your weight normalizes, insulin resistance and health problems resolve, including high blood sugar, and blood pressure.
Once your health condition and weight normalize, do this eating schedule as often as you want to maintain an optimal weight and health.
Foods Which Can Help You Burn Stomach Fat
The author of “Zero Belly Diet” David Zinczenko recommends several foods which can help reduce inflammation, bloating, and turn off the genes responsible for fat storage. This, in turn, can help you get a leaner belly. As he explains, the results from his Zero Belly program were astonishing.
Apparently, in a period of only six weeks, the average person managed to lose 4 inches around their waist. This program is based on nutritional genetics. In other words, it turns your fat genes off, making the weight loss process natural. This diet doesn’t have deprivation or calorie counting.
Here’s how it works:
1. The Zero Belly program cuts down on excess salt, artificial sweeteners, and dairy, thus eliminating the bloating. Some participants in the research succeeded to lose up to 3 inches in their waist in only a week period.
2. This diet feeds the good microbes in the stomach, healing your gut. When you have balanced gut, the inflammation in your body decreases and your fat genes can turn off more easily.
3. It supplies your metabolism with enough quality fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
9 Foods Recommended by Zinczenko
The founder of this diet program recommends the following groups of food:
1. Healthy fat
2. Resveratrol and fiber
3. Plant-based smoothies rich in protein
4. Eggs (organic, pastured or free-range)
5. Meat (organic, grass-fed meat)
6. Seeds and nuts
7. Healthy fats such as olive oil
8. Brightly-colored and leafy green vegetable
9. Foods rich in fiber
10. A lot of fresh herbs and spices
Imbalance in your gut flora can affect your weight. One group of researchers believe the gut bacteria might control your appetite. A study shows a possible positive-feedback loop between the compositions of your gut microbiota with the foods you crave.
For instance, microbes that flourish on sugar can signal the brain to crave for chocolate and other sweets.
Another research has discovered that there are a bacteria in the gut which triggers chronic, mild inflammation in the body.
This can result in weight gain and develop insulin resistance. Moreover, food processing, sterilization, and pasteurization are extremely bad for your microbiome. Therefore, you should always strive to eat whole, unprocessed foods and fermented or cultured foods.
Mistakes That Make Burning Abdominal Fat More Difficult
One of the main causes of bulging waistline is eating too many processed foods (including added sugars like processed fructose), as well as eating too frequently. But, there are other lifestyle factors which further increase your weight and fat around your stomach.
So, besides following a proper diet and an intermittent fasting, here are the factors you need to address if you want to get rid of the extra inches around your waist.
1. Lack of Exercise
High-intensity interval training is a must have if you like to maximize your weight loss and fat burning results. This type of training increases the muscle mass and enhances the quality of muscle fiber, thus increasing the utilization and expenditure of your muscle energy.
In fact, muscle tissue is more effective in burning calories than fat tissues (3 to 5 times better). This happens even when you sleep. What’s more, few studies show that if you exercise in short bursts and rest in between them, you’ll shed more fat that exercising for a whole season.
When combining high-intensity interval training with intermittent fasting, you get a highly effective way of burning fat. Furthermore, you should consider spending more time on walking on a regular basis.
Experts recommend doing 7,000-10,000 steps every day, along with your exercise program. The effects are surely positive, including boosted metabolism and countered negative effects of prolonged sitting. This is important as spending too much time sitting raises the risk of metabolic dysfunction and insulin resistance.
2. Lack of Magnesium
This is one of the vital minerals for your muscles, kidneys, and heart. So, if you notice unexplained weakness or fatigue, muscle spasms, abnormal heart rhythms, or eye twitches, you might have a magnesium deficiency.
According to studies, those with higher magnesium intake have lower insulin and blood sugar levels. Good food sources of magnesium are seaweed, spinach, Swiss chard, and other green leafy veggies. Others include sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, beans, avocados, seeds, and nuts.
3. Drinking Diet Soda
You might be surprised, but diet soda can increase your weight more than regular soda. This means you’d have to avoid all sweetened drinks, including those which are artificially sweetened. So, we recommend drinking pure filter water instead of any beverage.
4. Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol increases your weight, and that’s a fact! Therefore, we recommend reducing the number of drinks you have every week. For example, besides promoting weight gain, beer can also increase your uric acid levels, thus supporting chronic inflammation.
If your levels of stress are high, you will have difficulties losing weight. Therefore, you can do some stress-relieving techniques to stabilize your cortisol levels. This, in turn, will reduce your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
Also, make sure you manage your stress every day through meditation, exercise, yoga, mindfulness training, listening to music, spending time in nature, and emotional freedom techniques (EFT.)
Last but Not Least – Exercises for Your Abs
Even though ab exercises won’t make your waist slimmer, you shouldn’t forget them. Strengthening your abs can help support and protect your back, spine, and overall body from various injuries and disorders.
In this way, you’ll achieve greater stability and balance. Strong abdominal muscles are crucial for optimal body movement, especially in older people.
Once you’ve successfully lost your excess fat, strong abs will give you that long-desired six-pack look. Here are the functional, stabilization, and traditional exercises you should do to train your core muscles effectively:
- Functional exercises example – such as stability ball exercises
- Traditional exercises example – regular floor crunch with rotation, or a standing one with a light hand weight.
- Extension exercises example – Lie on your stomach and stretch your arms above your head. Lift your arms at the same time with your legs and stay here for 5 Then, bring them back to the ground.
- Stabilizing exercises example – Lie on your back and pull your stomach back toward the spine. Remain here for a while and breathe deeply
Furthermore, Pilates and yoga are other effective exercise programs that target core muscles. Also, here are the push-ups. They will help you get strong abdominal muscles, only if you do them properly.
For that purpose, here’s a video where Darin Steen explains and demonstrates how to do the perfect push-ups.
Basically, you have to start in a plank position with your body stiff and straight. Place your elbows on the floor at a 45° angle from each side, and inhale as you lower your body until the sternum touches the ground. Exhale as you lift your body.
Here’s what you need to do if you like to lose that belly fat that annoys you for so long, and get the six-pack you have always wanted:
- Eat the right foods
- Follow an intermitted fasting, such as the version mentioned above
- Do high-intensity interval exercise
- Manage your stress
- Get the proper sleep
- Treat your nutritional deficiency
- Do exercises which target the abdominal muscles
Stay true to this diet and lifestyle habits, and you’ll be close to achieving the body of your dreams and a health anyone would wish for.