In this episode, we talk about how to lose belly fat. Belly fat is one of the most common complaints we hear from our patients and listeners. Weight loss, especially in the stomach is very common and more of a consequence of hormones rather than food.
This episode is an extension from our article, ‘11 Tips on How to Lose Belly Fat in Perimenopause’. Because of the popularity of the article we wanted to expand on belly fat and ways to combat it. This episode focuses on tips to help lose belly fat that you might not be aware of. That is because many of our tips go against the grain in the typical weight loss theory of “eat less, exercise more.”
How many of you have gone on a “diet”? I think I went on my first diet at 13 years old. For the majority of history, it has always been reduce your calories and exercise a bunch, and you will lose weight. While many do this over and over. The long game is, the weight might initially come off. But inevitably the weight loss will plateau and come back. How many of you have worked really hard to lose 15 pounds only to put most of it back on plus more, just by going back to a “normal” way of eating.
You do not have to starve yourself and exercise like crazy to lose weight and maintain it. I have so many people complain that they are eating 1000 calories and do some form of intense cardio 5 days a week and they are actually gaining weight! I wish to lose weight that the simple math equation of calories in versus calories out acutally worked. That would be amazing. But there are too many variables, whether metabolic or hormonal that influence this equation making it obsolete.
Reduce Stress: yes, this is easier said than done. But stress raises cortisol which then causes an imbalance of glucose and insulin. Insulin is the only fat-storing hormone. Stress can actually make your belly grow. Stress = Belly Fat.
Get Better Sleep: getting enough restful, deep sleep will help prevent belly fat. Sleep is when we heal, and our cells recover. Not getting sufficient sleep will cause your cortisol to elevate at night. Which a mentioned above will alter the balance of glucose and insulin. I have had patients that we worked only on healthy sleep that lost weight. All they did was sleep better, and their pants fit better.
Don’t Drink Your Calories: we all know that we shouldn’t drink soda or sugary drinks. Sure, we have all heard of a ‘beer belly’. Yes, alcohol beverages like wine and beer can cause weight gain. But fruit juices are still loaded with sugar. Any drink with sugar will raise your glucose and then your insulin, then your belly. That goes for electrolyte sports drinks that are loaded with sugar. Even coconut water has a lot of sugar in it. Some protein powders are secretly loaded with sugar. If your protein shake/powder has more than 5 grams of carbohydrates, do not drink it. Ideally, find a protein shake that has 2 grams of carbs. Also, do not drink a protein shake/powder that has high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in it.
Don’t go on a Diet: As mentioned above, reducing your caloric intake will only backfire on you. Reducing your calories, give the signal to your body that there is not enough food. The starvation method will only slow your metabolism down. And when you do actually eat like a normal person, you will gain the weight back plus more. I have had many patients restrict their calories to 1000 (which is starvation). Only to report they lost a whopping 2 pounds. From there it plateaus, and eventually, the scale starts to climb and climb.
Eat Less Often: I know, I know, we have always been told to eat small frequent meals. Eating small frequent meals that are carbohydrate based will only make you insulin and glucose continuously elevated. Remember, insulin is the only fat-storing hormone. Consistently elevated levels of insulin will only ensure weight gain. I understand that small frequent meals could keep you from binging. But eating at proper intervals with the right amount of healthy fats and protein can also promote weight loss and reduce the urge to binge.
Reduce Cardio and High-Intensity Exercise: High-intensity cardiovascular exercise raises cortisol. A sure way to burn your muscle protein and raise cortisol is to do high-intensity cardio. This can backfire on your weight loss goals. A better alternative is to do weight resistance training and hiking and walking.
Increase Resistance Based Exercise: As mentioned above a really good form of exercise to reduce belly fat is to lift weights. Anything that builds muscle helps increase your personal metabolic rate. This would include, walking, hiking, interval training, weights.
Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates: I know this sounds like a given, that all people know this. But refined carbs can have a lower calories amount than healthy proteins and fats. When people are trying to reduce calories, they end up skipping healthy proteins and fats, because of the ‘high-calorie’ load. Instead, they will opt for highly refined carbs such as pasta, crackers, cereal to keep the caloric intake down. This raises the insulin for more weight gain. And this will increase cravings and binging to an extreme.
Consume More Healthy Fats: as mentioned above healthy fats might have more calories. But they are much better to help lose belly fat. Healthy fats keep you satiated longer, reduce the urge to binge and increase metabolic hormones for an increased metabolic rate. Note: do not consume healthy fats with refined carbohydrates or sugars. It is best to consume fats away from refined and starchy carbs. Fats and carbs together cause a greater insulin response, which will promote more fat storage.
Increase Healthy Forms of Protein: Low carb, high healthy fat is important for reducing belly fat. But you need to make sure to have sufficient protein. This will keep you satiated and reduce sugar urges. Also will provide you with essential amino acids and fatty acids, B vitamins, iron and other healthy minerals.
Improve Liver Function: The liver is the most powerful fat burning organ we have. If it is distracted by dealing with detoxifying, stress, sugar, alcohol then it cannot work as well for fat burning. Working on liver function can be essential for losing belly fat.
These tips for losing belly fat apply to all ages and genders. We have always been told that we need to eat less and exercise more. Then we are disappointed with ourselves when this flawed strategy doesn’t work. It is not you, it is the faulty premise that weight loss has been built on since the 1950’s. Starving yourself if not going to work to lose weight or belly fat and is not maintainable. This episode is meant to help you lose belly fat and keep it off.