If your muffin top is spilling over the top of your pant’s waistline, don’t give up hope. You can burn off your belly fat with the right strategies. Just doing 1,000 ab crunches every day won’t burn your belly fat.
You must understand the primary cause of your belly fat, namely a caloric imbalance. If you consistently maintain daily caloric surpluses (eating more calories than you burn), you will gain weight and body fat. A good amount of this fat will settle in your gut.
Its important that you burn off belly fat for health reasons. Your appearance will take care of itself. Research has documented that too much belly fat damages blood vessels and cells. Belly fat has also been associated with contributing to coronary artery disease, Metabolic Syndrome and cancer.
According to Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, who is an internationally renowned expert and speaker in women’s health, fitness and nutrition, muffin tops can happen at any age. Pamela calls muffin top after age 40, menopot.
Menopot occurs in women as their sex hormones decrease. This makes it easier to store belly fat instead of fat storing in the butt, hips and thighs.
Call it muffin top, menopot, belly fat or beer gut. The bottom line is that you need to get rid of it! You can do it with a sustained, strategic effort to lean out your entire body.
Here are my 10 tips on how to burn belly fat and keep it off:
1. Get a healthy, managed meal plan and comply with it at least 90% of the time. If you are trying to burn fat and lose weight, nutrition is critical. Eat mainly whole, natural foods that have one ingredient–the food itself. For example, fruits and vegetables have one ingredient.
I don’t ever encourage any diet that significantly omits one of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins). Your body’s metabolism needs all 3 macronutrients to operate properly. So, diets that are very low in carbs or fats will not help your body in the long-term. Fats, which is the most nutrient-dense of the macronutrients (9 calories per gram), can help you feel fuller for longer and thereby help you eat less. Just eat mainly heart-healthy fats like olive oil, salmon and avocado.
Eating fast-digesting carbs immediately before or after your workout will not spike your blood sugar levels. Your body uses carbs for intense weight training and interval cardio.
Set your daily calorie intake based on your basal metabolic rate, your activity level and your goals. This way, you won’t eat too much or too little. Maintaining the right amount of calorie deficit on most days (burning more calories than you consume) is the key to burning fat and losing weight.
2. Eat more protein. Research has proven that protein keeps blood sugar levels more steady when you have a meal that includes carbohydrates. Protein helps you feel fuller for a longer period (slower digestion). Protein also keeps the hunger hormone (ghrelin) in check so your hunger doesn’t spike so high. Just include protein foods with each meal.
Drinking a fast-digesting whey protein drink before and after your weight training workout helps your body repair and rebuild your muscles.
3. Eat more fiber for your overall health and belly fat reduction. Your body cannot digest fiber and there are two forms:
–Soluble fiber dissolves in water and produces a gel-like substance in your stomach. This substance helps digested food move slowly through the small intestine and slows down food absorption and release of nutrients into the bloodstream. Soluble fiber also limits the amount of cholesterol released into the blood. Oats are high in soluble fiber.
–Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down once entering the stomach and increases in size by absorbing water. This type of fiber speeds up foods absorption once it enters into the small intestine. Insoluble fiber cleans your system as it travels through your body.
Eat both types of fiber to help you feel fuller for longer and to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Eating 25-35 grams of daily fiber per day will help fight belly fat. Fruits and vegetables have both types of fiber.
4. Limit sugary drinks and other sugary foods. If you want a fat belly, load up consistently on sugars. Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard endocrinologist, who is widely cited by obesity researchers, says that sweetened drinks are the only specific food that clinical research has directly linked to weight gain. “Highly concentrated starches and sugars promote overeating, and the granddaddy of them all is sugar-sweetened beverages,” said Ludwig, who runs the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
And, avoid high-fructose corn syrup. Your body processes the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup differently than it does regular sugar. It also lowers the hormone leptin in your body. Leptin signals to your brain that you’re full. It causes your liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream (especially true with sugary drinks because they are processed so fast). So, your body wants more and stores more fat at the same time.
5. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. One gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Only fat (9 cal/g) provides more calories than alcohol. So, when you are planning your food and drink consumption, don’t forget the calories from alcohol. When you take a drink of alcohol, your body converts a small amount of it into fat and the rest is converted (by the liver) into a substance called acetate. This acetate is then quickly released into the bloodstream and used as the body’s main source of energy.
So, your body is using the acetate for energy instead of the stored fat in your body. The more you drink, the more fat your body will store (many times belly fat).
Added to this problem is the fact that alcohol consumption can increase your appetite. Researchers from Denmark found that a group of men ate more when they were served beer or wine and they ate less when served a soft drink.
6. Drink plenty of water. This will help you limit sugary drinks that pack on belly fat. Your body is about two-thirds water. Drink water and unsweetened drinks (like tea) most of the time. It will help you eat less and help your body function better.
Drink about half your weight in water every day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water each day.
Remember, certain foods contain large amounts of water. This counts toward your water intake. For instance watermelon is about 90% water and lettuce has about 95% water. Some meats contain as much as 70% water.
Water also helps your body flex muscles, remove wastes, cushion joints, carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells and helps convert food into energy (although water doesn’t provide energy).
You may be experiencing dehydration if you have dry lips/mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea or muscle cramps. When you exercise, drink about a cup of water every 15 minutes.
7. Do regular full body strength training at least 3 days a week to burn total body fat. Spot reduction training won’t work to burn your belly fat. Focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlift, lunges, pullups, chest press, shoulder press and rows because they work large muscle groups and help you burn more calories and fat.
8. Do regular short burst interval cardio workouts. Sprint intervals and bodyweight exercise cardio are top fat burners. Twenty minute cardio sessions (2-3 times a week) will get the job done.
9. Limit prolonged stress in your life. A certain amount of stress is good for us to live efficiently. Too much stress…well, you know the answer. In a Mayo Clinic article, “Stress Basics,” it states:
“When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response.
Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off. Without stress management, all too often your body is always on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems.”
10. Get enough sleep. In a Health.com article, “Why a Lack of Sleep Can Make You Fat, and How to Keep From Gaining Weight” it says the following:
“We have very substantial research that shows if you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie dense foods,” says Charles Samuels, MD, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary, Alberta. “On a simplistic level, your appetite changes.”
Two hormones in your body play an important role in controlling appetite and satiety. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, causing you to eat; leptin suppresses appetite—so you’ll stop eating—and stimulates energy expenditure. In a properly functioning brain, the two hormones are released on and off to regulate normal feelings of hunger. But research has shown that sleep deprivation can alter ghrelin and leptin levels.
“When sleep is restricted to four hours a night, ghrelin levels go up and leptin levels go down,” says National Sleep Foundation spokesperson William Orr, PhD, president and CEO of the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City. “So you have a greater amount of appetite and a greater amount of intake.”
Burn fat and shrink your entire body. That will get rid of your muffin top too.
Download your Free Curves, Abs and Upper Body Fat Burn Manual and start shaping your body faster!
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Her Fitness Hut