We all want one thing more than coffee in the morning, lose belly fat especially us women!
With beach days coming up super fast, we all want to look our best for the summer so today we will talk about a different approach and understanding of belly fat and how to lose it.
It can be very frustrating when you eat right and exercise and your waistline doesn’t budge but you have to understand that belly fat is both a caloric phenomenon AND an hormonal phenomenon.
There are 3 types of belly fat:
- Deep fat also called visceral fat it lies around the organs under the abdominal muscles and can’t be pinched
- Superficial subcutaneous belly fat is the one that hangs over the waistline and can be pinched, you pinched didn’t you?
- Deep subcutaneous belly fat is a hybrid of the two
Let’s focus on the first two, we’ll keep it as simple as possible…
Visceral fat is harder to store and easier to burn compared to subcutaneous fat because It is more responsive to cortisol (stress hormone) and less sensitive to insulin (carb and fat metabolism hormone).
Three steps are required to burn fat:
- Release: fat has to be released from a fat cell also called lipolysis
- Delivery: Fat travels through the blood to get to a cell that will burn it
- Burning: Fat enters the cell to be burned also called lipid oxidation
Two enzymes regulates the flux into and out of fat cells: LPL (lipoprotein release) and HSL (hormone sensitive lipase).
Several hormones impact LPL and HSL; insulin, cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), estrogen and progesterone (female hormomes) and testosterone (male hormone).
It is important to understand that the steps of fat burning are directly impacted by these hormones in order to figure out how to lose the stubborn belly fat.
Here is a list of these hormones and how it impacts your belly fat:
INSULIN has many different effects depending on parts of the body especially if you are insulin resistant (meaning the body is unable to use it properly):
- Insulin resistance in the brain will increase hunger
- Insulin resistance in the muscles will lead to fatigue
- Insulin resistance in the liver will raise blood sugars
Being insulin resistant in these areas of the body will make you unable to burn fat and sugar and will prevent you from feeling satiated after eating.
We will discuss later on how to fix this issue
CORTISOL is both a fat releasing and fat storing hormone depending on how much is present, for how long and what other hormones are with it.
- In the brain it regulates appetite and is associated with cravings
- In the brain it will drive you to eat more of the wrong foods more often
- In the body it causes immature fat cells to become mature (not good)
- They are 400% more cortisol receptors in belly fat
ESTROGEN, PROGESTERONE AND TESTOSTERONE: Fat tissue has receptors for these hormones and they impact fat metabolism
- Estrogen has anti insulin and anti cortisol effects on the belly
- Progesterone has anti cortisol effects as well, the combination of both explains why younger women have less belly fat
- High levels of testosterone in women are associated with belly fat
- Lower levels of testosterone in men are associated with belly fat
I know it was a bit technical but necessary to understand the effects of more than just diet and exercise on your muffin top.
Now that we understand, let’s talk about how to get rid of it. First, I’m sorry to say but dieting WON’T WORK as the long term success of the standard dieting model is around 5% and 66% of dieters will gain back all the weight with some added fat primarily in the belly!
As we now know, losing belly fat requires balanced hormones AND a calorie deficit so the “eat less, exercise more” will not work as it only accomplishes the calorie deficit part of it.
Ok so we know that insulin and cortisol produce the worst impact on belly, it is important to be controlled first.
Let’s think of it as INSULIN is a starch and sugar hormone and CORTISOL is a sleep and stress hormone:
SO SIMPLY START HERE:
- Reduce carbs intake
- Moderate starch/sugar intake
- Increase protein intake
- Increase vegetables intake
- Sleep and relax more (baths, sex yes sex is relaxing, laughter, hot showers)
- short and intense exercise
- Low intensity exercise (long walk, tai chi)
THEN CHOOSE ONE SIMPLE MEAL PLAN:
THE 3:2:1 PLAN OR EAT LESS EXERCISE LESS
- 3 meals a day
- 2 meals that should be mostly protein and fiber with less starch
- 1 meal should have heavier starch (best consumed post workout)
Look at this plan as you were looking at your plate:
- 3 parts should be vegetables
- 2 parts should be protein
- 1 part should be starch
This plan works well is you are not a heavy exerciser; add walking and a few weight training sessions to this plan
THE 3:2:2 PLAN OR EAT MORE EXERCISE MORE
- 3 meals a day
- 2 snacks a day
- 2 means double the starch intake once per day (postworkout best)
Look at this plan as you were looking at your plate both meals and snacks:
- 1/2 vegetable
- 1/4 protein
- 1/4 starch
Exercise on a regular basis with cardio and strength training sessions.
FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- Good sources of proteins are:
- lean chicken or turkey grilled not fried
- seafood and fish
- nuts (unsalted and unprocessed)
- Good sources of healthy starch
- brown rice
- legumes (lentils, peas..)
- sweet potatoes (with skin)
Hope this helps you get that figure you want in time for the summer!