Belly fat is probably the hardest fat to lose yet the most desired by women…not fair! Losing belly fat would have to be my most asked question by my clients and probably the most important one as excess belly fat and poor gut health can lead to disease. Having an understanding of why we gain weight on our belly’s and how to lose it and keep it off are key for getting those flat abs you’ve been striving for and great health! This post will not be focusing on abdominal exercises, as although ab and core work are important for strengthening and defining that area, doing a 1000 crunches is not the way to decreasing belly fat!
1. Sleep more. When you are tired you produce more ghrelin, which triggers sugar cravings. Not having adequate sleep can alter your hormones and elevate cortisol which is a stress hormone that increases fat storage. Opting for an early-to-bed, early-rise sleeping schedule has been linked to lower belly fat and overall body composition.
2. Strength train with a high volume (lots of sets) and less rest (10-60 seconds) to increase growth hormone which decreases body fat (no, you will not look like Arnie).
3. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach. Contrary to belief, this actually lowers the body’s use of fat for fuel and results in less calorie burn during recovery.
4. Stick to solid foods prior to training (45-60mins) rather than a protein shake (have this straight after instead). This will maintain peak energy and focus for the duration of your workout which results in more calories burned and less belly fat.
5. Reduce stress to decrease cortisol production. Try mediation, yoga, walking/running by the ocean, life coaching, counseling, vision boarding, journaling, writing a daily gratitude list…whatever works for you!
6. Ensure you have a healthy gut. Compromised gastrointestinal health directly leads to elevated cortisol and belly fat gain. A high quality probiotic supplement and probiotic foods (kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi) are essential for gut health.
7. Minimise toxins. Eliminate or greatly reduce processed foods, alcohol, sugar, sodas, excess caffeine, stress, antibiotics and the contraceptive pill. Hypoallergenic foods such as gluten, wheat and dairy fall into this category too.
8. Do interval training for conditioning such as sprinting. For example, six 200-meter track sprints, 4 minutes rest, or 60 cycle sprints of 8 seconds each, 12 seconds rest. This will elevate your metabolism for hours, burning more belly fat which = flatter stomach.
9. Make sure you’re having enough fibre (at least 25 grams a day) in your diet and doing at least one number two daily! Low fiber intake leads to poorer insulin health and more belly fat gain. I take Juice Plus and have daily green smoothies to keep my fibre intake high.
10. Take magnesium before bed to help you sleep and reduce cortisol levels.
11. Include lots of Vitamin C in your diet to help balance cortisol spikes under times of stress (including exercise). Foods high in Vit C include, goji berries, kiwi fruit, capsicum, camu camu powder, broccoli, strawberries, kale and Juice Plus wholefood supplement.
12. Eat antioxidant-rich foods like berries, dark chocolate (in moderation), leafy greens and olive oil to prevent inflammation.
13. Eat seeds, especially organic ground flax seeds, because they promote elimination of chemical estrogens and will decrease belly fat gain.
14. Eat a high protein, high good fat diet to increase metabolism.
15. Support insulin sensitivity: Take omega-3 fats such as fish oil to make your cells receptive to insulin and eat less than 150g of carbs a day only from low-glycemic sources.
Hope this has been helpful!