Beer belly. Love handles. Fat.
Whatever you want to call it, excess weight around your middle can be the most difficult weight on your body to lose. It is also more dangerous to your health than those extra pounds that accumulate on your hips or thighs.
The fat around your belly is an outward sign of deep, internal fat surrounding your organs. Fat in this area causes an increase of hormones that raise blood pressure and increase bad cholesterol, putting you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
Belly fat has also been associated with an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and metabolic syndrome.
What’s to blame for belly fat? Stress, age, poor lifestyle choices, and genetics play a role—but so does your diet. Especially a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.
Here’s what not to eat and what to eat if you want to banish belly fat.
Recipe for a Fat Belly:
It is fair to say that weight gain around your waistline and anywhere else on your body is caused by consumption of too many “bad” calories. That being said, there does seem to be certain foods and drinks especially associated with an increase of fat cells in the abdominal area.
While you may use it playfully, the phrase “beer belly” is an accurate description of what goes on when you down too much alcohol. Drinking too much may make it difficult to fasten your jeans. Why does this happen? When you drink alcohol, you tend to take in more sugar and carbohydrates than you can handle. This excess sugar is stored as body fat. Excess sugar also increases physiological stress, which can suppress your immune system, depress your thyroid and create other hormonal imbalances so you are hungrier, causing you to consume more calories than normal.
Foods containing trans fat are another contributing factor for a large waist. Trans fat is a manmade fat created with partially hydrogenated oil. This unnatural fat leads to belly fat and moves fat from other parts of the body to the abdominal area. Where can you find trans fat in your diet? Cookies, crackers, pastries, potato chips, margarine, fried foods, and packaged foods all have this unwanted intruder.
Sugar-sweetened beverages and sodas are another possible culprit for belly fat. The empty calories and high amount of high-fructose corn syrup (a manmade sweetener) cause abnormal weight gain in the midsection. High-fructose corn syrup is also found in foods such as ketchup, mayonnaise, jam, canned fruits, yogurt, bread, and even fruit juice. Choose healthier versions of these foods wisely to avoid high-fructose corn syrup.
Finally, refined, low-fiber grains are also responsible for belly fat. To avoid these, skip foods such as white rice, white bread, and sugary cereals.
Recipe for a Flat Belly:
Whittling your waistline starts with a well-balanced nutrition intake, low in sugar and regular exercise. A recipe for a flat belly starts with a diet rich in fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds, high quality oils, and lean meat. Moving toward a slimmer waistline also requires you to move away from the fatty foods and drinks listed above.
A truly flat belly comes from a combination of a consistent, challenging exercise routine coupled with clean eating.
Brien Shamp brings you 22 years of experience as a Body Transformation Expert, Personal Trainer, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Massage Therapist, Strength Coach for College & Pro Athletes and Reiki Practitioner. In 2011 he was nominated one of the top ten trainers in the country. Brien has a degree in Biomechanics from UC Davis and extensive graduate studies in Exercise Physiology from SF State. Brien won first place in the Met-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer Contest in 1999 and was nominated Best in the Bay by KRON 4 for Weight Loss in 2009. He is an active author in Parenting on the Peninsula, Ms. Fitness Magazine and his FREE Blog with thousands of subscribers at www.BrienShamp.com.