How to lose Belly Fat
The first thing to remember about fat loss is that it must be, without exception, specific to your body type and your lifestyle. Simply following a diet that someone has written in a magazine or book will not necessarily give you the same results as the models or people they advertise with. This is in my opinion the main reason why people fail with fat loss. This book is written to guide you with your fat loss program but it’s important that you think outside the box and adapt this to your circumstances and lifestyle.
The human body is a complex system and so must be treated with respect and humility. You must understand your strengths and weaknesses and respect these before embarking on a fat loss program.
I have worked with hundreds of people over the years, some have dropped a stone in a month others it has taken 6 months and this is down to three main factors.
Your Body Type
You are either lucky with your body or not, that’s just the way you are. I myself am not naturally lean and so have to be vigilant around diet and exercise in order to maintain a fit and healthy looking body. Those thin people that eat junk food all the time and never put on weight have naturally conditioned metabolisms. Their bodies are very efficient at burning fat at rest and are not, what I would call ‘sugar burners’.
‘Sugar burners’ find it difficult to burn fat at rest and will predominantly use sugars, which include the obvious sugars and most importantly the so called dreaded carbohydrates. Sugar burners will be the most miserably people in the first few weeks of a new diet/exercise program as it can take up to 4 weeks for your bodies to adjust. Your body will go into withdrawal from carbohydrates as it tries to figure out how to turn fat into energy. Remember if you have been a sugar burner all your life suddenly telling your body to change is going to be met with some resistance. Think of sugar as a bad relationship, whilst it gives you instant gratification it will never for fill you long term and it’s time to move on.
Our bodies have muscle memory, so if you have done regular exercise (3 times a week) over a number of years you will get back into shape faster. Most of the before and after pictures you see in various weight loss publications have used people who have been in shape before. This is because your body will remember how to readjust itself to a previously conditioned state and will not essentially have to start from scratch, thus seeing results much faster than someone who has never trained before.
Discipline is the number one factor in a fat loss program. The more disciplined you are the faster you will create a new relationship with your food, exercise and essentially your body. This seems like an obvious statement to make but the fact is, is that most people whilst they say they are committed are not. Time and time again I have clients who use stress, parties, work functions, weekends etc, as an excuse. Here are some useful coaching tools for you to use.
Quite often you will be snowed under at work and food becomes second place. So here are some suggestions for you:
1, Always have healthy snacks such as pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almond nuts, green grapes, pears and mixed seeds at your desk to use as your mid morning and mid afternoon snacks
2, I suggest getting a good meal replacement shake which you can have for lunch if time restricts you to go out
3, if you need to rush out and get something quickly choose a non pasta based salad or soup and never a sandwich
Eating out is the biggest reason why people slip off their fat loss program, either your boss is pushing you to order a pizza or your friends are ordering a big bowl of pasta. I suggest the following
- Remind yourself you are not on a diet forever
- There are always plenty of healthy options that once you have eaten it will leave you feeling full and virtuous
- Play the movie through think about how you will feel after you have binged out on an unhealthy meal and how it will affect your fat loss goals
- Ask the wait to serve the meal with no sauce and vegetables instead or carbohydrates and a fatty sauce
- Order a side salad with your meal to fill you up
Getting Home Late
You have had a long day at work you get home late and there is nothing in the fridge so you order a take away.
- Always keep your fridge full of pre cooked meats and fish and salad material
- If you have to get a take away try to go for a fresh meat kebab or a dry curry with no carbs
- Play the movie through, eating take always or a big bowl of pasta late a night will pile on the ponds and leave you feeling lethargic the following day.
Weekends are the hardest times, you want to relax have fun and eat what you want.
Some diets allow you one day off, I don’t think this is the route to go, it’s only for 4 months and one day off often leads to more so best to be strict.
There are plenty of delicious dishes out there for you to choose from and cook so always go healthy
You go round to a friend’s house who has cooked a big pasta dish and a lovely cake for desert.
- Explain you are on a diet and have a small portion and load up on vegetables
- Don’t eat the pudding, they will still be your friends J
Accept that your nutrition isn’t going to be perfect, whilst you should stay on track things always come up and sometimes we just want so pig out, or miss an exercise session. Having some acceptance around this is key for staying on track, don’t give yourself a hard time just keep going.
I feel its important to explain in some detail about how nutrition is broken down and the effects it has on your body.
The main function of carbohydrates is to provide the body with a source of energy or fuel. Carbohydrates are transformed by the body into one substance, glucose. Glucose is a form of sugar that is carried in the blood and transported to the cells for energy. Any glucose not used by the cells is converted into glycogen that is stored in the muscles and liver. The body’s glycogen storage capacity is limited, so any unused glucose is converted to fat. This is why it’s important to reduce but not eliminate your carbohydrates with a fat loss program.
These are made up of units, or molecules, of sugar, and in most cases are sweet in taste. Simple carbohydrates provide a quick release energy, which means your body will break them down quickly. This is why you will feel an energy burst straight after eating foods with a high simple carbohydrate, or sugar content. These foods are classed as high glycaemic and should be avoided. These include:
- White, brown, muscovado, Demerara, icing sugar, caster sugar, sugar cubes
- Treacle, molasses, honey, maple syrup and any other syrup i.e. rice syrup
- Ice Cream, frozen yoghurt, sorbet
- Sweets, chocolate and chewing gum
- Biscuits, cakes, buns
- Soft drinks, squashes and fizzy drinks
- Some breads, some crisps, some breakfast cereals
- Packaged and processed foods
- refined grains – such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, cornflower, custard powder, cornflakes and other cereals that are not wholegrain or wholemeal
- Sweeteners and additives – in soft drinks, added to hot drinks and in many packaged foods
These consist of starches and dietary fibre. As the name suggests they have a more complicated structure than simple carbohydrates and as a result the body takes longer to break them down. As a result you won’t experience a sudden burst in energy after eating them. Instead the energy is released slower and you will feel fuller for longer. A good example is eating a bowl of porridge oats versus a bowl of cornflakes.
The carb element of your diet should consist of complex carbohydrates such as;
- Fresh vegetables and herbs such as spinach, lettuce, rocket, courgettes, broccoli, aubergines, peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, baby new potatoes, cabbage, spring onions, mushrooms and red onions; basil, coriander, parsley, thyme etc. Particularly good for the liver are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, watercress, beetroot and onions
- Rye bread – pumpernickel or sourdough; Terence Stamp wheat and yeast free breads
- Rough oat cakes
- Whole wheat pasta; wheat free pasta
- Brown basmati rice
- Soba noodles – these are made from gluten free buckwheat – great in salads, stir fries
- Quinoa – similar to couscous but richer in protein and minerals
- Whole organic oats
- Dried or canned legumes and pulses – such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas
Fat is good for you, and eating the right type of fat is vital for optimal health. Fat plays a vital role in the delivery of vitamins A,D,E and K, nutrients stored in fatty tissue and the liver until your body needs them.
It’s become common place that fat contributes to weight gain and therefore a diet program should cut out all fats in order for it to work. Not only is this not true its detrimental to any diet plan, what’s important is that you eat the right types and quantities of fats.
Trans fats were invented in the 1950s. Natural oils are heated to a very high temperature and bonded with hydrogen to create an entirely new form of fat that stays solid at room temperature allowing manufacturers to churn out thousands upon thousands of food products that appealed to our natural cravings for fatty foods. Due to its complex and unnatural structure our bodies have a hard time dealing with it. If the label says partially hyrdrogenated oil look for another alternative.
Saturated fats are naturally occurring fats found in meat and dairy products. The problem with saturated fats is that when they enter your body they tend to do the same thing they did when they were in a pigs or cows body: rather than be burned for energy, they’re most likely to be stored as fat. This is not to say they should be eliminated however, but you should choose your meat and dairy products wisely.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: Omega-3s and omega-6s. You’ve probably heard of omega-3 fatty acids. They are the fats found in fish, and a diet high in omega-3s has been shown to help protect the heart from cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3s actually alters the body’s metabolism and spurs it to burn fat more efficiently. There are supplements out there you can take but fish is also a great source of lean protein so I suggest you get your fish oils from fish. If this is not achievable however then I suggest you get a good omega supplement.
Flax seed is a great source of omega-3s and fiber, and I suggest you start implementing it into your diet immediately. It has a slightly nutty taste and can be sprinkled on almost anything.
Monosaturated fats are good and found in nuts, olives, peanuts, avocadoes and olive and canola oils. Like omega-3s, these fats help reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease, but they also help you burn fat. Research has found that the body burns more fat in the 5 hours following a meal high in monosaturated fats than after a meal rich in saturated fats.
So to conclude you should stay away from all processed foods, increase your fish intake, reduce your fatty meats such as pork lamb and read meat and add in flax seed to your meals where appropriate.
There is a lot of confusion around how much protein one should consume in a day. The UK department of health recommends 36 grams per day for women and 44 grams for men. This is of course a blanket statement and does not take into account body typing or daily activity. The basic principle of this diet is to get your body burning fat more effectively and this is done by reducing your carbs and increasing your protein levels. The diet laid out in the program as a result has much higher levels of protein which can be reduced once you have reached your desired body shape.
It’s important to pay attention to the types of protein you consume. Chicken and fish are very rich sources of protein with a low fat level, others such as lamb, duck and some cheese are high in protein but also high in unwanted, and largely saturated fats.
Vegetarians often find it hard to implement enough protein into their diets however good sources of protein include soya, tofu, beans, and pulses as well as this dairy products such as yogurt.
Proteins – all organic if possible
- Chicken and turkey
- Venison; venison sausages
- Fresh oily fish – for omega 3 – such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, tinned/jar of anchovies, fresh tuna – have 3-4 times a week
- White fish
- Red meat – no more than 2 times a week
- Sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds
- Unsalted nuts – Brazil’s, Almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts
- Yoghurts (live)
If Nothing Changes Nothing Changes
You will notice I haven’t talked that much about exercise and mostly about nutrition, this is because your nutrition is key to loosing belly fat. And if you aren’t feeding your body what it needs to perform, your exercise routines may not be as effective as you think. I also don’t want this article to turn into a book so watch out for more articles on exercise and fat loss. With regards to exercise thought I would suggest no less than 12 hours a month.
My professional opinion is that you should all go and see a well respected nutritionist and do things properly from the outset. There are so many myths in the market place and fad diets that it can be confusing. I’ve worked with clients in the past who once they had proper blood tests done and knew what foods worked for them, saw much better results, especially when it comes to that stubborn belly fat.
Carbs aren’t evil, food should be enjoyable but pay attention to the types of carbs you are eating and your portion size.
I’m not a huge fan of dairy and I always suggest to clients to illuminate this initially
If you are a sugar burner and the chances are if you are not already slim you are, then you need to be prepared to be a bit miserable for between 2 to 4 weeks whilst your body adjusts.
Your diet and exercise will require constant adjustment in order for you to see the best results and should be specific to you.
My biggest bit of advice for loosing belly fat is this. Do not assume what works for one person will work for you, if you are struggling seek professional advice don’t spend hours slogging away at the gym and eating food you don’t particularly enjoy when its not working for you as it will only lead to disappointment, if nothing changes nothing changes.