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Friday, September 14, 2012
Why Belly Fat is So Hard to Lose
"I just can't seem to lose my belly!" We hear it time and time again. It's one of the most annoying issues for most of us. Your arms are ripped and your legs are toned, but that belly seems to be stubborn and stick around. So why is it that no matter how hard you try, that muffin top still shows it's stuff?
Good news! There’s plenty you can do to better understand what’s going on in your body. Once you do, you’ll be better equipped to battle the extra belly fat that seems so reluctant to leave your side(s).
The Biology of Belly Fat
The number one reason it’s so hard to lose belly fat: hormones. With women, menopause comes and a drop in estrogen occurs; this decrease alters where the body stores fat, making women more prone to gaining visceral belly fat.
Other hormonal imbalances are decreased levels of leptin (an appetite suppressant) and increased levels of ghrelin (an appetite stimulant). These imbalances are caused by a lack of, or disturbed sleep. Ever notice if you don't sleep well, the next day you are extra hungry? Your hormones are out of whack and will cause you to crave more food.
Another hormone known as insulin is also affected big time by the kinds of foods you're eating and the timing of your meals. Skipping meals or waiting too long will lower your blood sugar, at which point you will feel starving and reach for food. If you turn to the wrong foods or over-eat, you will overwhelm your system and spike your blood sugar, which in turn allows you to store fat, not burn it.
Additionally, the stresses of life – kids, college tuitions or the mortgage – can lead to an increase in cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which also triggers your body to store fat around the middle.
Belly Fat Busters
Estrogen, cortisol and other hormones are pretty hard to contend with, so doing what you've done in the past is most likely not going to work as well as it once did. You’ve got to change it up, from the way you eat to how you move.
Forget the elyptical for an hour. Slow aerobic cardio actually increases your cortisol levels and prevents you from losing your belly. Try high intensity interval training for your cardio and increase your strength training to speed up your metabolism and increase muscle tone.
Foods That Pack on Belly Fat
Packaged foods, partially hydrogenated oils and enriched flours are not your friends. Above all, remember this one concept: trans-fats. Avoid it at all costs. Researchers have found that the trans-fats found in margarine, packaged cookies, crackers and pasta increase fat in your midsection, and can actually redistribute fat from other parts of the body to the belly. Sugar is also responsible for a your midsection problems. Sugar spikes your insulin and sends your precious blood sugar on a crazy roller coaster ride, where your body has no idea what to do other than to store more fat. This includes too much fruit. Fruit is fructose which is a form of sugar and has a similar effect to white table sugar when abused. Eat your lower sugar fruits like apples, pears, berries, peaches, plums and nectarines.
Foods that Burn Belly Fat
Eat more monounsaturated fats, found in nuts, olive oil and seeds. Other fat burners include avocados, green tea and whole grains. Sea vegetables and algaes are also very helpful and contain important trace minerals that help to detox the body and fight excess fat. Put them on your grocery list, and keep your fridge full and your body running on these healthy sources of energy. Your trimmer tummy will thank you.