It’s 12:05 pm.
You’re sitting at your desk, thinking about lunch and debating if you should take the healthy route or cave in and grab a sandwich from the corner store….
You are going to the gym later in the day, so you figure you can just burn off the sandwich if you cave.
You know this isn’t the best way to handle it, but beach season is still weeks away, so what can one sandwich hurt?
Well, unfortunately, it can hurt a lot more than you realize because despite taking a gym class, that sandwich isn’t going to just “disappear.”
Sadly, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, regardless of how many workouts you cram into one day and how much we wish this to be true.
A steady gym regimen is great for your mind, but is it really enough to give you that body you’ve been dreaming about?
Too many people overemphasize the importance of the gym while undervaluing the importance of a healthy diet.
This results in having bad food habits and a rigorous gym schedule.
ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN
What does this mean?
Basically, if you have a wobbly tummy, going to the gym and doing rounds of sit-ups won’t get rid of the stomach fat. You need to address the fat, by addressing what you eat first.
We’ve all got abs, but you have to reduce your body fat before you can see them.
In short, you can’t drink a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc every night and have the abs….
1. Cut back on the carbs
Many of us think nothing of getting a sandwich and a packet of crisps at lunchtime, but when you’re sitting at your desk all day, you don’t need to load yourself up with carbohydrates.
If you’re exercising, then your body definitely needs them for energy and the restoration process, but if you don’t exercise them off they can turn to fat in your system. (By the way, this is not what the government’s ‘eat well’ plate advises but this is what all the top experts now say, and since the nation is overweight who do you think knows best?)
Cut back on lunchtime sandwiches, toast and sugar-laden cereals for breakfast (even the ones you think are good for you often aren’t) and pasta for supper.
2. Ditch the drink
Alcohol is beyond and above the worst thing you can put into your system – it has no nutritional benefit and is a triple-edged sword for fat gain.
Reason one, is that people generally make bad eating decisions after a few drinks, meaning we readily reach for pizza, takeaway or cheesy chips after a few glasses of wine.
Secondly, many alcoholic drinks are high in sugar, especially anything with a sugary mixer.
Our system sees alcohol as a poison, since your body burns alcohol as a preferential fuel source to get rid of it, you don’t burn carbs, proteins or fats. This means that the sugar in your alcohol plus anything you eat whilst tipsy will go straight to your stomach and hips.
Thirdly, alcohol can even change our hormone levels, converting testosterone into oestrogen which makes women bigger and can even bring on man boobs in men – tell your husband/ boyfriend that when he’s reaching for his fifth pint next time.
3. Stop sneaky snacking
For so long we’ve been told to eat ‘little and often’. God knows who came up with this advice because it seems this is now considered wrong. As nutritional therapist Amelia Freer of Freer Nutrition explains, snacking in between meals can spike your insulin levels, especially if you’re eating sweet food or carbohydrates. “Insulin,” Amelia explains in week two of her Bikini Body Summer School, “Has the job of transporting excess sugar out of the blood – our body is only comfortable with one and a half to two teaspoons of sugar in your blood at one time. Unless you are a professional athlete, it is most likely that insulin will frog march this sugar straight to your hip and tum, creating what we well know as the muffin top or spare tyre.”
Freer’s advice is to avoid temptation by cutting out snacks altogether. This is a tough call but it was by far the one piece of information that gives immediate results.
4. Don’t be afraid of fats
Eating more fat was initially a weird concept for me, but I have discovered that good fats (e.g. nuts, avocado, feta cheese, goats cheese, full fat Greek yoghurt) are essential to a healthy body and diet and whatever you might think, if eaten correctly these good fats don’t make you fat (it’s the carbs and sugar that are the main culprits) and I have actually lost weight since eating more of the stuff.
The idea of ‘low-fat’ is something that all leading nutritionists now believe to be low-grade advice, , the concept of low-fat was brought in in the 70s and we have only seen obesity levels rise.
People who shy away from fats often replace it with carbohydrates and sugar which will then lead to much more unstable energy levels and a lower intake of micronutrients such as zinc, magnesium and iron.
One example of low-fat being bad advice is Special K – it is low in fat yes, but Kellogg’s add a load of sugar to make up for blandness of taste. Sugar + carbs does not = the healthy ‘red swimsuit’ its manufacturers try to make you believe.
Since I increased the fat in my diet, my hair and nails grow quicker than I can cut them and I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence but I literally haven’t been ill for a year. A word of warning – avoid all trans fats, which are processed fats found in cakes and biscuits to give them a longer shelf life – these should be avoided at all costs. If you see the words ‘partially hydrogenated fat’ on a label, run.
5. Eat protein at every meal
You’ve seen those guys at the gym drinking protein shakes right? Well, if you want to get lean and increase your muscular definition, you need to up your protein intake.
But do you actually know why?
It’s called the thermic effect of food – protein speeds up your metabolism, but it also provides the building block for so much that happens in your body from cells to muscles, skin, nails and hair as well as hormones.
Eat protein at every meal. If protein powder doesn’t appeal, then try adding eggs, salmon, full fat Greek yoghurt, chicken or turkey to your diet. Protein also makes you feel fuller for longer so you are less likely to snack.
6. Sleep more and de-stress
Lack of sleep and stress can increase cortisol levels (the hormone linked to our fight or flight response) but it can also decrease the thyroid stimulating hormone which will in turn decrease your metabolism and cause weight gain.
Sleep loss basically increases age related issues, and it takes longer to stabilize blood sugar levels. Which could explain why it takes new mums with up-all-night babies so damn long to lose stubborn stomach fat. If this is you, there is hope – once the blighters start sleeping and you do too, that spare tyre should be easier to reduce.
7. Knock back the supplements
Many health experts have told me that taking Omega supplements can help reduce stomach fat as they help our entire system work more smoothly.
Fish oils can reduce inflammation, and there is also evidence that they help your heart and help prevent cancer too.
There is also increasing evidence, that taking vitamin D can help with weight loss but it’s important to take a high dose.
8. Have a ‘re-feed’ meal
Thankfully belly-blasting is not all about cutting back, and it’s actually not that bad for you to fall off the healthy wagon once a week – in fact it can help speed things up a bit.
It’s important to have a ‘re-feed meal’. This means increasing both calories and carbohydrates once a week, Which will replenish the carbohydrate in your muscle and will allow you to maintain exercise intensity. (a full meal with meat, potatoes, veg by the way; not going out and stuffing your face with a McDonalds.)
A ‘re-feed’ will speed up your metabolism and increase various hormone levels.
9. Remember your hormonal map
If you’re wondering why you have a spare tyre when your friend has a washboard stomach but you both eat the same, then it might be your DNA and your hormones.
We all have a hormonal map, which affects the way fat is distributed around the body. If you could alter your hormones then you could change the way fat comes off you body.
Aas you get older, an increase of fat around your middle is often down to hormone changes.
10. Don’t just stick to sit-ups
Of course, I’m absolutely not saying ditch exercise (far from it) – cardiovascular workouts will help strip fat all over your body, and since being injured a few times recently I have learnt that keeping a strong core is pivotal to maintaining a strong body.
However as I’ve learnt from some seriously tough core sessions, it’s important not to just stick to the traditional old sit-up to get good abs as these only tackle the mid-stomach area.
Instead do sessions that target the upper, lower and sides of the stomach too, from the plank, to press-ups and leg raises.
And above all, remember that results DOES NOT some over night!
It takes commitment, hard work and patients…..