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stomach-fatWeight around the mid-section is always a concern. This usually stems from a cosmetic view-point, but there are many health concerns that relate to extra pounds around the waist. Stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise all lead to excess weight and for many, that fat accumulates around the belly. As a personal trainer, its one of the largest concerns for my cliental over the years and one area we’re often keen to work on.

Belly fat is serious and increases your risk for many health problems. There is a strong correlation between central obesity and diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke – all these can lead to an early grave and many a time do! This is often referred to as metabolic syndrome and happens after a shift in the blood chemistry impacting insulin production and hormone balance. Even if you are in a normal weight range (based on your BMI), you may have excess belly fat and increase your risk of these same diseases. I often see this in men, young men at that! With low muscle mass and a rather large stomach, even though they may want to build muscle, I have to educate them that firstly due to their hormones being out a whack that it won’t happen, not because im against it but their own body is! Secondly they’re likely to put more fat on! Once again proving that a number on the scale may not be the best indication of health and one reason why as a trainer i use several means to assess a persons health and fitness.

Belly fat is unique because it does not just lay dormant, taking up extra space and making your next shopping trip frustrating or limits your dancing skills, instead hormones and inflammatory substances are secreted from this fat. This happens because it is widely believed that abdominal fat breaks down easily into fatty acids that have easy access to the liver through the portal vein. Fatty acids are not the only ones to blame for belly fat even though you may have been educated to believe they are, but it is increased insulin levels from the constant influx of carbs from the diet being the main cause. When the body does not use the glucose provided, it is stored…as fat, you should all know by now if you’ve spoken to me or read my previous work that I don’t hate carbs, far from it but they have to be controlled, timed and managed just like you would with other parts of your life.

Another interesting side effect of excessive visceral fat is the presence of fatty liver. At one point fatty liver was a condition observed mainly in chronic alcoholics. However, as obesity rates have risen, so has the incidence of this disease. This happens because of the fatty acids delivered to the liver that are then stored at fat. Chronic liver issues are certianly something you dont want going on!

Fighting the Fat

The main way to deal with belly fat comes from serious lifestyle changes with the right balance of diet and exercise interventions. Here at BrodiePT.com I can customize meal plans and exercise programmes designed to help you work away that belly fat and improve your overall life!

Diet Your Belly Away

There are no specific foods to target belly fat, reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet can help reduce belly fat. Also, increasing your intake of citrus fruits, broccoli, kale and bell peppers (all containing vitamin C) can help reduce belly fat by regulating cortisol levels in the blood stream. Keep in mind the body can only handle about 500mg of the vitamin at a time so if you are taking a supplement, consider taking it in the morning and evening instead of all at once.

Foods high in vitamin C include:

  • broccoli
  • kiwi
  • strawberry
  • red pepper
  • collard greens
  • kale
  • parsley
  • red cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts

Inflammation

Inflammation may play a big role in increased belly fat. Focus on foods that help reduce this inflammation such as salmon, anchovies, walnuts, flaxseeds, and grass-fed meats. The common inflammation-fighting nutrient found in these foods is omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a great 1-2 punch because they also help reduce cortisol levels. If you are concerned about your fatty acid intake you may want to consider taking a fish oil or flaxseed supplement daily. Personally i recommend everyone of my personal training clients take a omega 3 supplement – the benefits are too large for you too not!

Bloating and inflammation within the digestive tract can lead to poor gut health so you must provide it with the good bacteria it needs. Probiotics – found in yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and buttermilk – help to boost our overall immune system while also helping our gut get rid of waste. Additionally, there is a strong connection between bad bacteria and weight gain. If you are not having regular bowel movements (at least once a day) changes are you holding toxins from these bad bacteria in your gut. Drinking plenty of water, consuming foods high in probiotics and reaching your fibre goal will help move these toxins out of the body and help flatten your belly, plus make you feel much better!

Exercise Your Belly Away

Cardiovascular exercise will help shrink the size of your body, ultimately reducing belly fat. There is evidence that 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, completed at least 4 times per week was most effective in targeting visceral fat – or belly fat. BUT Combining cardiovascular exercise with resistance training is much more effective in ridding the body of abdominal fat than simply cardiovascular training – BrodiePT.com can create the perfect routine to do this for you.

Interval training may be your best bet to incorporate cardiovascular exercise with weight training. For example, run at a brisk pace for 45 to 60 seconds then stop and do a compound muscular exercise. The key is to keep your heart rate elevated during the entire workout to burn more calories and fat whilst creating that all important post exercise calorie burn for hours afterwards! (EPOC)

While you may be able to reduce abdominal fat with diet alone, to create a flatter more lean look in that area you will need to strengthen those muscles through correct exercises which target the muscles that contract to keep it all tight. I see many ‘slim’ clients who start training with me and have poor core strength and or general abdominal engagement, creating either chronic back pain, poor posture and reduced performance during exericse. Increasing your abilities through regular, targeted, physical exercise is the only way to improve.

Thanks

Brodie

Personal Trainer Glasgow & Online

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