On the heels of summer, many of you are returning back to reality from those all-you-can-eat indulgent cruises, road trips fueled with fast food and endless BBQs with a firm resolve to banish that unsightly belly fat. And according to a new study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, you may want to really follow through on this resolve. It turns out that even people of normal weight, but with a higher waist-to-hip ratio (with fat concentrated in their bellies) have a higher death risk than those who are obese. Yikes! “We knew from previous research that central obesity is bad, but what is new in this research is that the distribution of the fat is very important even in people with a normal weight,” says Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic.
Focus on your waist, not weight
We all have visceral fat and it isn't all bad. It provides necessary cushioning around organs. The problem begins when there's too much of it. That's linked to a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers (including breast cancer and colon cancer.) What's too much? Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist, and check your girth. Do it while you're standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level. Aim for less than 35 inches if you're a woman and less than 40 inches if you're a man.
Retaining fat around your stomach is often a sign of toxic buildup in your system. When your body is toxic from chemicals in the foods you eat and your environment, it seeks to protect you as best it can. One of the ways this happens is that your body retains fat in order to store the toxins so they are insulated from your organs. Detoxifying, then, is a great step towards losing weight in your abdominal area. Let’s look at some simple steps you can take to detoxify your system, speed up your metabolism and get rid of belly fat:
1. Get hydrated! Start each day with 12-16 ounces of warm water with a splash of organic lemon.
2. Skip the sugar – in all of its forms. Especially liquid calories from any source (soda, juice, alcohol) all of which store belly fat. Be on a mission to get high fructose corn syrup out of your diet as it is especially good at laying down belly fat.
3. Ditch the flour – wheat flour, especially, is just like sugar. Did you know that two slices of whole wheat bread raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar?
4. Start the day with protein, not starch or sugar. Try whole omega-3 eggs, a protein shake, nut butters or even kippers! Skip the bagels, muffins, donuts and cereal.
Along with these simple rules, you can also work on blasting belly fat by adding in these healthy foods that will contribute to a svelte stomach:
5. Say yes to glorious greens. Fresh greens will fill you up, crowd out the "bad" stuff and provide your body the enzymes it needs for optimal digestion. Greens are loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. Be adventurous and go beyond the tried and tested lettuce and spinach. Try kale, arugula, cabbage, endive, mustard greens, swiss chard, parsley, and other nutritious, organic greens for a delicious way to rid yourself of fat. The easiest way to add in greens to your daily diet is to blend up a delicious greens smoothie by throwing in a handful of your favorite greens with nut milk and some frozen berries. The beauty of a blended concoction is that it allows your body to minimize the energy necessary for digestion and focus on burning fat.
6. Chia your way to a smaller waistline. These nutritious little seeds are great for fat loss, because they help stabilize blood sugar and improve your insulin sensitivity. Insulin is one of your body’s main fat storage hormones, and improving insulin sensitivity can reduce the amount of insulin circulating in your bloodstream, which can lead to fat loss. Chia is also rich in Omega-3 fats, and the seeds are filling because they contain loads of fiber. Try a few tablespoons of chia in unsweetened almond milk with some vanilla and stevia for a delicious and filling protein shake.
7. Crank up your engine with cayenne. The great thing about cayenne is that it is so easy to incorporate into meals. Spice up a salad, some quinoa pasta, or soup with a pinch of cayenne, and you’ll increase your body’s thermogenesis. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which has been shown in studies to enhance burning of belly fat.
8. Ogle those oats. Oat groats are oats in their most basic form – a true whole grain. Research has shown that eating whole grains can help increase weight loss. Oat groats are also gluten-free and well tolerated, meaning they are less likely to cause belly bloat. Soak them overnight, rinse, and blend with water, stevia, and a little cinnamon for some healthy oatmeal.
9. Fraternize with fermented foods. The key to weight gain and loss is found in the gut. Research suggests that gut bacteria are more accurate markers for obesity than anything else found in your genetic pool. So, instead of counting calories to lose weight, eat fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, kefir with each meal (or pop a probiotic pill) to transform your inner ecology, maintain a healthy weight and flaunt a trimmer waistline. Fermented foods are stronger than a probiotic supplement, but if you don't like fermented foods, taking a probiotic supplement may be an easier way to go.
Rupina Meer is a Board-Certified Health Coach who received her training from the acclaimed Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). Rupina's mission is to help her clients get radically honest with the relationship between what they eat and how they feel so that they can look and feel great from the inside out without diets, deprivation or dogma. Visit http://zen-trition.com/ to get instant access to a free eReport and discover the Top 5 Health Myths That Are Keeping You Fat, Fatigued & in a Funk.
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