Let’s talk a little bit about body issues. Do you recall the days when Special K had a cereal advertisement where they asked the question… “Can you pinch an inch?”
Since then, the U.S.A has had an explosion in the number of people becoming overweight and obese.
We know more and more about what to do to be healthy, and yet so many are not able to do what they know they should be doing in regard to their weight and their health. And that’s exactly why I coach my clients on the mindset and behavior change to help them get out of their own way…but I digress.
Being overweight can cause a myriad of health problems, and even more so now, during the Corona Virus pandemic, studies have found that people who are overweight or obese have worse symptoms and for some, the virus can be fatal.
The most common types of fat found in the body are visceral fat & subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is much deeper and is found around your organs. Visceral fat is very dangerous to your health. You can have visceral fat and not be obese. Subcutaneous fat is the fat found under the skin and is the fat that leads to the dreaded “muffin top” or belly fat.
This is the fat that causes body issues and people have a hard time getting rid of and often complain about.
Having a healthy, low processed food diet and getting in regular exercise is key to reducing subcutaneous body fat. The other major players in getting rid of this type of fat are enzymes and hormones.
Two enzymes that regulate flux in and out of fat cells are Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) and Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL). LPL is responsible for fat storage in the body and HSL is responsible for the fat release. The major hormones involved are insulin, cortisol and the fight or flight hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine.
To break it down to the simplest terms, think of insulin as the starch and sugar hormone and cortisol as the sleep and rest hormone.
The natural inclination when wanting to lose weight is to reduce all the carbs you are taking. Reducing carbs is a better strategy than low fat eating for reducing your belly fat. But low blood sugar stresses the body and raises cortisol levels, so you do not want to eat a diet too low in carbs either.
The best approach is to modify your starchy, processed foods. You should avoid the white refined carbs such as whites breads and rolls, chips, cakes & sugar overall for the most part. Get your fiber from complex carbohydrates (whole grains etc.), pulses (beans etc.) and vegetables.
Complex carbohydrates will provide energy and stabilize blood sugar while at the same time lowering insulin slowly and keeping cortisol stable. To do this, choose carbohydrates with a low glycemic or pair all complex carbs with some protein like pulses/eggs etc. and some healthy fat such as avocado, nuts or seeds.
For example, a great snack would be an apple with 1 tbsp of natural nut butter or a salad with a healthy protein (salmon or beans) and a little fat (avocado). Studies show this also prevents weight regain.
Increasing protein intake will have a favorable impact on your belly fat as well. Increasing protein has also been shown to decrease the potential risk for weight regain.
And not to forget that healthy fat helps to absorb nutrients and supports hormone balance.
So in layman’s terms, protein, fat, vegetables and low carbs food create a hunger suppressing, high volume punch with minimal insulin production. Remember, insulin is a fat storing hormone. It is responsible for shovelling calories into fat tissue.
And when it comes to body issues like belly fat, consuming alcohol also needs to be addressed. Alcohol is calorie dense making it easier to have an excess caloric intake. Avoid this.
If you want to learn how to combine meals and snacks that are low-glycemic carbs paired with protein and healthy fat, you can get 21 Day Transformational Nutrition Cleanse! (Including Meal Plan and Recipe Guide)
If you know it’s time to get out of your own way, feeding yourself well, consistently, is a great place to start.