The weather is heating up and with that, many are looking for quick fixes to flatten their bellies before hitting the beach. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news you can make your flat belly dream a reality in time for summer. The bad news- I’m talking about summer 2019. Fat loss is a slow process and requires constant calorie restriction, which can only be maintained by stabilizing blood sugar levels so you’re never hungry or fatigued. What that translates to in pound loss is approximately 1 pound of fat per month.
But before you stop reading, I’m also talking about every summer in the future. So if you start following these tips now you’ll never have to search for flat belly quick-fixes again.
WHAT CAUSES EXCESS BELLY FAT?
It is partially genetic, but primarily driven by increased insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance is a consequence of inflammation that disrupts the signaling between the insulin receptor and the interior of the cells.
This results in visceral (belly fat) that is stored in all the wrong places and causes significant inflammation. Visceral fat accumulates with decreasing estrogen levels. As estrogen levels decrease, insulin levels increase and drives dietary fat into storage in the fat cells and prevents its release for energy production.
What actually works to get rid of belly fat?
To reduce visceral fat you have to reduce insulin resistance caused by inflammation. It is insulin resistance that causes cells to accumulate excess fat. Only by reducing it can the stored fat leave the tissue to be burned as fuel for energy. In order to use stored fat for energy, you have to reduce your calorie intake to reduce diet-induced inflammation.
The best diet to achieve this goal is the Zone Diet as it is equivalent in calorie restriction and nutrient balance. Once you decrease insulin resistance, the hormone sensitive lipase that controls the release of stored fat becomes more active. This requires a balance of protein, low glycemic carbs, and monounsaturated at every meal and never eating more than 400 calories per meal. This can be done by eating about 25 grams of protein at each meal and consuming large amounts of non-starchy vegetables (3-4 servings) at each meal as well as keeping your fat consumption to about 12 grams of fat at each meal.
Removing too much carbohydrate from the diet (like a ketogenic diet) will increase cortisol levels that with time will cause the regain of visceral fat since cortisol increases insulin resistance. This is especially a problem with women who usually do very poorly on ketogenic diets like the Atkins diet.
Stocking your kitchen for a flatter tummy
There is no magical food, just an appropriate balance of protein, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and monounsaturated fat. If you balance your plate correctly at each meal then you will eliminate hunger and fatigue for the next five hours.
So stock your kitchen for success with quick meals and snacks that include low-fat protein (some pre-cooked chicken is useful), vegetables and berries, and nuts. While there are no magic bullet foods to shrink belly fat, there are foods to definitely omit from your kitchen:
1. WHITE BREAD, WHITE PASTA, WHITE RICE, AND WHITE POTATOES. This will reduce excess insulin secretion. It is excess insulin that makes you fat and keeps you fat.
2. VEGETABLE OILS RICH IN OMEGA-6 FATS. This will increase inflammation. It is inflammation that creates insulin resistance that results in elevated insulin levels.
3. STARCHY NON-COLORFUL VEGETABLES OR HIGH GLYCEMIC FRUITS. Not only will this keep you hungry between meals but may actually encourage you to eat more servings. Reduce that insulin resistance to reduce your belly fat and enjoy your summers to come.
Eggplant Salad Recipe
This is a super easy and quick eggplant recipe that is great for getting in your daily vegetables in a tasty way; perfect for a hot summer night!
Eggplant Salad : Instructions
- Pierce eggplant with fork.
- Place on grill pan (medium high) or on an outside grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes turning frequently. Eggplant will become soft and “deflated.” Set aside to cool.
- Cut eggplant in half and with a spoon and remove most of the seeds. Coarsely chop the eggplant.
- In a food processor add chopped eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Pulse a few times to evenly mix all ingredients, giving the salad a coarse texture. If you prefer it smooth and creamy, blend for 45 to 60 seconds.
- Plate salad and top with feta cheese.