Excess belly fat is hard to shift and apart from being an unwanted bulge, it may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer, among other illnesses. Unfortunately, this type of fat is also very stubborn and typical diets and rigorous exercise regimes rarely work.
With the countdown to Christmas now on, we ask the UK's leading nutritionist and author of bestselling Fat Around The Middle Dr Marilyn Glenville to explain why we put on weight around the middle and how to get rid of it.
Dr Marilyn says that an unwanted tummy is mainly caused by stress. Our bodies react to danger - today in the form of missing a train, an appointment, and other daily stresses - stimulating the release of adrenaline and cortisol. The extra energy, or fat and glucose, produced has nowhere to go and must be re-deposited as fat. After a stressful event, cortisol levels in the blood often remain high for a while, effectively increasing your appetite. The body thinks it should refuel after "fighting or fleeing" and we find ourselves reaching for carbohydrates and fats.
So now you know the cause, here are 10 golden rules for losing fat around the middle...
Stop dieting and don't count calories
Otherwise your body will think there's a famine and will raise stress levels, which contribute to fat storage.
Eat every three hours
Try to keep your blood sugar levels and energy levels stable by eating regularly. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid morning and one mid afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. Try not to eat carbohydrates after 6pm. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and sugar cravings. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As the blood sugar steadies, so will the mood swings.
Don't skip breakfast
If you miss breakfast your body immediately registers famine and hangs on tight to your ample stores of fat.
Eliminate or reduce all added sugar and refined carbohydrates
Avoid any foods that make your blood sugar rise quickly, because - as blood sugar drops again - your body releases adrenaline and cortisol to stabilise it once more and you end up caught in a catch 22 situation. Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly.
Add protein to each meal
It slows down the rate that stomach processes food and delays the passage of the carbohydrates with it. As soon as you add a protein (be it animal or vegetable) to a carbohydrate, you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate, that keep your sugar levels at bay.
Eat essential fats
Long term dependency on low fat products might mean that you’re consuming less saturated fat, but also that you deficient in the good fats – essential fatty acids, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. They help to boost your metabolism so don’t forget to include them in your diet.
Don't eat on the run
It gives your body the message that time is scarce, you are under pressure and stressed. Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient. Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly, as possible.
Watch what you drink
Cut out all caffeine and sugary drinks and significantly reduce alcohol intake (cut it out completely for a month if you can). If you can’t live without your latte make sure you don’t drink it on an empty stomach as it gets straight into the bloodstream and triggers cortisol release.Haga clic aquí con el botón secundario del mouse para descargar imágenes. Para ayudarle a proteger su confidencialidad, Outlook ha impedido la descarga automática de esta imagen desde Internet.
Physical activity has never been more important. If you have fat around the middle of your body caused mainly by the activity of your stress hormones, exercise MUST become one of your priorities. By simply making time for exercise in your life, you can control the potentially damaging fight or flight response.
It calms the adrenal glands and helps balance blood sugar by contributing to the production and action of insulin If you are low in magnesium try eating more leafy greens and nuts, or alternatively try NHP’s Nutri Support Lose your belly (naturalhealthpractice.com, £29.77). It contains all the most important nutrients, scientifically proven to help reduce fat from around your waist.