We all know it takes exercise and a healthy diet to lose weight, but there is more to the story, especially when it comes to belly fat.
If you have been exercising and eating a healthy diet based on nutrient-dense whole foods and still struggling to lose that last bit of fat that seems to accumulate around the midsection, here are some tips that may just help you reach your goal:
1) Balance Cortisol
Cortisol is the stress hormone and chronic high levels are linked to belly fat. If you seem to be only holding onto weight on your stomach, and have a lot of stress in your life, addressing cortisol could be the key to achieving a flatter stomach.
For more details about cortisol this article is very informative.
2) Balance Insulin
Drastic spikes in blood sugar result in insulin imbalances, which can also cause cortisol imbalances.
We are often told cardio is the best way to decrease fat, however, if you have chronic high levels of cortisol then cardio is the last thing you should be doing. Instead it is better to focus on weight-training, strengthening the core, and yoga or pilates. If there is excess weight on other parts of the body as well as the midsection, and cortisol is not as issue, then cardio can be a part of your regular exercise routine.
4) Obesogens and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
These are chemicals found in personal care products, household cleaning products, pesticides, plastics, and canned food. They disrupt the balance of hormones and make the body hold onto fat cells. They can also increase the size and number of fat cells since they are toxins, the more toxins in our environments the more fat cells we need to store them in.
Alcohol is not only a source of empty calories, it also disrupts hormone levels.
Is it fat or just bloating?
Decrease the chances of bloating by following proper food combining and increasing digestive function. My recent post on Hypochlorhydria has some tips for improving digestion.
A friend recently suggested the low FODMAP diet to help with my digestive issues. I am wondering what FODMAPs are and how to avoid them?
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.
For some people, eating foods that contain FODMAPs can cause a lot of digestive issues because they lack the enzymes to properly digest them. Not fully digesting FODMAPs results in their fermentation - causing gas, discomfort, diarrhea, constipation and other symptoms of digestive distress.
Sources of FODMAPs include a variety of common digestive culprits like lactose and gluten, as well as unsuspecting foods like garlic, onions, apples, cauliflower, and cashews.
Following a low FODMAP diet can seem a little bit intimidating at first, it is helpful to work with a nutritionist.
It is recommended that the diet be followed for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks, high FODMAP foods can be added back into the diet one at a time, in order to identify your individual triggers.
If you have been strictly following the diet for at least 6 weeks and not noticing any improvements it could be that you are sensitive to some of the low FODMAP grains, trace amounts of lactose, or sugar. Avoiding corn, oats, rice, all dairy, and limited sugar may help increase the efficacy of the diet.
Other great resources include Kate Scarlata's blog and Monash University.
I came across this film recently when I was doing research for my course at Langara College on Food, Health, and Sustainability.
Although the UN's report on this topic was released in 2006, this important information has yet to become common knowledge.
We all know how eating local and organic is beneficial for the environment, however, it is less obvious how raising animals for food is depleting the Earth's resources.
"COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret" promises to be both shocking and humorous and as eye-opening as Blackfish: "a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today, and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it."
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.