It is difficult to “spot” reduce any specific area, including the abdomen. Belly fat is a common complaint (particularly among women) and can increase with age due to decreased estrogen levels, which affect body fat distribution. The trouble with belly fat is that it is not limited to subcutaneous fat (an extra layer of padding below the skin). It also includes visceral fat which lies deep inside your abdomen. Visceral fat produces various hormones and substances that can increase blood pressure, negatively impact cholesterol, and create insulin resistance. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. Key factors that need to be addressed include consuming a healthy diet (whole foods including fresh fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and lean protein), regular exercise (ideally a combination of weight training/resistance and aerobic (activities such as brisk walking, jogging, biking, etc.), and a few basic supplements to aid the weight loss process.
If you are eating well, exercising and still having difficulty getting rid of your muffin top, a supplement may be helpful. Keep in mind that different supplements work differently. For example, some are thermogenics (increase metabolism), some can help control blood sugar levels, while others can decrease appetite and/or cravings.
We all know a few fat phobics. Holdovers from a past era of dietary fads. They’re constantly referring to things as “fattening” (a word I’ve come to hate as a nutritionist). Their refrigerators are full of “lite” and “non-fat” versions of name-brand processed foods, things like non-fat salad dressing, which is nothing short of a food science miracle, or fat-free ice cream bars rife with additives you’ve never heard of. All this dietary effort, they’ll say, is to prevent the intake of excess fat, and thus the storage of fat in the body. I only wish things were that simple – eat fat, get fat! That would make my job a lot easier. (Or maybe I wouldn’t have a job.) Truth is, despite their hyper-lean methods, fat phobic eaters are almost always struggling with their body weight in one way or another.
Just the other day, I was in the dairy section at the grocery store trying to buy regular sour cream. Not surprisingly, I found it to be a mental challenge. Low-Fat Sour Cream. Skim Fat Sour Cream. 1% Sour Cream. Full Fat Sour Cream? I finally found one sandwiched in the back shelf. This experience only reconfirmed what I had already known: our society has an obsession with low-fat foods. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to express your aversion to fats. “I don’t eat butter – it’s too much fat.” Or, “I’m trying to keep my cholesterol down, so I avoid eggs.” But how did this begin? Were fatty foods always the villain from the beginning of mankind? If one wants the answer, they have to not only be willing to look back to history, but be daring enough to read between its lines…
Take a look at this video by Village Green blogger, Debi Silber the Mojo Coach. She talks about the differences of fat and muscle and the roles they play in weight loss. As a woman, I love that she encourages being strong instead of just losing weight. Did you know that one pound of fat looked like that? I think I am ready for some weight training!