By Nicole Handler, @fitfulfocus
The belly is one of the trickiest spots for most women. Sometimes it seems no matter how many crunches we do or diets we stick to, our bellies don't want to let go of those few unwanted pounds of fat. Whether you've been struggling for a while or are making your first attempt at trimming down, we're here with all the tips and tricks you need to blast that belly fat for good!
Drink tequila (yes, really)
[post_ads]In fact, consuming agavins can help lower blood sugar levels while also producing a hormone called GLP-1, which helps you feel fuller longer. Don't get us wrong; we're not saying go out and drink all the tequila to be thin. However, if you're watching your waistline and want to enjoy a cocktail, tequila is a better choice than most.
Drink more water while you're at it
If only this list was made up entirely of booze. Alas, good old H2O will have to do. There are about eight million reasons water can help you shore up your core, but the main benefit is that it just fills you up. Doctor and best-selling author of Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!, Lori Shemek suggests drinking two glasses of water before each meal. "Drinking water before eating hydrates the body and helps send the mental receptors from the tummy to the brain that you are satiated. Dehydration can cause food cravings, so drinking water before your meal helps regulate those cravings."
Certified transformational nutrition coach, Melissa Mendez, also suggests drinking more water to banish belly bloat. "As much as we don't want to think about it, belly fat can appear larger then it actually is due to a build up in our colon… Simply by upping your water intake, you can encourage a more regular colon, which will diminish belly bloat (which is often what makes our mid section look larger than it really is)."
Go to bed earlier
Diet and exercise can do wonders, but without adequate sleep, you may be stressing out your body, creating more cortisol (the stress hormone). "Stress will pack on fat, especially around the belly," says Dr. Scott Schreiber, board certified in clinical nutrition and certified nutrition specialist. "When [your adrenal glands] are not functioning optimally, fat will accumulate." That's why it's amazing that one of the best ways to trim your tummy is simply by getting some quality zzz's.
Certified and conditioning specialist and Exercise.com head trainer, Tyler Spraul, explains, "Sometimes the biggest reason holding you back from losing fat is your body's inability to fully recover from all the stress (including good stress like workouts) in your life! Sleep time is when your body finally is able to recover and rebuild after being broken down all day. Your body can only handle a certain threshold of stress of any kind, whether it's coming from your job, children, a hectic schedule, relationship problems, etc. If you are not consistently getting the bare minimum of 6 hours of sleep each night, focusing on sleep could be the key to pushing through a fat loss plateau."
Yogurt for the win
There are two things you need to know to understand why yogurt is a key part of the war against belly fat. First, research has demonstrated that increasing your calcium intake can help you burn more fat. Second, consuming foods with probiotics (yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha) can help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria.
"When you have a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, you'll notice a significant decrease in belly bloat, which is often mistaken for belly fat," says Mendez. An added bonus? Yogurt also contains protein, which helps keep you fuller longer.
Eat more (good) fat
We know it sounds counterintuitive, but certain types of fat can actually help you burn off that stubborn belly fat. The key is to opt for monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, all natural peanut butter, and olives. According to a study conducted by the American Diabetes Association, body fat accumulation was less in mice fed a diet rich in monounsaturated fats compared to those fed a diet high in saturated fats. "As both groups of mice were offered diets with the same energy intake, the difference in body fat accumulation between the two diet groups was ascribed to the value of fat quality."
[post_ads]The American Journal Of Clinical Nutritional also produced a study proving that substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditures, all of which is good news for your waist line. On top of that, monounsaturated fats will keep you fuller longer. Keep in mind that calories from foods rich in these healthy fats can stack up quickly (9 calories per gram of fat), so the key, just like with tequila, is moderation.
Go for the guac
Avocados are another great fat-busting monounsaturated fat, but they warrant their own special call out for a few reasons. "Avocados contain a rare form of sugar called 'Mannaheptulose' that helps to lower excess insulin levels that can prevent you from storing fat," says Dr. Shemek. On top of that, she adds, "their high amount of micronutrients and healthy fat prevent cravings for hours." Another reason to eat more avocados? They're delicious! Guacamole also pairs perfectly with tequila. Just saying.
Combine cardio and strength training
Crunches are cool and all, but targeting specific areas doesn't always work. The key is to do more total-body exercises, especially ones that include a mix of cardio and strength training. "While everyone wants a magic bullet, the sad truth that fitness experts know is that one can't spot reduce," says trainer and Powerlifting Champion, Robert Herbst. "The only way to lose belly fat is to reduce overall body fat. The best way to do that is through a sensible, moderate calorie diet and high intensity exercise which revs the metabolism and weight training which builds muscle (which also burns calories)."
Mendez adds, "When you incorporate regular exercise, all systems in your body start running properly, which means you'll be burning fat while strengthening your muscles – all which lead to a leaner, stronger body. That belly fat will be a thing of the past if you just get movin'!"
Amp up the magnesium
Magnesium can be magical in terms of busting belly fat. According to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, medical advisory board member at Nutritional Magnesium Association, "Magnesium and the B-complex vitamins are energy nutrients. They activate enzymes that control digestion, absorption, and the utilization of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Lack of these necessary energy nutrients causes improper utilization of food, leading to such far-ranging symptoms as hypoglycemia, anxiety, and obesity."
She goes on to explain that sometimes food cravings are actually cravings for nutrients. To avoid over eating, opt for magnesium-rich foods, such as pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, and avocado (another reason it's so great!). Furthermore, magnesium can also assist in restful sleep, which is another great belly-fat buster.
Cut the carbs
Not all carbs are bad for you, but consumption of processed carbs should be kept to a minimum. "They are not only fattening, but also addictive and energy-sapping," says Julia Buckley, fitness trainer and author of The Fat Burn Revolution.
Gisela Bouvier of B Nutrition and Wellness recommends, "Exchanging the carbohydrates from sugar and sweets for whole grains and fruit will significantly help blast belly fat."
For all the pasta lovers out there, Darin Hulslander, CEO of DNS Performance and Nutrition, suggests opting for spaghetti squash. "Squash contains pectin, which regulates insulin and promotes a healthy blood sugar level (and thus, appetite level) throughout the day."
Manage your mind
Negativity and stress definitely play a role in unwanted belly fat. Jacqueline Kelly, sports psychology consultant, personal trainer, and author of It's All in the Mind: Think Differently, Get Fit, Change Your Life, explains, "Negative thoughts about your body and belly set up a negative feedback loop. You feel bad about yourself, and then you need to comfort yourself, usually with sugar and food. Stop the cycle by mentally focusing on positive aspects of your body and your behavior. Make small, manageable behavior changes to spark a positive feedback cycle."
[post_ads]Holistic health coach, Andrea Beaman suggests relaxing your body and mind. "This could be as simple as sitting down and taking ten deep breaths before eating, or taking up a daily practice of meditation."
You can do this!
Belly fat is a tricky beast, but it can be beat! By making a few changes to our diet, getting in some total body exercise and de-stressing as much as possible, we'll be able to say farewell to that fat for once and for all!