One of the most common questions I received was “How do I get rid of my belly fat?”. I will explain you the methods behind getting rid of that stubborn belly fat. I am going to try my best to provide you with as much information as possible.
What Makes Up Belly Fat?
Let’s first start by understanding what makes up belly fat. There are 3 layers to recognize:
1. Visceral belly fat which is also known as the deep fat. This lies around the organs under the abdominal muscles and can’t be pinched. The deep fat is rich in Beta-receptors, it has higher blood supply and it is easier to burn.
It is important to know that even if you’re thin you can still have too much visual fat. So to burn visceral belly fat you need to:
- exercise regularly;
- learn stress management;
- reduce carbs to moderation.
2. Superficial subcutaneous belly fat which hangs over your waistline and this can be pinched. This fat layer is rich in Alpha-receptors, it has lower blood supply and it is harder to burn. This is the fat most of us are concerned because we can visually see it hanging over our waistline.
To burn subcutaneous belly fat you need to:
- exercise regularly;
- learn stress management;
- reduce carbs to low levels and choose the right carbs.
3. Deep subcutaneous belly fat which is a hybrid of both layers above.
There are 2 enzymes which are responsible for holding on to fat and also burning it. They are:
- lipoprotein lipase (LPL) which is responsible for fat storage;
- hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) which is involved in fat release (what we want);
What Are The Hormones That Trigger Belly Fat?
So to beat belly fat it’s not just about creating calorie deficit, it is a combination of calorie deficit with hormone balance. The main hormones that impact the LPL activity are your insulin and your cortisol. INSULIN + CORTISOL = BALLY FAT BULLIES!
How does insulin cause us belly fat?
When it comes to the brain, muscles and liver you want the body to be insulin sensitive and not resistance. Being insulin resistance in these areas make a person unable to burn fat and sugar or to fill satisfied after eating. This is why many overweight people who are insulin resistance in these tissues tend to overeat because they are hungry all the time.
How does cortisol cause us belly fats?
Excess cortisol in our body can drive us to eat more of the wrong foods more often which means higher daily calorie intake and fat gain. This also causes smaller, immature fat cells to became larger, mature fat cells which is not a good thing when you are trying to burn belly fat.
In order to burn fat we need to make sure that these hormones are well balanced in our body.
Dieting Doesn’t Help To Beat Belly Fat
Let’s just start by making it clear that diet don’t work. “Dieting” makes belly fat fatter. The common “eat less, exercise more” approach is only a short term success. This approach accomplishes the calorie deficit but makes the hormone balance worse.
Remember: BURN BELLY FAT = CALORIE DEFICIT + BALANCED HORMONES.
Just think at insulin as a starch and sugar hormone and cortisol as a sleep and stress hormone. I am sure you have heard about the low carb and high protein approach to reduce belly fat. This would work. However, a diet too low in carbs (which can cause low blood sugar) stresses the body and raises cortisol levels. But choosing the right carbs (which are lower in glicemic load) can help with belly fat and also to reduce weight gain overall.
So apply this thing on a combination of protein and vegetables as they help to suppress hunger with minimal insulin production. This results in fewer calories consumed and a good hormone balance. Here you can find a comprehensive list of glicemic load in foods.
While dealing with cortisol hormone, sleep and stress management is essential. Aim for a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night and practicing meditation or calming exercises would help as well.
Belly Fat Meal Plans
1. Eat less, exercise less
You have here a 3-2-1 plan:
- 3 meals a day;
- 2 of these meals should be mostly protein and fiber with less starch;
- 1 meal in a day should have heavier starch (post-workout meal).
This 3-2-1 approach works well for those of you who are not heavy exercisers. I would say if you train 3 times or less in a week or you perform gentle light exercises.
2. Eat more, exercise more.
You have here a 3-2-2 plan which is for those of you who exercise regularly:
- 3 meals per day;
- 2 snacks per day;
- double the starch intake one meal per day (post-workout meal).
Both these methods generate low calorie intake and naturally reduce starch intake in a way that provides enough fuel to keep hunger, energy and cravings stable but not enough to slow fat loss.
Learn How To Assess Your Progress
How do you know if you are successful in a plan to reduce belly fat? Well again, you will need to check both calorie deficit and hormone balance.
Assess for hormone balance, on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being high and 1 being low):
- hunger and cravings < 5;
- energy level > 6;
Do these assessments at the end of each week and if your hunger and cravings are lesser than 5 with your energy level more than 6, it means that your hormone balance is good.
Assess for body shape using the waist to hip ratio. So take your waist measurements and divide it with the hip measurement. For women, these ratio should be about 0.7 and for men the optimal number is 0.77. Always keep it below 0.8 for a healthy waistline.
I hope this post has helped you out to understand the causes of belly fat and steps to burn it. Feel free to share it with your friends or comment below.