Are there other ways to eliminate belly fat besides counting calories?
Let me just answer that with a profound YES!!
And a profound NO.
Sorry to burst your bubble. But the good news is that being in a calorie deficit is not the only way to help you achieve a lean midsection but it is still important to make sure that we do not take in more than we are burning.
There are so many factors to consider when you are in a battle against the bulge. Belly fat is one of the biggest complaints I get from my clients.
And their approach is often the same.
Eat less…..exercise more….cut the carbs….run more…..take a laxative….try some diuretics….and more!!
Only to see minimal or NO results.
1. Get more sleep!! One particular study followed 68,183 women for 16 years and assessed their sleep habits and its effect on their weight. The result was that women who slept less than 5 hours per night were more likely to gain 30 pounds or more vs. the women who slept 7 or more hours per night. This is especially true for menopausal women as their sleep is disrupted though the night due to hot flashes and hormonal imbalances.
Why is sleep so important?
Affordability: FREE!!! Just get to bed early. Record the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon....and call it a night. Get to bed by 10PM. Your most restorative sleep occurs from 10PM-MIDNIGHT for one of your ways to eliminate belly fat.
2. Balance your hormones!! Declines in the hormones estrogen and progesterone play a big role in how your body stores and releases fat. When estrogen and progesterone levels decline it negatively impacts a woman’s ability to effectively burn fat. If estrogen and progesterone levels are out balance and the ratio between the two is off – the ability to lose fat can be extremely difficult. If testosterone is too high (as it is with women with PCOS ) it can cause an increase in abdominal fat or an “apple shape”. Estrogen also helps the body be more sensitive to insulin and it also has fat loss and muscle building properties which helps in ways to eliminate belly fat.
So what do you do if you think your hormones are the problem? Ask your doctor if they can test your hormone levels to check for any imbalances or get a saliva test done or find a practitioner that can run these tests for you and interpret the findings. I have seen these tests range anywhere from $300 - $800 (for the SAME test…..so be sure to shop around to make sure that you are not being charges a large “interpretation” fee.)
If your doctor cannot perform the test because your insurance doesn’t cover it OR if you do not have insurance….saliva tests are the way to go.
A simple addition of some Pregnenalone, DHEA, bio-identical progesterone and/or estrogen can often resolve many hormone imbalances but be sure to have your levels checked before applying any hormones. Taking the wrong hormone for your profile can further exacerbate the problem if you don’t know where your hormone levels are.
3. Lower your stress level!!! Has this ever happened to you? You’ve been dieting for weeks if not months and struggling to lose a few pounds. Now your vacation cruise is coming up and you are preparing yourself to gain 3-5 pounds on vacation. I mean you can’t lose weight while trying and you think there is no way you will be able to “diet” when you are on your cruise.
But when you come back from your cruise you are shocked to find out that you lose 5 pounds!!!! You are left scratching your head and trying to figure out WHY ON EARTH did you lose weight when you were eating more and moving less?
When stress is at an all time high cortisol levels can easily go out of whack which can cause fat storage instead of fat burning. Trying to eliminate belly fat when you are constantly stressed is like trying to swim upstream with an anchor tied to your waist. Today we are blessed with our lives but for many reasons we live with chronic stress which sends our adrenal system out of balance. Our body then prepares for the worst case scenario and begins to store calories in order to assure that we have enough energy stored. After all….our body is perceiving that we are under attack due to our adrenal imbalance.
This imbalance can cause weight gain around the middle especially because our the fat cells in our bellies have fat cells that have unique stress hormone receptors for cortisol and there are more of these receptors in the belly than any other place in the body. So your belly responds to stress by continuing to create more of these fat cells which increases belly fat!! This is a terrible cycle to be caught up in…….and the answer lies in balancing your adrenal glands.
Our hormones are like a teeter totter….when one is out of whack it causes a cascade effect sending others out of whack. Then……fat loss can STALL.
Affordable help balancing out cortisol levels: take a look at a good adrenal stress supplement such as Rhodiola Rosea for less than $12.00. This can be one of the ways to eliminate belly fat but if nothing else....you will just feel much calmer. AHHHHH!!!
4. Cut the processed carbs and sugar!!! Ok you read about #3 and lowering your stress levels….well this doesn’t mean to get rid of the deadbeat husband or the toxic friends!! (well, that can be part of it…..) but it also means to help your body avoid chronic stressors such as too much sugar and carbs.
This can cause a blood sugar roller coaster which is further stress on your already imbalanced adrenals. So cutting out sugar does more than reduce calories……it will help your body lower its stress response. You have got to look at ALL STRESSORS and their cause – and sugar is a BIG STRESSOR.
How many times have you had a candy bar on an empty stomach only to get a jolt of energy which then leaves you to crash in a few hours. That can be more stressful on your body than the toxic friends!!
Affordability: CHEAP!!!! Stop buying the sweets…..you’ll save a boat load on your grocery bill when you stop buying “food like products”. Use your savings to buy more WHOLE FOOD.
5. Lift weights – not just cardio!! Take a look at your gym the next time you go. Look at all the people on the treadmills and ellipticals. Then take a look at the people in the weight room. Which group looks more “fit”?
Cardio is important……but it is NOT the only way to eliminate belly fat. In fact, if you make cardio your main ways to eliminate belly fat then you may start abusing it and you can get fatter!!!
Lifting weights creates more muscle density which in turn will increase your metabolic rate. Plus…..you will just LOOK BETTER. Carrying around 130lbs. of muscle vs. 130 lbs. of fat looks VERY DIFFERENT.
If you do decide to do cardio, bouts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) kept to a 20 minute maximum is shown to be extremely effective at fat loss. Sometimes I prescribe 2-3 sessions of HIIT per day…..but they are broken up throughout the day – not all at once.
Remember what I said about reducing stress. Long, steady state cardio is a STRESSOR. If you already have multiple stressors going on in your life (imbalanced blood sugars, burnt out adrenals, poor dietary choices, lack of sleep, etc.) adding 2 hours of cardio is only going to make the situation worse – if not now in the very near future!!
Combine HIIT with weight training and enjoyable, stress relieving walking on your days off and you will be in good shape.
Affordability: Can easily be less than $20!! Go on Craig’s List to find some set of weights. If you get your hands on 8lb., 10lb., 12lb., and 15lb. dumbells you will set to go. No need for a gym!!! In fact, I bought my first Olympic Squat rack set, plus cable pulley system with over 200lbs. of plates for less than $300 on Craig's List. Super buy!!!
6. Be certain you are in a calorie deficit!! Calories still count!!! With all this stuff out there about eating clean, using organic, high protein/low carb, etc. – if we take in too many calories we will gain weight. No doubt!!! Although many of us kick and scream about charting calories, weighing food, etc., it’s a good idea to measure and weight foods for a few days to get an idea of how much you are consuming. I know for me personally – I tend to be an over-eater and when I start to chart my foods I am surprised at how much I really do eat!!! No wonder that scale keeps creeping up!!
But it can easily work the other way as well. I have seen many of my clients eat too little then wonder why their fat loss efforts stall out. The formula is MOVE MORE+EAT MORE. NEVER ….EVER….. MOVE MORE+EAT LESS. That’s a recipe for plateaus. The recipe for fat loss is MOVE MORE+ EAT MORE (leaving a calorie deficit of 10%-25%). The greater the deficit…..the longer the plateau.
Affordability: FREE!!! My Fitness Pal is free. And you can’t buy consistency and dedication.
Detoxing has been a big topic lately. The argument right now is “Is detoxing a fad or is it actually NEEDED.” Well, detoxes have been around for CENTURIES and there are detoxes that are fads as well that aim at taking your money more than your belly fat.
So how do you know if YOU need to detox?
Granted, the main argument you are going to hear that is AGAINST detoxes is that the body is equipped to detoxify on its own. Your liver, organs and immune system are meant to handle detoxification on their own. Much of science will point to this fact and say that the body will handle natural detoxification for you. But, we also know that in today’s day and age we are exposed to more chemicals, pesticides and toxins than ever before. Add to that the amount of processed foods we eat which generally outweighs WHOLE FOODS by at least 2 to 1. The result, our systems are over-loaded which compromises our body’s ability to naturally detoxify.
In fact, five years ago the focus of the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo was to debunk the myth of detoxification but now they are focused on who needs it and why detoxing is important.
So basically, if you:
Then detoxing may be for you.
One great free program to help you on your detoxing path is Dr. Oz's Detox Program. It's free and it's effective.
Or try my 21 Day Detox and I'll give you a free tips session and adrenal health assessment for signing up.
If you need further proof that your body needs to detox and if you want to know the direct measure of liver function and oxidative stress contact me for information about the BioHealth 101 Metabolic Assessment Profile. This test is affordable and will assess your body’s ability to detoxify so you can eliminate belly fat.
Affordability: Prices vary from $150+. Watch out for high consulting or interpretation fees on labs. If you find a qualified professional who is using a reputable lab it can be well worth the investment for your health.
By combining all the approaches above you should have plenty of ways to eliminate belly fat if you are focused and diligent. Doing more of the same thing isn’t going to get you results. What causes belly fat may be different for everyone but try using other ways to eliminate belly fat and take into consideration other factors besides eating less and running more. Save yourself some time and sanity by addressing these factors above and with commitment you will have the waistline you have been dreaming of!!