Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Causes of Belly Fat
One of the most common concerns that dieters have is, "How do I get rid of my belly?" Both men and women (especially mothers)want to target this area of the body more than any other because it is probably the most difficult to reduce. Excessive belly fat is an indicator of potential health problems like heart disease, high cholesterol, a fatty liver, stroke, and diabetes. Excessive belly fat for a man would be a waistline over 40 inches and for women, a waist over 35 inches. Contrary to popular belief, hundreds of crunches and hours of cardio alone won't burn off the fat--they will tone and sculpt the muscle underneath. (By the way, fat doesn't "melt", so you can't sweat it out.) Keeping a strong powerhouse is important for maintaining good posture, but to shrink that pooch, you must clean up your diet.
I have gathered a few good tips that will help you improve your health while you flatten your midsection. Here goes:
1) Cut white foods out of your diet.
Refined products like white sugar, flour, bread, rice, and potatoes metabolize into sugar once ingested. Your blood sugar levels spike and your pancreas works overtime secreting insulin to control it. If your body doesn't use it for energy, then it is stored as fat--in your belly, hips and thighs. Replace with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
2) Drink more water.
Waste and toxins are filtered from the body through your liver, gall bladder, kidneys, and colon. They all require plenty of water to do their jobs. Old toxins are stored in fat cells. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces everyday.
3) Monitor your salt intake.
Salt has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but it contains very important minerals critical for bodily functions. Some consume too much salt which can cause bloating, but more importantly the type of salt that is present in processed foods is toxic. According to Dr. Mercola, "Your table salt is actually 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% chemicals such as moisture absorbents, and iodine. Dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt...Containing all of the 84 elements found in your body, the benefits of natural Himalayan Crystal Salt include:
1. Regulating the water content throughout your body.
2. Promoting a healthy pH balance in your cells, particularly your brain cells.
3. Promoting blood sugar health and helping to reduce the signs of aging.
4. Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body.
5. Absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract.
6. Supporting respiratory health.
7. Promoting sinus health.
8. Prevention of muscle cramps.
9. Promoting bone strength.
10. Regulating your sleep -- it naturally promotes sleep.
11. Supporting your libido.
12. Promoting vascular health.
13. In conjunction with water it is actually essential for the regulation of your blood pressure." (http://products.mercola.com/himalayan%2Dsalt/) I personally have used this salt for over a year and I have seen great benefits.
4) Get tested for food allergies.
See your doctor and start a food journal. Note when your belly expands and what foods caused it. A simple way to identify food allergies (like to gluten) is to stop eating all processed foods for a month. Then, reintroduce the foods that you suspect one at a time like bread, oats, or soy and record your body's response. If it has an undesired effect, cut it out of you diet--permanently.
5) Monitor your stress levels.
Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol which triggers an accumulation of belly fat. There are many ways to manage stress including proper rest (7-8 hours), prayer, yoga, meditation, journaling, and exercise. Be sure to allow proper recovery time between workouts as this will create additional stress and prove counterproductive. (Remember, walking is the best form of exercise!)
Incorporate these steps into your lifestyle and whittle your middle in no time!
More next time...