The Real Reason We Can’t Get Rid Of The Apron Gut
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So you work out 5 times a week, cut your calories, follow your macros, and sacrifice eating the foods you love to get fit, and you still can’t seem to shake the belly fat. This is the story of many men and women who struggle to get a flat, muscular stomach.
Many have even thought of doing it the easy way (plastic surgery, freeze therapy, and diet pills) because they are tired of working at it with no results.
For women, it could also be a matter of where they are in their menstrual cycle.
Today, I will shed some light on what it really takes to get the flat, lean, cut stomach you want.
Being a fitness consultant for close to 20 years, I have met many people who have this struggle. Some are even in great shape but still can’t seem to get rid of the bicycle tire. They put in the workout and go hardcore with their diet and still have excess fat around their midsection.
I’m here to tell you that while exercise and diet do play a role in getting into shape, there are many things that one has to do to achieve the six-pack abs package.
Let’s start with understanding what belly fat actually is.
What Causes the Fat Gut Anyway?
The fat around the midsection, in most cases, is a combination of fat, visceral fat, water retention, and abdominal distention. Fat is the extra layer of padding that you see in the mirror. Visceral fat lies deeper inside the abdomen. It surrounds the inner organs, which automatically increases the circumference of your stomach.
Bloating and water retention result from synthetic sweeteners, processed foods, allergens, lactose, and even wheat and gluten products.
Abdominal distension happens as a symptom of underlying disease or some form of imbalance in the body. It is essentially gas or fluid that causes the belly to expand or pushes the diaphragm down that causes the abdomen to push forward.
More On Visceral Fat
Excess Visceral fat is a real problem as it contributes to heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, certain forms of cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Visceral fat can have an impact on how the hormones function in the body. This can increase insulin resistance. This means that the more you overeat something or consume something that doesn’t work for your body, your body will begin to respond by lowering how much glucose from the blood can be used for energy.
This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin and will eventually cause an imbalance in hormones and the onset of type 2 diabetes.
It poses a threat to the nerves and hormones, which signals the brain to release cortisol from the adrenal glands. In other words, your body is in fight or flight mode internally, which will increase inflammation.
Don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t only apply to those that are overweight. It can happen to anyone, any size, any shape, any background.
While exercise and diet is the best way to diminish visceral fat, we need to understand the foods and corresponding behaviors that cause it.
The less visceral fat you have, the better chance you have at avoiding these ailments. But it all starts with knowing what works for your body.
A Great Start is the Elimination Diet
The elimination diet is an excellent start at determining which foods are causing inflammation in the body. It is the difference between understanding food allergies and food intolerance.
A food allergy is when we eat something that causes our eyes to itch and our throats and faces to swell up.
Food intolerance is less severe. For example, one who is lactose intolerant may bloat after they eat a dairy product or have an onset of constipation or diarrhea.
The elimination diet essentially guides you through a process of removing foods from your diet that could be possible culprits of intolerance.
Then you go through the process of reintroducing the foods one by one and noting what symptoms you have if any.
It is a beautiful process, and I have used it personally and with my clients to help them find which foods could be preventing them from reaching their goals.
Believe it or not, discovering the foods that cause inflammation has been the solution to belly fat for some. This is why it’s definitely worthwhile to give it a try.
I know looking up information on the elimination diet and trying to make sense of it can be challenging.
That is why I have created a simple ebook, Elimination Diet 101: Eat More Food, that walks you through step by step on how to plan and execute it.
It takes the guesswork out of having to figure it out on your own. If you still have questions after reading the book, you can contact me, and I will help you figure it out.
Now let’s get into the things that can help you get rid of the pudge for good.
It goes without saying that exercise is a great way to lose belly fat. Total body conditioning through cardio, weight training, and even yoga will help you burn visceral fat.
The goal is to progress throughout the exercise. For example, if you start off doing 30 minutes of exercise per day, your aim should be to make the exercise more challenging by adding weight or reps.
The goal is to progress and increase your muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the easier it will be to burn visceral fat.
Studies have shown that this even works for postmenopausal women. For example, postmenopausal women lost more visceral fat all over their bodies when they did aerobic training for 300 minutes per week versus those who only exercised 150 minutes per week.
It’s ok to start at 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day. Just enjoy the journey and challenge yourself more as you go.
This is excellent news for women, as weight gain is one of the main symptoms of menopause. For more on menopause symptoms, check out How to Detect Menopause Early Signs Without A Doctor.
There are many types of exercises. All you have to do to be consistent is to find something that you like doing, whether that be playing a sport, lifting weights, or even walking. You can make walking more challenging by adding ankle weights and walking a further distance, for example.
Intermittent fasting is a fantastic way to put the body in ketosis. The longer you fast, you increase the chances of your body depending on fats for fuel.
The good thing about intermittent fasting is that there are many options that can fit almost every lifestyle. Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about any of the side effects that come from other crash diets.
It’s a safe lifestyle habit that will help you lose weight, boost your metabolism, and even increase your quality of life.
Reducing the amount of carbohydrates you consume will not only allow your body to use fat for fuel, but it will reduce the amount of water in the muscles. My recommendation with this is to carb cycle, especially if you are an athlete.
Carb cycling gives you the energy you need to power through your workouts, build muscle and burn fat, as well as the ability to burn extra fat on the days that you don’t.
Eat More Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is a major key to belly fat because it lowers your body’s ability to absorb fat in the first place. It also balances out the gut microbiome by increasing healthy gut bacteria, and it reduces one’s risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.
Some soluble fibers are carrots, flax seeds, apples, guava, oats, and barley. Add one or more of these foods to your diet daily for the best results.
Eat More Protein
Eating an adequate amount of protein daily is essential to burning visceral fat. For one, protein consumption increases the metabolism because the body uses more energy to digest and metabolize it.
Protein is also the building block for muscles. As we discussed earlier, the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn.
Eat Meat….But the Right Kind Of Course
Eating protein doesn’t mean loading up on tons of meat. Some meats can actually increase inflammation in the body.
For example, red meats take longer to digest and tend to contain more saturated fats. Processed meats contain high amounts of nitrates and additives to keep them fresh and give them a better flavor, putting more pressure on the digestion process.
Both types of meat increase one’s chances of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. It is best to limit these meats and focus on lean meats such as fish and poultry. Vegan protein powders are a good alternative as well but should be limited to two per day.
Beans are also a good alternative. However, it’s best to understand if your body can tolerate beans first.
Limit the Alcohol
Many people love alcohol. However, excess alcohol can damage the liver, which interferes with how the body metabolizes and stores fat. Not to mention, the body registers alcohol as a toxin which will increase inflammation and water retention, especially in the gut.
The glass of wine you have with your salad every night is registered as sugar by the brain. Too many carbs will result in weight gain eventually.
The “beer gut” is not a myth. It is a real thing.
Cut the Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks include fruit juice, sodas, and many energy drinks. Some of them can contain more calories than a meal. For example, the Starbucks Frappuccino you love so much is a great treat but shouldn’t be your morning beverage for work.
A grande vanilla Frappuccino is close to 400 calories. Add on the bacon, egg, and cheese combo, and you have just eaten 1000 calories or more for breakfast.
If you aren’t active, this will get stored as fat. That doesn’t include lunch, dinner, or the snacks you may get on your 15-minute break.
The point here is to try not to drink your calories.
Reducing your calorie consumption is a great way to lose body fat and ultimately, belly fat. A rule of thumb is to cut about 500 to 750 calories from your diet. When you eat less energy than you consume, the result will be weight loss and fat burn.
The easiest way to begin with this if you aren’t into counting your macros is to cut your portions. Instead of getting a large, opt for a medium or a small.
Eat out of smaller plates. It will give you the illusion that you are eating more than you actually are. If you do this every meal, you will save a good amount of calories.
If you need help with your macros, feel free to contact me at transitionalfitnesscoach@gmail, and I will help you figure out your macros to get you on the right track with your goals.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is essential to being as lean as you can possibly be. When you don’t sleep enough, your body is always searching for energy.
We often don’t recognize this call for rest and instead give in to the carb craving….. the burger and the fries for lunch, and the pizza for dinner.
Then our already tired bodies work extra hard to digest the food. Overindulging becomes the culprit for body fat and inflammation.
Let’s not forget the stress our bodies endure for operating tired. This results in a weakened immune system and a body that hasn’t had the opportunity to detox, which causes an increase in inflammation as well.
More on how sleep can impact the body here.
Avoid The Urge of Get Rich (Get Rid of the Belly Fat) Quick (pills)
Many diet pills promise weight loss without any changes in diet. Some come as over-the-counter options or even as prescription drugs.
I am not trying to tell you what you should do.
But I will say that just as one can’t out work out a bad diet, they shouldn’t depend on diet pills to achieve the results they want.
There are always risks to taking this route, and one should ensure they know the risk if this is something they are going to do.
It is so essential for us to manage our stress. When we are in a constant state of stress, our bodies are operating from a fight or flight position.
Fight or flight is a tool, not a state of living.
When this happens, the body is constantly releasing cortisol which results in inflammation.
Where does this inflammation sit?
You got it! In the gut!
Hold Yourself Accountable
These are all tips that I have found to help myself and my clients reach their goal of flat stomachs and washboard abs. While these tips can work for you, the most important thing is to be consistent.
Hold yourself accountable to the goals you seek. These tips are not overnight miracles. You will notice results only if you take the time out to understand what works for your body and stick to it.
I know that it’s not always easy. That’s why I’m here to help you if you need guidance and support.
If you need help reaching your fitness goals, I’d be happy to help. Contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know you are ready to start with me, let’s start the process. Take my wellness questionnaire, and I will be getting back to you shortly with the next steps in the process.
Thanks and take care and remember…
Don’t Play With Your Body. You Only Get One.