Belly Fat vs Other Types of Fat
First, it’s important to understand that belly fat isn’t the same as the fat around our thighs or behind our arms. The belly fat that is deep within our body is called visceral fat, and it’s dangerous because it’s packed closely to our internal organs, including our heart, kidneys and liver. We all have a little visceral fat, but some of us gain far too much, increasing the risk toward stroke, heart attack, some types of cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to visceral fat, we all have two other types of fat. Subcutaneous fat is found immediately under the skin, commonly located around the hips, thighs, behind the arms and below the belly button. Subcutaneous fat can be stubborn to get rid of, but is not as dangerous as visceral fat. Brown fat is the third type of fat. It helps keep us warm and is found in places you might not expect, like around our neck and various places on or around our spine. The location of brown fat can vary from person to person.
Visceral fat responds very, very well to healthy dietary changes. Fortunately, it is never too late to start eating healthy, and it’s never to late to improve our health, regardless of our age, gender or lifestyle. There is always something we can do. Right now, I want to focus on the foods we eat, largely because nutrition is crucial to making or breaking our health.
It’s Not About Counting Calories
If you have a significant amount of belly fat, don’t panic, and please don’t start some crazy diet of cutting calories, counting calories or restricting yourself too much. I’ve found that my clients have all gained weight after dieting, regardless of how much progress they may have made in their initial endeavor to lose weight. Focus on the quality of food you’re eating – not the quantity.
The tremendous upside is that you can make a lot of improvement just by eating the right foods (see my list of a few foods that you absolutely should eat to lose belly fat). You can make the same type of improvement by avoiding the wrong foods. Rather than single out one food, I’ve grouped them. I hope this list is helpful to you.
If you’re really serious about losing belly fat, order my book, The Belly Burn Plan. It’s really effective and doesn’t require a single day of dieting or calorie counting.
The 5 Foods People with Belly Fat Need to Avoid
1. Coffee: Technically not a food, per se, but still the most consumed stimulant in the world – and potentially responsible for increasing belly fat (no cream, sugar or calories needed). This is a huge area of debate for a lot of people, with many swearing that coffee helps burn fat, but if you have belly fat, coffee is more foe than friend. There is a strong connection between type 2 diabetes and belly fat. Research has shown that caffeine consumption decreases insulin sensitivity by about 15%, and negatively impacts the metabolism sugars among people with diabetes.
Caffeine is also closely linked to increasing cortisol levels (our stress hormone), which, when chronically elevated, can lead to belly fat.If you’re a regular coffee drinker, consider cutting it out of your diet. To avoid splintering caffeine withdrawal headaches, step down with green tea – matcha tea, in particular. Green tea contains nutrient-rich polyphenols, but with much, much less caffeine.
2. Refined Starchy Carbohydrates: While it’s probably a good idea for everyone to avoid too many starchy carbohydrates, refined starchy carbohydrates, especially for people with belly fat, is a fast way to throw off not only the hormones that are responsible for storing belly fat, but your nutrition as well. Most, if not all, refined starchy carbs are void of any real nutrition.
Examples of refined starchy carbohydrates:
– pretzels and chips
– most store-bought breads, bagels, wraps, buns and tortillas
– pasta and pizza dough
– waffles, muffins and pastries
– store-bought baked desserts
3. High Sugar Fruits: Fruit is filled with nutrition that our bodies need, but many fruits simply contain a lot of sugar. If you’re struggling with belly fat, managing cravings or hunger, try to avoid fruits that are high in sugar.
High sugar fruits include:
– most dried fruit
Lower sugar fruits include:
– green apples
4. Low Fat Sweetened Yogurt Products: The allure of some dairy products, especially low fat yogurts and chocolate milk, is non-stop. Products like low fat or no fat drinkable yogurts are health washed with promises of beneficial bacteria that could benefit gut health. But if you look at the nutrition facts, many of these products are loaded with sugar. Some as high as nine teaspoons of sugar per serving. What’s more, many of these food products contain artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, acesulfame-K or aspartame. There is a profound correlation between artificial sweetener and weight gain. Research has even shown that children who consume artificial sweeteners have a greater body mass index (BMI) than children who don’t.
While the upside of including beneficial bacteria in a food is great, it’s all but erased with the added sugars or artificial sweeteners that naturally disrupt our body’s ecosystem. Bad bacteria that can take over our body, affecting our immune health and the ability to lose weight, feeds on sugar.
Plain yogurt, even full fat, contains some amount of unrefined sugar from the naturally-occurring lactose, but it’s far less and a much better option for someone looking to control their weight, especially through the midsection. What’s more, full fat yogurt works better at stabilizing blood sugar levels and controlling hunger. You can learn how to make your own yogurt here, or simply buy a container of full fat plain yogurt and add your own toppings, including walnuts, cinnamon, fresh or frozen berries, or even a very small amount of honey.
5. Processed Vegetable Oils: Certainly something we should all avoid, refined vegetable oils, like soybean, corn and canola oils are found in most processed foods. Just because the word “vegetable” is name of this type of oil, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s actually good for you. Quite the opposite.When we consume too much processed vegetable oil, we increase the amount of omega-6 fatty acids as well. Overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation in the body. If you have inflammation, it is difficult, often impossible, to lose weight.
Processed vegetable oils are cheap. And because the United States has no shortage of the crops needed to produce these oils, they’re everywhere. Not just chips and cookies, but bread, protein bars and hummus, too. It’s important to read labels to see what’s in the food you’re eating.
Again, the big offenders are corn, canola and soybean oil. Healthier alternative oils and fats include:
– olive oil
– coconut oil
– nuts & seeds
– grass fed butter
– some nut butter (read labels and many contain other unhealthy ingredients)
Here are a few simple and healthy recipes you can make now that are great for the apple shape.
- Paleo Banana Bread
- No Bake Chocolate Cashew Coconut Bars
- Cashew Chicken Stir Fry
- Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes
- Balsamic & Honey Chicken Kebabs