Monday, 22 August 2011

Lose Your Love Handles Part Two: Nutritional Steps to Fight the Belly Bulge

Many people are unaware that insulin is the hormone of aging, and too much of it can cause a lot of problems in your body, starting with increased fat storage around your waist and progressing to accelerated aging of your body's cells and even diabetes. The good news is that you have complete control over this hormone based on what food you decide to eat each day. You want to strive to be insulin sensitive, so that your body can effectively utilize this storage hormone for it's intended purpose of driving blood sugar into the appropriate cells. One thing you may not know is that insulin sensitivity increases with the simultaneous lowering of body fat. That means that for each percentage point your body fat decreases, your body can utilize insulin more and more effectively. Generally speaking, if you are over 10% body fat for a male or over 16% body fat for a female, you are somewhat insulin resistant and need to work on controlling this ever-important hormone. Here are a few steps to help you manage your insulin, melt your love handles, and become more insulin sensitive:

   1. Eliminate Simple Carbs - This first step is the most essential of all in controlling insulin. Simple carbs, such as sugar causes a tremendous release of insulin, and if you're already a bit overweight, you can be certain that insulin will drive the sugar straight into your fat cells. The best way to avoid spikes in blood sugar is to avoid fast-acting carbohydrates altogether. You'll notice that you'll be less likely to have energy highs and lows during the day, you'll feel more alert, and have greater drive to tackle everything that life throws at you.

   2. Cut Out Artificial Sweeteners - The first thing that people will tend to do when reducing sugars is to reach for the "sugar-free" or "diet" versions of the food they've reluctantly given up. Since it's sugar free and has no calories, it must be okay for those looking to lose weight, right? Wrong. Aside from the toxin damage that artificial sweeteners can have on your body, those calorie free goodies still stimulate insulin to the same degree as their full-sugar counterparts. This scenario where there is no sugar in the food, but insulin secretion is high leads to even further insulin resistance and does nothing to help the problem. If you truly want to lean up your midsection, artificial sweeteners need to disappear from your diet as well.

   3. Boost Fiber Intake - Fiber is essential for digestive function, but it is also a heavy-hitter when it comes to decreasing insulin output. I highly recommend supplementing your diet with different fibers (as long as they are from gluten-free sources) as well as increasing fiber through eating more veggies. One word of caution, however, is to increase fiber SLOWLY, otherwise you'll be making some hurried trips to the restroom. I would aim to increase by 5 grams per week until you've reached your fiber goal. For most individuals 30 grams per day of supplemental fiber on top of veggies at most meals should do the trick.

   4. Eat Healthy Fats - Another major player when it comes to decreasing insulin response is healthy fat intake. Somewhere in the 1980s and 1990s, people became afraid of fat, leading to the "diet" and "fat-free" versions of everything we see today. Unfortunately, these attempts at reducing dietary fat have actually caused us to become an insulin resistant society. You see, adequate fat intake slows insulin output and does very little to contributing to body fat gain. Many people think that the fat you eat ends up directly on your hips and thighs, but that simply isn't true. Besides assisting with many important bodily functions, dietary fat intake is essential for healthy insulin response. Just make sure the fat is from healthy, unprocessed sources. The trans fats and hydrogenated fats that are usually found in processed snack foods are a big no-no, but any naturally occurring fat (animal fats, olive oil, cashews, avocados, fish oil, whole eggs etc) is quite healthy and essential for many of your body's systems to run effectively.

   5. Eat 90% of Your Daily Carbohydrate Intake Within 1 Hour of Weight Training - Without a doubt, for most people that have a fair amount of fat to lose, completely restricting carbohydrates is the way to go. If, however, you are not in a huge rush in your fat loss quest, or you simply can't bear the thought of life without carbohydrates, then you need to eat most of them immediately after a weight training workout. Resistance training actually makes your body very insulin sensitive for a short window of time. If you must have your carbohydrates, eat them within an hour of your weight training workout and you can be rest assured that a much higher percentage of your carbohydrate intake will be to refuel your muscles, and not to add to your midsection.

I hope these 5 tips gave you some good ideas on how to get rid of your love handles. Next week we'll look at supplement strategies you can use to help manage your insulin and continue to break fat loss plateaus.

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