Naturopath, Sara Jubb, came to our Yours Live event in April to chat to us about the topic of belly fat. Here's what she had to say...
"Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of visceral belly fat increases your risk of health complications," says Sara. "In fact, being normal weight with excess visceral fat is more risky than simply being obese. However, some belly fat is ok. As we age and especially in post-menopausal women, an increase in waist size is perfectly normal as we need more fat cells to produce some of the oestrogen that we no longer make in our ovaries. But… some belly fat is healthier than others."
With that said, here are Sara's top tips on how to budge that bad belly fat and reclaim your waist:
Cut down on sugar
Sugar, sweeteners and refined foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels followed by a dip in energy. They require insulin to carry sugar into cells which is then stored as fat, especially around the middle. Refined foods (white flour, white rice, white pasta, etc) are devoid of essential nutrients and fibre. Try to cut down on any packaged foods or choose the ones with the fewest ingredients and look out for hidden sugars with names ending in ‘–ose’.
Eat real food
- Eat foods that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
- Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food
- Avoid foods that have any form of sugar or sweetener as one of their top 3 ingredients
- Avoid foods that contain more than 5 ingredients
- Avoid foods advertised on TV
- Eat only foods that will eventually rot
- Make your own treats and ready-meals
Eat protein with every meal
Protein slows the release of energy into the bloodstream, makes you feel full for longer and helps to maintain energy levels. It is also essential for liver detoxification, helps to balance hormones and to build muscle mass which is protective against osteoporosis. Good sources of protein are: line-caught fish, organic eggs and poultry, grass-fed meat, pulses, legumes, quinoa and other wholegrains, raw nuts, nut butters and seeds.
Increase good fats
Cutting fat out of your diet might save you calories but it won’t help you lose weight long term. Fat makes food taste better so makes us feel satiated. It also supports the liver, helps to regulate hormones, keeps the skin youthful-looking and even helps us to burn fat, so help to keep us at optimum body weight. Good fats are essential for memory and nerve function. Good sources of fat are: oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies); nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil and coconut milk and olive oil. Avoid trans-fats found in margarines and almost all processed foods.
Eat bright coloured veg & fruit
To reduce inflammation and give you the widest range of health-promoting anti-oxidants - Aim to eat at least 5 different colours every day:
- Red foods such as tomatoes, radishes, red peppers, strawberries and cherries are especially good for bones, teeth, skin and adrenal glands.
- Orange foods such as oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins which have anti-ageing properties
- Yellow foods such as bananas, lemons, melons, butternut squashes help to support metabolism and increase energy.
- Green foods such as broccoli, spinach, avocado, kale, support heart health and improve our mood.
- Purple foods such as beetroots, red cabbage, red onions and especially berries support memory and brain health
- Increasing vegetables will also increase your dietary fibre which can help to reduce waist size
Balance your hormones
Eat foods that your liver loves to remove excess hormones from your body. These include all proteins. the cabbage family - cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, turnip – and all other fruits and vegetables, especially beetroot, garlic, onions and lemon. You also need to increase soluble dietary fibre which binds to toxins to eliminate them from the body. Foods high in soluble fibre include apples, pears, sweet potatoes, beetroot, oats, flaxseeds.
Move your body everyday
Aim for at least a brisk 45 minute walk every day plus some strength training a couple of times a week. Movement helps to utilize energy efficiently, improves insulin control, increases blood flow to extremities and brain and helps you to manage stress as it produces a prolonged relaxation response. But you don’t need to go to the gym – just get moving – gardening, housework, dancing all count. Remember what you used to love doing when you were nine and do that!
Reduce your sress
Stress has a huge impact on your belly fat as it promotes cortisol which releases stored sugar from the liver, which can end up being stored as belly fat. If you think about it, in ancient time, the only prolongs stress we would have endured would have been starvation so we are designed to hang onto stored energy. Here are my top stress-busting tips:
- Treat yourself, your environment, other people and animals with respect. Kindness to others is one of the best antidotes to stress.
- Give yourself time every day to process your emotional response to the day’s events.
- Don’t allow food or stimulants to compensate for unfulfilled emotional needs.
- Find something every day to make you laugh out loud.
- Make a list every day of everything you have to be grateful for.
- Keep regular sleeping patterns, ideally getting to bed by 10pm and having 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
- Build relaxation into your day. Reading, bathing, massage and listening to music are relaxing, watching television isn’t.