How To Lose Belly Fat

No amount of daily sit-ups will help you lose belly fat. Some lifestyle, exercise and dietary adjustments are necessary. Incorporate a few changes at a time so you are not overwhelmed. 

Exercise adjustments:

  1. Include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) one to two times a week, for about 20 mins a session. Muscle tissue burns 3-5 times more energy than fat tissue. So as you gain muscle your metabolic rate increases, allowing you to burn more calories even while sleeping. Note: workout for short bursts of maximum intensity (eg. 30 sec) and rest in between these spurts for a similar time.
  2. Include weight (resistance) training. Perform your sets using the correct technique and at a slightly slower pace, squeezing & holding the abdominals taut during each set. Rest in between. Core-strengthening exercises like “planking” engages a wide group of muscles to improve overall strength. Push-ups are a great exercise to perform in sets of 20 throughout the day. We all need a break from sitting!

Dietary recommendations:

  1. Incorporate more protein in your diet if it is currently low, especially if you are doing weights regularly. We need good levels of quality protein to build more muscle.  Also protein has a higher Thermic Effect of Food. Protein burns about 5 times more calories than carbohydrates or fats.  So including extra protein and less carbs, means you will expend more energy & burn more body fat.
  2. Choose more organic, raw wholefoods containing fibre. This is better for the bowels and will help you feel fuller for longer.
  3. Cut out or reduce processed refined foods that deplete the body of energy.
  4. Add small serves of good fats throughout the day, eg. avocado, nuts & seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, green leafy veg, fish, fish oils. Avoid trans fats.
  5. Greatly reduce alcohol or avoid altogether.
  6. Add probiotics daily to make your tummy balanced, healthy and happy.
  7. Add a serve of fermented foods daily: eg. yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, lassi. Anything that makes the tummy balanced and happy will help reduce bloat and fluid retention.
  8. Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar to a 1/2 glass of water once a day to increase your satiety and restore gut health.

Lifestyle suggestions:

  1. Reduce stress: cortisol is a fat-storing hormone that is produced in higher amounts under stress. Incorporate some daily relaxation or meditation (10-15 mins) to improve your sleep and recover your energy.
  2. Get some sunlight exposure each day and feel more grounded. This helps us sleep better at night. Take a walk outside during your lunch break.
  3. At night after dinner, dim the lights and reduce your exposure to blue lights and electronic devices an hour or so before bed. Both of these disrupt your natural melatonin production. This is the hormone that helps us wind down and sleep at night. If you’re wired, you’ll get tired! 

Lost your Drive & Motivation?

You may be dopamine deficient.

Dopamine is one of a 100 neurotransmitters in our brain. It is sometimes called the ‘motivation molecule’. People low in dopamine tend to: feel fatigued, forgetful, unmotivated to finish things and moody; they may crave sugar and have difficulty concentrating.

Boost your dopamine production naturally with foods that contain tyrosine, such as: fish, chicken, almonds, avocado, eggs, beans & bananas.

You can feel better today!

Why Sitting is Bad for You!

Just as exercise can’t counteract the effects of smoking, it can not counteract the effects of sitting for lengthy periods of the day.

Here’s why:

  1. After 1 hour of being seated – electrical activity in our muscles and our ability to burn calories both reduce significantly.
  2. After 3 hours – our arteries reduce in diameter by about half, which decreases blood flow everywhere in our body.
  3. After 6 hours – insulin becomes less effective at clearing blood sugar.
  4. After 2 weeks of sitting about 6 hours per day – LDL’s (bad fats) accumulate in our blood; enzymes that help breakdown fat, take a dive and muscles begin to breakdown.
  5. After 1 year of this continued sedentary lifestyle – there is a marked reduction in bone density and our brain function slows as significantly less blood is being pumped around the body.
  6. After 10 or more years of this – our quality of life becomes severely impacted which may lead to a reduction in lifespan of quite a number of years  … Worth contemplating, while standing of course!

Is Anxiety Getting the Better of You?

Most of us have felt the unsettling symptoms of anxiety at some point.
Here are some daily tips to support better overall wellbeing and to help manage stress and anxiety:
 
1) Connect with friends – keeping in touch with friends maintains our support network.
2) Exercise (ideally outdoors) – our ‘feel-good’ hormones (endorphins) we produce with regular exercise have been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress.
3) Choose healthy foods – choose protein at each meal and avoid refined, sugary products. This helps balance blood sugar levels, reduce mood imbalances and lessen anxiety.
4) Avoid caffeine – stimulants like coffee can exacerbate anxiety.
5) Breathe – this may seem obvious, but if you feel panicky, focus on some slow, purposeful deep breaths, to help to return to a state of calm. Meditation for 10-15 mins a day, can be a valuable way to instill calm. There are many free, very good meditation Apps on your phone.
… Peace and calm can prevail again!

5 Easy Steps to Stop Eating Processed Foods!

Processed foods may be convenient and sometimes cheaper, but don’t underestimate how they can damage our health in the long-run.

Try these 5 easy steps, to wean yourself off refined, processed foods:

  1. Read labels carefully – look for real ingredients; no additives, colours or artificial anything; if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it.
  2. Enjoy genuine flavours – avoid foods with high amounts of added fats, sugar and salt. They can be addictive, especially sugar-based foods.
  3. Relish what is on your plate – cook clean foods (from fresh raw ingredients) and take the time to savour the flavour! Many of us rush through our meals and neither appreciate what we are eating, nor digest it properly.
  4. Allow your palate time to change – when you eat less processed foods, you will gradually lose your taste for very sweet or salty foods.
  5. Treat yourself by not skipping meals – try some tasty home-made snacks (eg. Cashew Nut Protein Balls, Seeded Crackers with Parmesan) and enjoy a nibble on them between your nourishing meals.

4 Foods that Help Reduce Sugar Cravings

Excluding addictions to alcohol and drugs, the next greatest addiction is sugar. Refined sugar is a very powerful stimulant, which is added to almost all the prepared food we eat. It has a drug-like effect on the body, so people can develop a dependency on it. This is why it is so hard for many people to reduce sugar cravings.

If you are a sweet-tooth, here are a few foods that can significantly reduce your cravings:

  1. Fermented vegetables (eg. sauerkraut,kimchee) help to balance the gut flora, as they naturally contain probiotics. Add a scoop to your salad greens to enhance the flavour.
  2. Coconut oil helps you to feel fuller for longer. This type of fat provides the body with energy, the brain with fuel and burns body fat at the same time. 
  3. Sweet potatoes are a great snack food or training food for recovery. Bake in the oven (skin on), top with coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon.
  4. Avocados also keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Add to smoothies for an energy boost or serve fresh as a snack with lemon & pepper.

What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?

A large number of biological changes occur from head to toe, when you exercise. These changes occur in your:

  1. Muscles – which use glucose & ATP (a chemical compound that is in all living tissue), for contraction and movement. By increasing your breathing rate, more oxygen is introduced and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles. Lifting weights causes tiny tears in your muscles, which grow bigger and stronger as they heal.
  2. Lungs – as your muscles call for more oxygen, your breathing rate continues to increase, until you reach your VO2 max, your maximum capacity for oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.
  3. Heart – the fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles when you exercise. This allows you to workout longer and harder. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming.
  4. Brain – increased blood flow benefits your brain, allowing it to function better immediately. You feel more focused after a workout. Regular exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells. In the hippocampus (our memory centre in the brain), these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. Exercise also triggers the release of a number of neurotransmitters in our brain, which are important for mood control.
  5. Joints & bones – weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, as it helps build and strengthen bone density. 

Don’t forget your daily serve of exercise!

Should I Be Taking Probiotics?

The answer lies in paying attention to your body. If you have any of the following 7 signs, I suggest you take a therapeutic probiotic (high strength) to improve the balance of your gut bacteria:

If …

  1. You have taken antibiotics in the last 6-12 months – you may have an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria. 
  2. You can’t seem to lose weight, especially belly fat, no matter what – stubborn belly fat is a hallmark sign of Insulin Resistance.
  3. You have digestive issues – bloating, cramping, excess wind, or occasional constipation or diarrhoea, means there is a good chance you have an imbalance.
  4. Your skin is itchy or broken out – probiotics aid in the normal elimination of toxins via your gut. Since skin is an elimination organ, this may suggest you have a bacterial imbalance in the gut.
  5. You crave sugar, refined or processed foods – emerging evidence suggests that “bad” gut bacteria feed off sugar and unhealthy trans fats. By boosting more good gut bacteria,  the bad will be kept in check.
  6. You feel moody or blue – probiotics can alter brain function. Our greatest concentration of seratonin (our good mood hormone) is found in our intestines, not our brain.
  7. You are feeling tired during the day and are not sleeping soundly at night – Melatonin (our sleep hormone) is found in the gut in abundance, like seratonin. We need a balance of good to bad gut bacteria for ideal health.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Help or Hinder Weight Loss?

Although artificial sweeteners contain zero calories, they do trigger the brain’s pleasure centre. However, the lack of calories that accompany the sweet taste, fail to satisfy and this promotes sugar cravings like no other!

Over a decade ago, studies already revealed that artificial sweeteners may:

  1. stimulate appetite
  2. increase carbohydrate (sugar) cravings
  3. stimulate fat storage and weight gain
  4. boost your inclination to overindulge 

It’s ironic that they were originally introduced to prevent the above. 

Easy Steps to Feel Better Fast

Our brains are our control-centres, for decision-making and mood. Here are some easy steps to jump start your brain in the morning and feel better fast:

  1. Water your brain on rising – your brain is 80% water, so even the slightest dehydration can elevate stress hormones and impair physical power and focus. Your skin is a reflection of brain health. If your skin is dehydrated, so is your brain.
  2. Move your body – start your day with gentle stretching, walking or yoga to improve blood flow to your brain. 
  3. Eat brain food for breakfast – include high quality protein, such as eggs, fish, yoghurt or protein powder; some healthy fat like coconut, seeds & nuts, avocado, nut butters; along with some smart carbs, such as greens, berries and oats.
  4. Snack smart – eating a small am and pm protein-based snack, with some smart carbs (sustaining, low GI), will keep blood sugar evenly balanced, prevent sugar cravings and provide a boost of energy.
  5. Supplement with brain nutrients – fish oil, probiotics, magnesium and vitamin D all support brain health.