–With The Right Kind of Meals
By Melina B. Jampolis, MD, board-certified physician nutrition specialist
Belly fat, aka visceral fat that is deep in the belly, is very different than the type you pinch under the skin – it is much more metabolically and chemically active, strongly associated with how well you respond to insulin and dietary carbohydrates, and also very closely linked with inflammation, with which it is both cause AND effect – it causes inflammation and is caused by inflammation in the body. Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body does not respond appropriately to insulin, the hormone that controls the amount of glucose, (sugar) in your blood, and excess insulin in your body leads to weight gain – especially belly fat plus it makes it much harder to lose weight!
Each decade we age, we lose muscle, experience hormonal changes, and often have added stressors in our life – all of which are major factors that can adversely affect our response to insulin. There are hundreds of studies that confirm that excess visceral fat is an independent marker for various diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, aging, brain disease, depression, Alzheimer’s, and even death.
Here are some simple diet and exercise tips to easily help battle belly fat:
Pump up the protein.
Eating adequate amounts of high-quality protein (chicken, fish, yogurt, eggs, whey or pea protein, soy) spread out over the day, and strength train at least twice per week, working all major muscles groups is key. This will ensure that you maintain, or build muscle, which is critical to a proper response to insulin.
Manage your hormones.
Hormonal changes: Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can all cause insulin resistance, even if your calorie consumption hasn’t changed. Get regular exercise (both cardio and strength training), manage your stress, whether hormonal, physical, mental, emotional and don’t forget the importance of good sleep, as all of these factors can cause insulin resistance. Try anything that works for you, meditation, yoga, or supplements like ashwagandha; maintain strong social ties can also help during stressful times; improve your sleep quality – sleep in a dark, cool room and cut out electronics at least two hours before bedtime; melatonin and valerian supplements can also help.
Optimize your diet.
Improving your diet is critical in improving insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, and getting rid of belly fat:
- Increase fiber intake -whole grains, legumes, fruit & vegetables
- Decrease sugar and white carbs – white bread, white potatoes, white rice, generic baked goods, and processed sugary foods
- Cut back on highly processed foods – sugary drinks, fast food, frozen entrees and treats, muffins and cakes
- Add more healthy fats – nuts, avocado, olive oil, seeds
- Consume less saturated fat, especially from red and processed red meat sausages & deli meats
In addition, adding lots of herbs and spices can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve your response to insulin.
- Cumin, &
- tarragon are especially effective.
Four studies of people with type 2 diabetes have confirmed ginger as a potent insulin-resistance warrior; cumin improves cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar, helps you lose weight (especially belly fat), and, importantly, it decreases insulin resistance; tarragon not only fights inflammation, but research also shows that it might help prevent diabetes in those at high risk. One group of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes took tarragon supplements for three months, and by the end of the study, they showed better long-term control over their blood sugar and better sensitivity to insulin.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.