Pinpoint blank, belly flab makes anyone uncomfortable either physically or emotionally. It is common and can be purposeful, especially in protection of our important organs or if in famine mode. However, it stops serving a purpose when in excess and becomes a disadvantage. You see, fat is not just a static glob of fat cells, fat is a savvy survivor, it produces chemicals that contribute to silent inflammation. Inflammation that can contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease, elevated cholesterol, elevated blood sugars and so forth.
Insulin (our sugar hormone) is the only hormone that instructs our body to store excess "fuel" (ie. sugar) as fat. And, to make matters worse, a higher amount of insulin (due to a higher amount of sugar circulating) influences fat to be deposited at the hips/belly and shoulder blade area.
The take-away is that the insulin hormone will store excess sugar as fat. The issue is the excess or too frequent blood sugar spikes that signal the insulin hormone to be released from the pancreas and do it's task. The goal is to eat and move right to create stable blood sugar to prevent insulin from being released and dictating fat storage at the belly.
To create blood sugar balance, 6 daily steps are suggested:
1. Always begin your day with protein (eliminate/limit carbs in the AM). Ensure adequate protein throughout the day.
Tip: Calculate how much protein you minimally need per day. Essential for blood sugar balance, satiety, growth, energy.
Protein Calculation: your weight in kg x 0.8 grams of protein/kg (or x by 1.2 if active)
2. Always combine carbohydrates with protein, healthy fats, fibre in each meal and snack to slow down the rate that carbohydrates break into sugar. This will avoid a spike in blood sugar and reduce the need for insulin.
3. Avoid overeating carbohydrate products. Choose complex carbohydrates that have low-glycemic values.
Tip: Google "glycemic index (GI) charts", this will show how quickly a food source breaks into sugar.
4. Eat frequent, smaller meals throughout the day
Tip: This is helpful for those who experience hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) spells
5. Exit fight-flight mode (cortisol releases a surge of sugar, if not used as fuel to fight or fly, it circulates and is stored)
Tip: Stay tuned for Part 2: Stress, Cortisol, Belly Flab
6. Physical Activity!!
Tip: Physical activity readily "allows" sugar floating in the blood to enter into the body tissues and be used as fuel.
To living in health,
Amy de Oliveira, Naturopathic Doctor
Women's & Family Natural Health Expert