How do we lose weight and reduce tummy fat without resorting to fad diets or magic pills? Well, it’s time to get back to the basics of good nutrition, exercise and a positive approach.
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We have become obsessed with fad diets that are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle; they market themselves as amazing solutions to your weight or health problems, but are usually anything but. The most effective and sustainable way to lose weight, live a healthy lifestyle and get rid of that tummy fat is to eat a balanced diet comprising all food groups.
Our modern society has a fixation with both starchy carbohydrates and fats. There are two schools of thought when it comes to carbohydrates: those who will avoid ‘carbs’ at all costs and those who make them the focus of their meals.
The truth about carbs
I can almost guarantee that the majority of people do not know what is considered a portion of carbs. Two new potatoes or one crumpet or half a bagel is a portion, these are things usually used as a basis for a meal. On top of this many people will eat carbs throughout the day, with sandwiches, breakfast bars or cereals.
Many sugary snacks we eat are all carbohydrates. They will be stored in the body and if we are not physically active enough they will cause us to pile on the weight.
Carbs remain an important part of our diet because without them we run out of energy, but we must understand how much we are eating.
The F-word – why fats aren’t all bad
Fat is a scary word for many people, especially those trying to lose weight. Fats just needs to be understood rather than feared. We need fat as much as we need all other food groups, it is just important to eat the right fats.
The one type of fat to steer clear of is Trans-fats. Our body cannot use these fats efficiently so they get stored in the body and are difficult to burn. Understanding body fats will help you when looking at fat content.
You are what you eat
Include lean meats in your diet and ensure that you eat more vegetables than starchy foods. It is also good to eat some dairy products, but be aware that dairy will contain some fat and sugars.
I find a food diary really highlights what you’re eating. Many of you will be surprised at the percentage of each food group you consume. Give it a try and see what you find, I bet you think you eat differently to what you actually do and don’t forget the small snacks that you probably don’t usually take into account.
Exercises to reduce tummy fat
The next step to getting rid of your tummy fat is to do some exercise. High intensity exercises will help you burn fat and reveal muscle. Many people go to the gym with good intentions but often fail to push themselves to the point where they will see improvements.
Until recently it was believed that working aerobically at 70% of our maximum for 40-60 minutes is an effective way to burn fat. Now, however, several studies support the use of interval training. Here you work at 90% of your maximum for a short period – 30-45 seconds – then at 70% during the recovery phase. This takes discipline and hard work, but the results are excellent.
Interval training can be combined with continuous training: it is good to vary your exercise.
Resistance training is important, but many people are scared off this form of exercise. There is a perception, often among women, that resistance training will make them bulky and less feminine.
In fact, women do not produce enough testosterone to see such drastic changes to your body shape. It would take a very strict body builder’s diet and training regime for that to happen.
Exercising the core
There are some great core exercises you can do. One example is squats, a great exercise to work legs, gluteus and core (legs, bums and tums). Make sure your set of reps work you to exhaustion. This goes for any resistance training, you need to push your body the point where you cannot push any more.
When it comes to core training, do not forget your back. This is a mistake many people make, forgetting their lower back while concentrating on their abdominals.
Here is an example of a core circuit you can try:
10 stations, 40 seconds on each with 20 seconds rest in between.
Russian twists, leg raises, medicine ball slams, Spiderman crawl, squats, jump lounges, back extensions, burpees, push up & row and pelvic thrusts.
These use limited equipment and can be done at home.
Getting in the right frame of mind
Psychology, or mind-set, is the next step to weight loss and healthy living. If you are determined and have the desire to make a change you will do it and do it well. Keep focused on your goals and remember the reasons you want to achieve them.
It is important to be organised and make exercise a habit. Try to go to the gym at the same time on the same days so it becomes part of your routine. Group exercise can be good if you struggle to stay motivated, exercise takes on a social element and you are more likely to go if you know your friends are expecting you.
I hope I have given you some food for thought.
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