Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Fighting Belly Fat, part II

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OK, you’ve heard the scoop about moderate exercise 250 minutes a week  or doing intense exercise 125 minutes a week to reduce belly fat. Some of my readers responded that it would be hard to do that on a regular basis. I’m not letting you off the hook, but here are some other factors that can really make a difference.

  • Whole food consumption – fruit, vegetables and whole grains are full of anti-oxidants which fight inflammation in your intestines and stomach, while processed foods are increasingly linked to belly fat and poor digestion. Processed foods usually are high in carbohydrate, which if limited, plays a role in dropping weight. Foods in their natural state contain less sugar and additives that increase shelf life both in and outside your body. Appropriate caloric consumption plays a large role in moderating belly fat- check out this website for an estimate of your proper caloric intake at
  • Hormonal imbalances –  create an accumulation of body fat around the middle. Excess accumulation is linked to problems such an insulin resistance and heart problems, so the issue goes beyond appearance; it can negatively affect health
  • Hormone level reduction- progesterone and estrogen levels drop off after menopause, and testosterone drops after midlife  in men
  • High intake of saturated fat (the kind in meat and dairy)  –  linked to increased visceral fat.  Monounsaturated fats (the kind in olive oil and avocados) and specific types of polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega-3s, found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon) have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.  Even healthy fats must be eaten in moderation to control caloric intake.
  • Alcohol intake- most alcohol is fairly high in calories, but even wine, which is low in calories inhibits our will power, causing us to overeat, even if not hungry
  • Sleep  -at least 7-8 hours a night, because the appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin are regulated during sleep, and less sleep increases cravings and influences food amounts and choices
  • Stress – high levels cause cortisol  to consistently pour into your blood which adds to belly fat
  • Genetics- a body that is apple shaped, vs. pear-shaped may make visceral and belly fat more difficult to fight, but not impossible
  • Multi-muscle exercises –  planks and lunges with weights, twists with medicine balls, and any combination moves that get heart rates up.  Doing weight training simultaneously helps build lean muscle mass quicker, increasing your metabolic rate at rest.

For more information go to the following websites:,,20807507,00.html07,00.html07,00.html07,00.html

In summary, what are you doing to address:

  1. Nutrition – eating whole foods, lean proteins,  and lots of produce on a daily basis, while limiting sugar, saturated fats and alcohol and monitoring caloric intake
  2. Digestion – eating foods that are anti-inflammatory and ensuring your gut has enough probiotics to process and eliminate food adequately
  3. Exercise -A minimum of  5 out of 7 days a week including weight training to increase lean muscle mass as well as cardio work to burn calories
  4. Lifestyle – keeping stress at manageable levels and getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night, depending on your specific needs
  5. Hormonal levels- checking with a doctor to make sure that your body chemistry isn’t working against you

Eat well, move a lot and chill out – you’ll see what a difference it can make!

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