5 Key Strategies to Lose Belly Fat

belly fat imageWhile your primary reason for wanting to learn how to lose belly fat may be due to vanity, there are also loads of convincing health reasons for wanting to trim down your waistline as well.

Dangerous visceral fat — the type of deep fat that tends to accumulate near your belly, surrounding your vital organs — raises the risk for serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and many others.

Visceral fat is also called “organ fat” or “intra-abdominal fat”. This fat lies in close proximity to the vital organs of the body, including the liver, kidneys and other digestive organs. Fat is actually similar to an organ, in that it releases compounds in the blood and alters hormone levels.

When fat is stored close to the vital organs, it’s easier for this fat to get into the bloodstream and circulate through the entire body. This leads to problems such as clogged arteries, hypertension and even problems with metabolic functions in the body. Several hormones are involved in accumulation of belly fat, including insulin, ghrelin, leptin and cortisol. Here are some of the ways that the “modern lifestyle” can cause belly fat to start increasing:

  • Insulin is the hormone that’s released when we consume carbohydrates. It helps take glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream and brings it into cells to be used for energy. However, when too much glucose remains in the blood, it’s stored away for later use as body fat.
  • Appetite hormones, including ghrelin and leptin, control how hungry or satisfied we feel before, after and between eating. Eating chemically altered foods (which spike cravings), repeat yo-yo dieting, crash dieting, genetic factors and stress can all interfere with appetite regulation.
  • Cortisol is often called “the stress hormone” because we release more of it when we’re emotionally or physically stressed. Although we need cortisol for some essential functions, too much can contribute to fat accumulation around the midsection, increase appetite in some people, interfere with sleep quality and have other negative effects.

5 Ways to Start Trimming Your Midsection

1. Eat More Fat-Burning Foods

Focus on eating vegetables, fruits, seeds, clean meats and fish, legumes, and others grown in healthy, rich soils without any chemicals added when you’re trying to lose belly fat. This will help not only get rid of the unwanted visceral fat but also give your body the vital nutrients it needs to function properly.

Eating real foods will also result in you eating more of a high-fiber diet, beneficial for controlling appetite, digestion, heart health and more.

2. Eat Mindfully

Slow down while you eat so you’re less likely to scarf down too much, too quickly. Become aware of how much food it takes to make you feel satisfied when eating without becoming overly stuffed.

Face emotional or comfort eating head on by figuring out better ways to handle stressors in your life and eat in a healthy manner first and foremost in order to support your health long-term, rather than just to lose weight quickly.

3. Intermittent Fasting

Best approached as a shift in lifestyle and eating patterns, there’s no need to count calories or measure grams. Simply focus on extending the duration of time between eating the healthy foods you already eat, with a particular emphasis on healthy fats and proteins.

There are several ways to practice fasting, including: skipping breakfast, severely limiting calories on some days or even not eating anything at all some days, or limiting your eating hours to only 8 hours a day. Besides helping to reduce body fat, here are the major benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • has a dramatic impact on human growth hormone levels, resulting in greater endurance with faster muscle repair and growth
  • may help slow the aging process
  • can help regulate insulin levels, which is key for those who are diabetic or obese

4. HIIT Workouts

High-intensity interval training–style has been shown to be an excellent way to burn fat in a short period of time and help improve the physical performance of athletes of all kinds. HIIT workouts combines short, high-intensity bursts of exercise, with slow, recovery phases repeated throughout one short 15–20 minute session. It’s done at 85–100 percent of one’s maximum heart rate rather than 50–70 percent in moderate endurance activity.

5. Get Enough Sleep

A lack of sleep is often one of the most overlooked factors contributing to belly fat, and experts call getting good sleep an “important part of a obesity prevention approach.”  Getting enough sleep helps regulate your stress hormones, controls your appetite better, gives you more energy for physical exercise, may help reduce cravings for sweets and tends to decrease emotional eating.

Effective long-term weight loss that results in decreased visceral/belly fat depends on permanent changes in dietary quality, calorie (energy) intake, lifestyle habits and also physical activity.

Need help with your weight loss goals? Schedule a free 20 minute strategy session and start losing weight fast.


How a Low Fat Diet Can Harm your Weight and Overall Health

Fats are an essential nutrient and one of the primary energy sources for the body. They also play a big role in weight management, absorbing nutrients, maintaining healthy skin and hair, supporting immune function, and hormonal balance.

While a balanced diet that includes plenty of plant foods is key for long-term health, fats are actually needed to properly absorb the fat-soluble vitamins found in many plants — including vitamin A, D, E and K.

Most healthy sources of fat are also fat-burning foods. Their ability to make our food taste good, turn off hunger and stop overeating by making us feel satisfied, has a lot to do with zerofatweight management.

Fats Get a Bad Rap

For decades, we’ve been told to avoid fatty foods like coconuts, eggs, fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy. Since the government’s 1980 Dietary Guidelines were established over 30 years ago, dietary policy has focused on reducing total fat in the American diet to no more than 30 percent of a person’s daily calories. And many of the most popular “diet plans” over the years have reduced fat to much lower levels than this.

Not all fats are created equally and not all affect the body in the same way. While processed and refined fats found in boxed foods and most restaurant fare can be harmful, other types of natural fats have beneficial, life-extending properties. When we miss out on fats in our diets, we can quickly find ourselves feeling tired, moody, constantly hungry, unable to kick cravings and resentful over our restrictive diets.

Low Fat Diet Risks That May Surprise You

We hear much more about healthy fats in the mainstream media today but low-fat, diet and light products of all sorts continue to pack grocery store shelves — what are the real risks of consuming these foods over the full-fat varieties?

1. Poor Brain Function

The brain is largely made up of fat and requires a steady stream of fatty acids to perform optimally. Cholesterol has an important role as a critical brain nutrient, so despite what most people think, low cholesterol levels can be worse than high. This means that a major low-fat diet risk includes poor job performance, low energy, changes in your mood, “brain fog” and so on.

2. Compromised Heart Health

While we’ve been led to believe the opposite for many years, research continues to confirm that heart disease (including coronary artery disease, the leading cause of heart attacks) likely has much more do with inflammation — which is at the root of most diseases — than from high fat or cholesterol intake. This means that an inflammatory diet including lots of sugar, refined carbs, low-quality proteins and processed vegetable oils is actually more threatening to your heart that a diet high in fat — even saturated fat.

3. Weight Gain and Overeating

Recent research involving weight gain (or loss) and fat intake points to an established relationship between fat intake, your hormones and weight fluctuations. We know that many people who go on “diets” tend to gain back all of the weight shortly after. Why does this happen?

One explanation is that weight loss elicits biological adaptations that result in a decline in energy expenditure (adaptive thermogenesis) and an increase in hunger, both of which promote weight regain. But certain studies have found that a higher-fat diet with lower carbs can help prevent this from happening. In addition, most people find that diets higher in fat are more satiating and turn off hunger signals and appetite much more so than lower-fat diets do. This is because fats turn on your fat-burning switch by impacting ghrelin hormone levels.

4. Higher Risk of Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Clinical studies have shown us that excess weight gain and insulin (or blood sugar control) are highly connected.  Lower-fat, higher-carb diets might pose a higher risk for insulin resistance (and weight gain). But we know that eating plenty of healthy fats is one of the keys to controlling insulin. We also know that diets that are higher in fat tend to be lower in carbohydrates and sugar, which is beneficial for diabetes prevention.

5. Hormone Imbalances (Including Sex Hormones Testosterone and Estrogen)

Eating enough fats is one of the most important things you can do to balance hormones naturally. Cholesterol and other fats play a fundamental part in building cellular membranes and hormones. Certain kinds of fats, including cholesterol, also act like antioxidants and precursors to some important brain-supporting molecules and neurotransmitters. These include vitamin D (which actually acts more like a hormone in the body more so than a vitamin) along with other hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

One low-fat diet risk is an increased risk for infertility and other hormonal issues in women. Some studies have found that low-fat diets raise the risk of menstrual problems and difficulty getting pregnant. For example, a 2007 study conducted by the Department of Nutrition and Harvard School of Public Health found that high intake of low-fat dairy foods may increase the risk of infertility whereas intake of high-fat dairy foods may decrease this risk.

 

If you’d like to incorporate healthy fats and nutrition into your weight loss plan, schedule a free 20 minute strategy session and start working on your weight loss goals now.

 

7 Secrets to Lose Weight Fast for Women Over 40

standing on scaleWe all know it takes time to lose weight but if you’re in a hurry these 7 secrets will speed things up. If you’re a woman over 40 these will help you increase your metabolism as well as support your overall health.

  1. Drink Green Tea-drinking herbal teas like green tea, white tea and even black tea can ramp up your metabolism. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed drinking green tea is more effective than other teas at promoting weight loss because of it’s high levels of catechins. Aim to drink 1-3 cups of green tea daily.
  2. Complete a cleanse-doing a professional cleanse program is one of the best ways to lose weight fast. For women over 40 cleansing is a great way to support your liver and give your digestive system a rest. See below for upcoming cleanse dates.
  3. Increase protein intake-if you’re looking to burn fat and build muscle you need more protein. A good starting point is to consume half your body weight in grams of protein per day.
  4. Reduce/eliminate grains-grains contain large amounts of carbohydrates which break down into sugar that your body will store as fat. I’m not against all grains but if you’re trying to lose weight fast letting go of grains can help. Gluten and lectins are inflammatory for many and why letting go of grains at least in the beginning is a good idea.
  5. Know your blood sugar level-not just once a year at a physical. Knowing your blood sugar level means knowing your fasting and post-parandial (after meals) as a tool for optimal health. Your fasting level should be 75-89. After meals it should spike no higher than 110 and 2 hours after eating be down to your fasting level. If it spikes high, you know there are foods in that meal you should not be eating. Many women over 40 have insulin resistance and don’t know it. A glucometer is a great tool to know how your body is handling food and if you are maintaining a good blood sugar level throughout the day.
  6. Burst train-this is one of the most effective ways to lose weight fast. This method of exercise helps you burn fat faster because your metabolism stays elevated for up to 48 hours after exercise.
  7. Eat 90% of your meals at home-being in control of what you’re eating and knowing you are using quality ingredients will help you drop weight fast. Have at least 5-7 recipes you’re comfortable with and can whip up in less than 20 minutes.

Do you need more education and accountability around weight loss? Schedule your free 20 minute strategy session to learn more. click here to schedule

Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

MP900443279Mindful Eating and Weight Loss

Did you know that simply being mindful when you eat can help you to lose weight? There are two big reasons to be mindful when you eat:

  1. You will eat less and enjoy your food more.
  2. You will metabolize and burn food better rather than store it in your belly.

Study after study shows when we eat unconsciously, we eat more. In one particular study, participants were given snack food bags that automatically refilled from a secret compartment under the table. They were compared to people who just had a single bag full. The group that had the auto-refillable bags just kept eating.

Studies also show that when you eat in a stressed state, you store fat in your belly and don’t metabolize your food well. Same food, but eating this way creates more weight gain and inflammation.

Here’s what you can do to be more mindful and create better habits around food:

  • Say a blessing of thanks before each meal-gratitude and prayer help focus the mind and bring you to the present.
  • Always sit down and sit still-don’t eat while watching TV, talking on the phone, driving, standing or walking down the street with food in your mouth.
  • Eat from smaller plates-eating out of a package, bag or container is a good way to overeat and eat unconsciously.
  • Stop and breathe before eating-take 3-5 deep breaths in and out through your nose before every meal.
  • Create a peaceful environment-soft light, candles, quiet music-all of these encourage attention, slow eating and pleasure.
  • Chew each bite multiple times-you’ll improve digestion of your food and your enjoyment of it.
  • Serve food before you put the plate on the table-leave the serving dish on the counter rather than in the center of the table.
  • Don’t reward exercise by thinking, I just walked 3 miles, so I can have a (fill in the blank). Exercise is its own reward.You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.
  • Don’t shop hungry-if you are hungry when you shop, you’ll likely buy more quick snacks, processed foods, and fewer fruits and vegetables.
  • Buy in bulk-then put food into small bags or containers.
  • Make your home a safe zone-don’t keep tempting junk food, poor quality snacks and processed foods in the house.

 

Is Wheat Giving You A Belly

wheat before harvestMany of us are constantly struggling with the battle of the bulge and can’t just seem to get the weight off. We are not alone, as over 1/3 of the US population is obese. What many of us don’t realize is that a common “staple” of our diet may be a huge culprit in the obesity epidemic. The old food pyramid features bread, pasta, and other grains as the predominant food in our diets. But, many experts believe that an increase in wheat consumption and hybridization of wheat may be a big contributing factor to the obesity epidemic.

Modern wheat, which is different from the wheat found 50 years ago, no longer resembles the wheat of our ancestors.  Wheat has been hybridized which means it has been cross-bred with other grains and species so it has a higher yield and contains less nutrients and more carbohydrates.  The history of the genetic changes in wheat can actually be connected to the increase in chronic diseases and obesity across the globe. The hybridization of wheat has caused changes in the starch and gluten which has also made wheat highly addictive.

The Starch thats worse than Table Sugar

The carbohydrate found in wheat is about 75% amylopectin A which has been called a “super carbohydrate” as it has the ability to increase blood sugar faster than other carbohydrates. The molecular structure of amylopectin causes it to be more easily digested than other more complex starches. Ends up, due to this digestibility it can raise blood sugar even faster than a candy bar!

In this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants were given a diet of 70% amylose or 70% amylopectin. Those on the amylopectin diet had higher glucose and insulin responses after a meal. Chronically elevated insulin levels leads to fat storage, specifically in the abdominal area. The only way to get rid of fat is to allow insulin levels to decrease enough in the body so that your body will start burning fat again. So, due to its high amylopectin content, wheat causes not only excess weight, but a whole myriad of other health problems.

Gluten, the protein found in wheat, has also been modified into “super gluten” from its original form that has been linked to a whole host of health problems. The amount of gluten has actually been doubled in hybridized wheat. Gluten triggers inflammation system-wide which causes weight gain, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and multiple chronic diseases. In the digestive system, gluten can actually damage the gut lining triggering full-body inflammation and susceptibility to other bacteria or viruses crossing gut barrier. This syndrome is called “leaky gut” and can be a trigger for a variety of illnesses, especially autoimmune diseases.

Exorphin Addiction

Lastly, wheat is digested into short proteins called exorphins which act similarly to endorphins, the neurotransmitters released during a “runners high”.  Exorphins bind to and stimulate morphine receptors in the brain, making them just as addictive as any other drug. When we eat gluten, it soothes us and makes us feel calmer. This causes us to look for more of this food during stressful times to help calm us down, leading to overeating and weight gain. The FDA is actually looking into opiate blocking medication to help people lose weight.

If you are having difficulty losing weight, have an autoimmune condition, thyroid condition or diabetes, consider following a gluten-free diet for at least 6 weeks to see if you lose weight or if your symptoms resolve. But, don’t just remove gluten in your diet then add gluten-free junk food. Adopt a whole food, gluten free diet and avoid highly processed foods, even if they are gluten-free. Your body and your weight will thank you.

 Key Points:

  • Modern wheat has been hybridized and is different from the wheat commonly consumed 50 years ago.
  • Amylopectin A is the main starch in wheat and has been linked to weight gain and significant elevations in blood sugar.
  • Gluten, the protein in wheat, causes systemic inflammation and can also lead to weight gain and diabetes.
  • Wheat contains morphine-like substances that create an addiction.

 

Balancing Women’s Hormones Naturally

MP900443279Hormones affect every biological system.  They are the body’s chemical messengers and without them, nothing works correctly.  In women, they govern reproduction, plus metabolizing food, proper immune function, physical and emotional responses to stress and the aging of cells. Hormone imbalance can occur at any age.  In young women, imbalances are caused by obesity, and the presence of toxic estrogenic chemicals in today’s dairy products and meat, personal care products, plastics, food containers, pesticides and herbicides, as well as car exhaust.

During the reproductive years, weight gain, blood sugar imbalance and sex hormone imbalances occur due to the stress of modern lifestyles.  Women find it hard to properly take care of themselves as they are busy working and taking care of families.  They don’t get the amount of exercise they once did and are eating high fat and high sugar comfort foods.

Weight gain is a particular concern during perimenopause.  Too much estrogen causes weight gain in the belly area, and belly fat produces more estrogen.  It is a vicious cycle.  Some women in menopause are still experiencing hot flashes and other perimenopause symptoms.

At any age, getting blood sugar under control is key.  Diet and lifestyle choices need to be addressed. Using herbal supplements for hormone balance can be helpful.  Here are 8 steps to help balance hormones naturally.

  1. Clean up your diet by avoiding sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
  2.  Add plenty of organic fruits and vegetables to your diet.  Choose meats and dairy products that are organic or raised without hormones and antibiotics.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Avoid plastic bottles and food containers whenever possible.
  5. Choose natural personal care products including shampoos, lotions & cosmetics.
  6. Use natural household cleaning products.
  7. Find a good stress management technique.
  8. Use phytoestrogens such as chasteberry or black cohosh to balance excess estrogen.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Eat Healthy at Work

Healthy-Diet5 Ways to Eat Healthy at Work

1. Make it the Night Before

If you’re like many who have limited time in the morning and you know you’ll be rushing out the door-make it the night before. Throw a salad together with a form of protein, pack some nuts and or fruit and you’ve got a quick, healthy meal.

2. Take Leftovers

Don’t want to make anything at all? Just cook enough dinner so you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Put them in a Tupperware container after you’ve eaten at night and you’re ready to go.

3. Use a Blender

If your stuck in the office having a blender around comes in handy. In a pinch you can whip up a great smoothie simply by using whey protein, fruit and water or juice. It’s easy, quick and nutritious for when you’re short on time.

4. Keep Canned Tuna and Salmon at Work

If you’ve got limited choices and you know there is nothing else good around, go to protein from tuna or salmon. Make sure the salmon is wild, keep some mayo or mustard at work and have with crackers and or fruit. Tuna and salmon are 100% protein, will support balanced blood sugar levels and are easy to make.

5. Keep Temptations Away

So many office spaces these days are filled with bagels, chocolates, pretzels or other sugar-laden temptations that someone brought to work to share. The simple solution is to move these treats away from you so you can’t smell them or see them. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is a cliché for a very good reason: It’s true!  Your number one goal is to minimize the number of temptations that surround you, as that’s the easiest way to guarantee that you won’t get off track.

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Roasted Root Veggies with Turkey

 

 Ingredients

 

Instructions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined. Place in a baking dish and cover. Bake for 20 minutes, then bake uncovered for another 10 minutes to crisp vegetables.

 

Raw Kale Salad

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the kale in a large salad bowl and add the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Massage the mixture with your hands for 1–2 minutes to soften the kale.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
  3. Allow the salad to rest and soften for about 15 minutes before serving. Kale salad is best if eaten the same day but can be stored overnight in the refrigerator.

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Slivered Almonds

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the almonds on a baking tray and bake for 6–7 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  2. In a sauté pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the Swiss chard and salt and continue to sauté until the chard is tender. Add the almonds and serve.

Chocolate Drizzled Winter Fruit

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash and pat dry pears.
  2. Quarter each pear
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler
  4. Take a spoon and lightly drizzle melted chocolate over each slice.
  5. Refrigerate for later or serve immediately

 From The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook

 

7 Weight Loss “AHA’S”

1. Attempting to lose weight by eating less and exercising more only works well if your metabolism is healthy and you have good adrenal function.

2. If you have a damaged metabolism (which most have from constant dieting) then caloric restriction and excessive cardiovascular exercise can lead to weight loss resistance.

3. High cortisol leads to problems with fat burning and low cortisol compounds the problem. Cortisol needs to be balanced in order to burn fat at an optimal level.

4. Missing even a few nights of good sleep can cause you to gain weight-lack of sleep changes the biology of fat cells. This is a great example of why it’s not all about calories. Even those eating a good diet but struggle with sleep and only get 5-6 hours will have a tougher time losing weight.

5. Women who crave sweets, chocolate and carbs just before their period are usually in adrenal exhaustion. When you crave it’s also a sign your blood sugar levels are not balanced. If you’re not balancing your blood sugar throughout the day you’ll have a harder time losing weight. Eating protein with each meal can help to diminish cravings.

6. High cortisol levels lower serotonin the feel good neurotransmitter and leads to over eating of carbs which can be reversed with amino acid therapy or adrenal programs. Low serotonin levels also impacts mood and how well you sleep.

7. Food intolerances play a major role in why many struggle to lose weight. Gluten and dairy are the top two culprits that cause gi issues like bloating, gas and inflammation in the gut. This leads to poor digestion and metabolic function.

 

New Drug for Hot Flashes

24 million women suffer from hot flashes and now there will be a new drug offered-should you take it? The drug called Brisdelle will be available in November 2013, is a non-hormonal medicine similar to Paxil. In clinical trials women having 10 hot flashes per day dropped to 4 after taking the drug for 12 weeks. Sounds pretty good right? But those taking a placebo dropped from 10 to an average of 5-6 per day.

Dr. Iffath Hoskins states the drug is known to have increased suicidal tendencies in women along with thinning of bones.

There are many other options for women I feel are much better than resorting to a drug with possible side effects. Working on dietary intake, exercise and stress management all support hormone balance. When more is needed bio-identical hormones are an excellent option. There are also many herbal products that can offer relief including maca, black cohosh and red clover.

As with many health conditions the question arises-do you want to get to the root cause of the problem or simply take a pill to mask symptoms? Addressing the root cause of hormone imbalances requires work and attention to what you’re putting in your body especially foods and liquids that create heat in the body such as alcohol and caffeine. Looking at stress levels and adrenal gland function is also related to hormone imbalances. Those with altered cortisol levels disrupt progesterone output and the progesterone-estrogen balance needed.

For more information attend Healthy Hormones Naturally on Aug. 7. Details on the classes tab.