Eating too many carbohydrates adds to your waistline. When you eat too many carbohydrates, the calories your body does not need are converted to triglycerides and transported to your fat cells for storage. Carbohydrates also stimulate insulin, which works in the body to store fat. Protein does the opposite. Protein stimulates glucagon, which mobilizes fat from storage. Choosing lean proteins, the right fats and carbs that are low on the glycemic index over those that are absorbed and processed rapidly by the body can help you trim your tummy, says nationally known nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., author of “Fat Flush for Life.”
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Dispense with breads, cereals and crackers that say “bleached” or “enriched” in the first few ingredients. Cut simple sugars, including white sugar, honey, molasses and corn syrup. Also look out for sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose and most especially high-fructose corn syrup. Be wary of processed “low-fat” foods. These often have high sugar levels. Such foods rapidly raise your blood glucose levels. Things that spike blood glucose also potentially raise your triglycerides. In fact, a 2000 study by Robert H. Knopp revealed that low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets lead to a sharp rise in blood triglyceride levels. The study was conducted at the University of Washington’s Northwest Lipid Research Clinic in Seattle, Wash.
Reduce your intake of alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to large changes in your plasma triglyceride levels, hampering efforts to pare pounds, according to the American Heart Association.
Choose slow-release carbohydrates. These are low on the glycemic index. These carbs are good for keeping blood sugar stable. The higher a food’s score on the glycemic index, the more quickly it raises blood sugar. Low glycemic foods include red lentils, baked beans, apples, lentils, peas, peanuts, grapefruit, cherries, dried apricots, green beans, butter beans, chick peas, kidney beans and navy beans, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s glycemic index.
Pick fruits and vegetables, in general, to lower triglycerides and lose belly fat. Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, jicama, kale, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, watercress and zucchini are all especially good vegetable choices. Apples, berries, cranberries, lemons and peaches are good fruit choices as they have fat-flushing properties, Gittleman says.
Drink lots of water. Even mild dehydration is damaging. The kidneys need to call on the liver for help to function. This, in turn, reduces the liver’s ability to burn fat and leads to fat deposits in the body, often around the belly.
Take a gamma linolenic acid (GLA) supplement. GLA stimulates brown fat activity in the body and especially targets the belly area, according to Gittleman. Rich sources are black currant seed oil, borage and evening primrose oil.
Utilize an omega-6 fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). It helps balance blood sugar levels, Gittleman says, and facilitates the body’s ability to access and utilize stored fat, particularly in the belly. It is found in organic, grass-fed beef. CLA also is in lamb, organic dairy products and is available as a supplement. Take 3,000 to 6,000 mg. daily.
Whittle your waist with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) from avocados, nuts and seeds, olives and oils. Oils include peanut, sunflower, olive, flaxseed, safflower, sesame and walnut.
Eat salmon or mackerel twice weekly or take a fish oil supplement. Fish oil is a top fat burner. Its omega-3 fatty acids help reverse insulin resistance and aid in keeping glucose regulated. Gittleman advises 1 to 3 g daily if you supplement.
Ensure you get calcium daily. A 2000 University of Tennessee Department of Nutrition study by M.B. Zemel found that people who add calcium to their diets lose 30 percent more weight. Calcium is in low-fat dairy products and food sources like green leafy vegetables and chia seeds.