Have you started to feel that no matter how many crunches you do, you’ll always stay plagued by a consistent muffin top?
If yes, then it’s probably not your workout that’s proving to be your enemy. It’s your blood sugar.
And here is exactly why: When you eat refined sugar and carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels start shooting sky-high. But everything that goes up must also come down. This is where your pancreas comes in- to release a hormone called insulin which will shovel all the extra sugar away. But unfortunately for you, this same insulin also ends up signaling your body to store belly fat.
And the sugary content of all the food you eat will not only affect the hormones that regulate your blood sugar levels. It will also have an impact on your adrenal glands as well as your stress hormones. This can possibly lead to even more weight gain and expansion in your belly. Some studies have in fact revealed that an increased exposure to the stress hormone, cortisol, leads to more belly fat in women.
Here are the top three strategies I would recommend to anyone who wishes to lose all that annoying belly fat:
Always eat a balanced, healthy breakfast.
Make sure that your morning meal is always filled with a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and good type of fats.
I’m sure a lot of you are wondering why this is so important. A good and healthy breakfast will help you feel satisfied and satiated. It will also provide your body with the necessary nutrients that can slowly be released throughout the morning.
This will keep your blood sugar levels low. In contrast to this, a candy-coated breakfast will only end up causing your blood sugar levels to spike.
To trim down on the belly fat, make it an aim to eat low-glycemic, blood-sugar-balancing breakfasts, such as:
- Poached eggs on a bed of steamed greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or arugula
- Whole-grain porridge, made with real whole grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, or oats and topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or eggs
- Half of a steamed sweet potato mashed with coconut oil and cinnamon, and topped with nut butter or hemp seeds
- A protein-powered smoothie with fruit, greens, avocado, almond milk, protein powder, and hemp, chia, or flax seeds
- A superfood hot chocolate made with almond milk, raw cacao, coconut oil, sesame seeds, goji berries, hemp seeds, and banana.
Keep your snacking smart so the blood sugar remains steady
When hunger suddenly strikes, what are you most likely to do? You reach out for the things that are most convenient, and not necessarily beneficial to your health. This can prove to be even trickier if you’re part of a work environment where coffee breaks are an essential. So you keep getting tempted with caffeinated or sugary items like muffins, lattes, and cookies. Unfortunately, for all of us, these delicious goodies can often trigger the blood sugar levels to spike and crash, ultimately leading to a muffin top.
This is why it is necessary to start keeping some healthy snacks nearby for whenever a craving starts, snacks that can help keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. A few of my favorite ideas for this include:
- An apple spread with nut butter
- A mug of miso soup sprinkled with hemp seeds
- Gluten-free whole-grain crackers with guacamole, hummus, or salsa
- A handful of trail mix
- A homemade granola bar
Exercise and diet are undoubtedly very important in achieving that perfect belly. But both these ways will prove to be significantly less effective if your mind keeps spinning with any kind of frustrating or stressful thoughts.
This is why I would recommend mindfulness meditation as a commentary strategy to your plan. Research has shown how mediation can help in reducing your levels of stress hormones, improve your sleeping patterns, lowering your blood pressure, and even boosting your immune system.
You don’t necessarily have to practice meditation for long hours on end to reap any of its benefits. Just start with some simple steps- take 10 deep breaths when you wake up in the morning, and set a timer at continuous intervals for ‘breathing breaks’ throughout your day. This will prove to be an amazing alternative to your 11 am sugar-filled coffee breaks.
Some other meditative activities can be spending some time with nature, going out for walks, taking up a yoga class, or even taking a nap.
With the help of these three simple strategies, you can effectively increase your chances of completely eliminating that muffin top, while enjoying some delicious healthy food along the way.