22 Belly Fat Tips From Three Experts That Will Make You Healthy and Lean
Grab your favorite belly fat tips and begin to trim your abs and the rest of your very fine self right now. Three experts show you the way.
IN THIS day and age of excess food and insufficient exercise, our bellies are burgeoning. So much so that some clothes manufactures have increased the waistlines of pants without changing the label.
At least for men’s jeans, they are. Take a pair of men’s jeans, pull out a tape measure and measure the circumference of the waistline. Then compare that to the marked size. When I did this with a pair of jeans marked with a 36-inch waistline, the tape measured it at 38 inches!
It’s that biology of blubber kinda thing that Oprah and Dr. Oz discussed as they each held up a stretch of omentum, which is the fat organ connected to your stomach whose only purpose is to catch and store fat.
Few of us have the lean, taunt muscular abdomens we’d choose if a magic wand were to happen to fall in our hands.
The next best thing?
I’m about to show you that.
Over the last many hours, I’ve gone into health journalist mode and have been hopping around the Interwebs looking for worthy information about how to carve away belly fat.
I wanted actionable, effective belly fat tips.
I know this topic is of interest to my readers because many of you took the survey about what’s most important to your health and I want to become leaner and more muscular was the number one choice among the 12 selections.
Given that this website is focused on the motto, Live Long and Strong, it was interesting to me that readers recognize the important contribution that being lean and muscular has on longevity and vitality.
By “muscular” I’m not referring to bodybuilding type muscularity, but rather enough muscle to enable you to be functionally fit.
And when I say, “functionally fit”, I refer to the capacity to lift, push and move your body. I could be pushing yourself off the floor multiple times, lifting your body over a ledge and moving it up a steep hill.
Click here for articles about becoming functionally fit.
The reason you rarely see gym-goers improve their fitness is because they do not perform the right exercises with the required effort. If you’d like to get strong, muscular, more flexible and improve your cardio, dig in and watch this six-part workout.
Six body weight exercises you can do anywhere that will make you functionally fit forever. (Or at least a very long time!)
No more excuses! Studies show that there are many benefits of strength training for older adults. Tim Carrigan did it, and so can you. A COUPLE of months ago I tore out an article from the Wall Street Journal written by Laura Johannes, entitled, The Benefits of Pumping Iron Later in Life. “Right up my […]
It is necessary to exercise to some degree in order to build functional fitness, but it is not sufficient. You also need to eat right. As the saying goes,
Unless you’re a competitive long distance athlete. In that case, just about anything you consume will be used as fuel; however, although such a person might be lean, it’s doubtful that he or she will win competitions if the diet is not tuned for success.
That said, let’s turn to the fork and go over what you need to put on it before it goes into your mouth.
What you’ll learn in this article:
- How belly fat can cause diabetes and heart attacks;
- Dr. Natasha Turner’s six belly fat tips (hormonal);
- Author and coach David Zinczenko’s 10 belly fat tips (food); and
- Drs. Chris and Kara Mohr 7 belly fat tips (practical and fun).
Let’s dig into all the info and tips I dug out from the Internet, along with my commentary.
Every day I read several articles focused on what it takes to become stronger, younger and more vital. The good ones are categorized and bookmarked. At this point I have hundreds of such articles, and today I’m going to curate the information from three articles that deal with whittling away the belly fat.
Why belly fat in particular? Why not just take aim at fat everywhere?
In his article, Belly Fat Causes Diabetes, Heart Attacks, Dr. Mirkin digs into what he thinks is the main cause of abdominal obesity – high blood insulin levels.
Here’s how this happens via high blood insulin levels:
- You eat a carbohydrate-loaded meal.
- To keep your body’s blood sugar levels from rising too high too quickly, the pancreas releases insulin.
- The insulin converts the blood sugar to a type of fat called triglycerides.
- The insulin then drives triglycerides into your belly’s fat cells.
- High blood levels of insulin – indicative of triglycerides and belly fat – constrict arteries and cause heart attacks.
- The insulin also acts on the brain (the insulin/leptin connection) to make you eat more, on your liver to make more fat and on fat cells in your belly to store that fat.
Here’s how this happens once the liver is involved:
- The liver normally removes insulin from the bloodstream, but insulin causes fat to be deposited in the liver, which prevents the liver from removing insulin from the bloodstream.
- People with fat bellies store too much fat in their livers, which prevents the livers from removing insulin, so insulin levels rise higher and higher to cause heart attacks, more abdominal obesity and eventually diabetes.
(Read about how the fat in your belly is different from your hips here.)
Good thing there are many things we can do to whittle away fat from our bellies and everywhere else. For that I’m going to summarize the suggestions of three belly fat experts:
- Dr. Natasha Turner, a Naturopathic doctor and author, will give us the hormonal perspective summarized in six tips;
- David Zinczenko, author and coach, will provide his 10 practical, specific tips, as in what to eat; and
- Drs. Chris and Kara Mohr will give us a few chuckles with their fun, creative suggestions.
Dr. Turner – Tune Your Hormones
Dr. Natasha Turner is a Naturopathic doctor and author of The Supercharged Hormone Diet, The Hormone Diet, and The Carb Sensitivity Program. Her belly fat tips are focused on balancing your hormones, which she wrote about in Reset Your Hormones to Beat Belly Fat. I summarize her suggestions and add my own point of view next.
1. Reduce High Insulin
Some information about insulin was already presented by Dr. Mirkin above, and is the first thing that Dr. Turner wants you to consider as a contributing factor behind belly fat.
To recount: Insulin is an essential substance whose main function is to process sugar in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. A primary cause is excess intake of sugar or carbohydrates typical of many diets today that are dominated by processed foods, sugary drinks (soda), packaged low-fat foods, insufficient protein and fiber.
So, what do you do?
Dr. Turner suggests that women increase their protein consumption to around 20 to 25 grams per meal, 15 to 20 grams per snack, and men add 10 grams to meals (thus 30 to 35 grams) and 5 grams per snack (thus 20 to 25 grams).
According to a study published in Diabetes Care, a high protein diet helps to shed belly fat. In the study, those on a high protein diet experienced significantly greater reductions in total and abdominal fat mass and a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol).
This advice is spot on in my experience and reflects most everything I’ve read about the effects of protein on body fat. I say “most”, because there is the potential for too much protein from meat sources to cause kidney stress through inflammatory mechanisms and dietary acid load as reported by Dr. Michael Greger here and here.
Given that I’m not a big meat eater, I can only ingest the amount of protein suggested by Dr. Turner if I supplement with various protein powders; namely whey protein powder after workouts; otherwise pea, sprout and/or hemp protein powders.
If I’m just adding the protein powder supplement to a meal, I’ll simply mix it in water or almond milk. If it’s the main or substantial part of a meal, then I’ll blend the protein powder with an assortment of other ingredients such as kale, broccoli, spinach, ginger root, chia seeds and whatever herbs I’m using at the moment, such as Indian Gooseberry and/or Ashwagandha.
2. Reduce High Cortisol
Your cortisol is likely to be persistently high if:
- You suffer from a mood disorder such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or exhaustion, or
- You have a digestive issue such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Persistently elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol are detrimental to your health and your body composition.
Cortisol elevated by chronic stress increases your appetite and cravings, causes a loss of muscle mass, libido and bone density, and contributes to depression and memory loss.
Stress can cause abdominal fat – even in people who are otherwise thin. Researchers at Yale University, for example, found slender women who had high cortisol also had more abdominal fat. More results published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine established a link between cortisol and increased storage of abdominal fat.
So, what do you do?
Get at least 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night and eat at specific times.
Dr. Turner says that when deprived of sleep, you tend to awaken with elevated cortisol and that fuels appetite and cravings, especially for sugary and carb-dominate treats. In contrast, enough sleep can help you lose weight by influencing hormones that help with weight loss and increased metabolism.
Maintaining consistent blood sugar in your body further reduces stress. Achieve this by eating a high protein breakfast within one hour of rising and avoiding more than a three to four hour gap between meals.
Cortisol is referred to as the “death hormone” for a reason. Not only does it mess with your metabolism, make you agitated and put on the pounds, but also can shorten telomeres – those chromosomal caps the length of which may determine lifespan.
To the point about not allowing a three to four hour gap between meals, I’d like to suggest that if you can do so without ill effects, Intermittent Fasting is an excellent way to burn fat, enable autophagy that might prolong a healthy lifespan and disrupt homeostasis.
3. Reduce High Estrogen
What men need to know is that estrogen for them can be a vicious circle – their abdominal fat increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and as estrogen levels rise there’s a proclivity to accumulate more abdominal fat. Moreover, the risk of prostate cancer also increases with higher estrogen levels.
What premenopausal woman with high levels of estrogen (also known as estrogen dominance) need to know is that this cause PMS, too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight.
For both genders, high estrogen can cause or intensify low libido, memory loss, poor motivation, depression, loss of muscle mass, and increased belly fat.
So, what do you do?
The supplements mentioned help to rid the body of excess “negative” estrogen and correct the balance of estrogen to testosterone. Adding ground flax and chia seeds, as well as fiber will also help eliminate excess estrogen.
As long as you’re going to test for estrogen, you might as well get a more complete picture of your steroid hormones. I’ve done the Life Extension Foundation’s Male Panel and recommend it. They also have one for woman, Female Panel.
Go here and see all the available blood tests from Life Extension.
Rather than turmeric as suggested by Dr. Turner, use a compound of turmeric called curcumin instead. It’s more powerful.
4. Bump Up Low Testosterone
Testosterone levels decrease when:
- Abdominal fat converts it to estrogen,
- When stressed,
- When obese,
- With declining muscle tissue, and
- As men age.
Researchers from the University of Washington found that men with low testosterone are more likely to develop a potbelly and other body fat. They also found that testosterone may prompt the loss of body fat when deficient levels are replaced.
Signs of low testosterone levels include:
- A loss of muscle tissue,
- Decreased strength, drive and motivation, and
So, what do you do?
Dr. Turner recommends supplementing with the herb Tribulus terrestris, zinc and weight training.
Tribulus terrestris is an herb that may help reduce the binding of testosterone to sex hormone-binding globulin, she says. Zinc may also help for undefined reasons.
My go-to resource for getting the skinny on supplements is Examine.com. Go here to learn about their 12 “supplement stacks” for testosterone, fat loss, mood /depression, libido and more.
According to the research done by Examine.com on tribulus terretris,
“The herb seems to be a possibly healthy herb that enhances sexuality but with limited use for power output and testosterone enhancement (which it has repeatedly failed to do).” (source)
5. Boost Low DHEA
DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone and also helps to counteract the negative effects of cortisol.
You don’t want to take DHEA – or any hormone — without first knowing if you have a deficiency.
So, what do you do?
If deficient, Dr. Turner recommends low doses of DHEA, 5 to 25 mgs twice daily with meals. The herbal supplement Relora can reduce cortisol and raise DHEA within two weeks of use. Retest DHEA levels after four to six weeks.
DHEA influences your ability to lose fat and gain muscle. It boosts libido and helps you feel motivated, youthful and energetic. Testing is important because you can quickly increase your DHEA to excessive levels, which is harmful.
Now to Relora — according to Total Health Magazine in an article called “Reduce Stress with Relora”,
A 2001 pilot study looked at Relora’s impact on DHEA and cortisol. A two-week regimen of Relora in subjects with mild to moderate stress experienced a significant increase in salivary DHEA (up to 227 percent) and a substantial decrease in morning salivary cortisol levels. In addition, Relora increased the DHEA levels from subnormal limits to within normal limits in seven out of ten subjects whose initial levels were below normal, showing its ability to restore balance.
I boosted my DHEA quickly with the supplement, but stopped after I realized that I wasn’t testing for it often enough. (Go here and see all the available blood tests from Life Extension.) I’ve never experienced Relora but intend to.
6. Boost Low Growth Hormone
This omnipotent hormone just about does it all – it affects just about every cell in the body and has a major impact on our feelings, actions and appearance.
Problem is that it declines precipitously at about age 20.
Growth hormone is released during deep sleep and while exercising. It’s essential for tissue repair, muscle building, bone density, and healthy body composition.
A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism linked abdominal obesity in postmenopausal women with low growth hormone secretion, elevated inflammatory markers and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
So, what do you do?
Sleep in a cool room in pitch darkness and do short, intense 30-minute strength-training sessions thrice weekly.
The dark room for sleeping promotes the release of melatonin that triggers a slight but important cool-down of the body, which then releases growth hormone. The coolness of the room amplifies this effect.
The intense exercise rapidly increases the production of human growth hormone, which can be sustained above normal levels for several hours.
I so much love a dark room for sleeping that I wear an eyeshade mask. For me, it’s easier than running around the bedroom trying to ensure that no light comes through the windows, or from any light-throbbing cell phone, computer or alarm clock.
But I don’t leave melatonin production to chance. Besides helping promote deep sleep, melatonin is also a potent antioxidant, so I supplement with it at 2.5 mgs, sublingual, right before bed. (Take the smallest effective dose.)
Now to the exercise part of boosting human growth hormone. Dr. Turner is spot on regarding how intense exercise spikes human growth hormone.
The acronym for this type of exercise is HIIT, for “High Intensity Interval Training”. If you want to get the skinny on that, read my article, Boost Your Human Growth Hormone in 20 Minutes and watch Dr. Mercola get put through the paces.
Click here for more articles on HIIT.
Increase your healthspan and get biologically younger with feast-famine regimen, plus high intensity interval training.
Our human growth hormone speedily decreases after adolescence, and with it goes the lean body mass, energy and healing capacities of our youth. You can supplement with HGH, but by far the best way to get your HGH boost is by high intensity interval training.
David Zinczenko’s 10 Belly Fat Tips
David Zinczenko is the author of the Zero Belly Diet and Eat This, Not That. He’s one of those people who needed to find a solution to his problem, found it and then packaged it up for others. In his case, he was an overweight child who had a father that died young from a stroke instigated by obesity.
Mr. Zinczenko’s focus is on reducing inflammation and bloating, and to switch off fat-storage genes. I’m unclear about which genes he’s referring to or how they’re switched off, but would guess that they have to do with leptin, insulin and cortisol.
In this Tech Times article, Zinczenko claims that he’s tested his belly-reducing program and that, on average, a person on his program lost four inches of belly girth in six weeks.
Here’s Zinczenko’s list of foods that help reduce belly fat, his description of them, along with my comments:
7. Plant-based Smoothies
They include protein powder, fiber, healthy fat and reseveratrol.
Protein — If you consume your smoothie in the morning, I suggest that you use protein powders made from sprouts, peas, and/or hemp. These sources of protein will be absorbed more slowly than, say, whey protein powder, which I recommend be the pick if you drink your smoothie after a workout when your muscles would enjoy some protein straight away.
Fiber — Consider adding resistant starch to feed the beneficial microbiota (bacteria) in your gut, such as a few slices of raw potato, a green banana or a resistant starch supplement called Prebiotic Plus.
Healthy Fats – Use seeds such as chia, flax or hemp (all of which also provide fiber), and/or add an avocado. If you can handle the taste, add a tablespoon of fish oil. Carlson’s makes high quality flavored fish oil that might not make you gag.
Resveratrol – As WebMD would tell you, resveratrol is a member of a group of plant compounds called polyphenols that are thought to have antioxidant properties, protecting the body against the kind of damage linked to increased risk for conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes, but other sources include peanuts and berries, although in minute quantities. Science has gone back and forth regarding the usefulness of resveratrol, and that’s why I prefer to use Pterostilbene.
Click here to learn more about Pterostilbene.
Pterostilbene is a polyphenol shown to improve metabolic health in lab studies. Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants that comprise over 4,000 species, and are found naturally in blueberries and grapes.
Pterostilibene is similar to resveratrol, that grape “extract” found in red wine that has been heralded as a longevity promoter. Recent studies suggest that Pterostilibene is actually superior to Resveratrol, which might sadden Dr. Sinclair, as he also was one of a team of scientists who discovered that Resveratrol, a molecule in red wine, can “stick to this protein that controls ageing and make it more active”, he said.
Eggs include choline, which is a nutrient that researchers claim turns off the genes responsible for gaining visceral fat.
According to famed nutritionist, Dr. Michael Greger, consuming too much choline it not a healthy choice. Choline is a compound concentrated in eggs and other animal products. Dr. Greger says it can make bodily secretions smell like rotting fish and may increase the risk of heart disease due to conversion in the gut to trimethylamine (TMAO).
Au contraire insists acupuncturist Chris Kresser – he insists that the choline and TMAO in eggs do not cause heart disease and other problems.
Click here to watch Dr. Greger’s videos on choline and TMAO and get Kresser’s links on the subject.
Frankly, I’m unsure who is right on this eggs debate. I suggest you watch the videos and read Chris Kresser’s articles and make up your own mind.
9. Red Fruits
As “they” say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and Zinczenko suggests that a red apple a day can also help to reduce obesity genes.
I’m unaware about where Zinczenko got this information, so I did the google and found only one study that said polyphenol-rich cloudy apple juice significantly reduced body fat, but not waist circumference, which leads me to believe that the fat did not come mainly from the belly.
This does not mean you should rely on guzzling apple juice to lose body fat, because it contains a lot of fructose (sugar) and that can mess with your blood glucose and insulin. Conclusion: just eat an apple a day, maybe two.
10. Healthy Fats
Olive oil is an example of healthy fats and it can assist in controlling hunger for up to four hours, says Zinczenko.
If it’s high quality, organic and extra virgin, olive oil can be healthy if consumed in moderation and not heated above the smoke point.
I suggest that rather than cooking with olive oil, use grass-fed butter or organic coconut oil and use olive oil unheated.
Moreover, since the healthy balance of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids are out of balance in favor of omega-6 for most people (olive oil has both), I suggest you focus on consuming foods and oils that are predominately omega-3, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, avocados and fish oil.
For more on this, read thishttps://www.garmaonhealth.com/belly-fat-tips-from-three-experts/sser.com/how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick by Chris Kresser and this by Dr. Andrew Weil.
11. Oats, Rice, Beans and other Fiber
These food items work along with the gut bacteria and turns off the genes responsible for obesity.
Dunno about turning of the genes thing, but what fiber will do is to feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. The science on this is relatively new, but already it’s becoming clear that the symbiotic relationship we have with the bacteria on and in us can affect our immune system, inflammation, mood and obesity. Read How Gut Bacteria Can Make Us Fat or Thin.
The human microbiome (consisting of all of our microbes’ genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes). The genes in our microbiome outnumber the genes in our genome by about 100 to 1.
I recommend you get your microbiome checked by uBiome. Get 10% off by using this link. Update: uBiome is now out of business.
If you want to read more about how your health is impacted by the health of your microbiota, check out these articles.
12. Plant Protein
Plant protein found in nuts such as almonds and pecans and in sunflower oil can help reduce extra belly fat. Plant-based protein powder can also be added to smoothies to get that extra benefit.
Refer to my comment in #1. Most people in the industrialized world get too much of their protein from animal products. Consider making a concerted effort to balance it out with plant-derived protein. In addition to nuts, increase your intake of beans and lentils. Soaking them over night in water before you cook them will increase their nutritional value.
13. Lean meat
Lean meat such as chicken breast without the skin, white meat of turkeys and more can also fight belly fat.
Yeah, protein in general is can help get you learner. One reason is that protein nourishes muscle and muscle increases metabolism. Another reason is that protein has a satiating effect on appetite, so you might thereby eat less if each meal includes protein.
14. Green tea and leafy vegetables
These food items assist in turning off the genes responsible for fat storage and reduce inflammation.
Go for a wide assortment of different colored vegetables, such as purple cauliflower, red, orange and green pepper, red chard, various types of kale and the like.
Some spices such as ginger and cinnamon also help reduce belly fat as they attack fat genes and also reduce inflammation.
Again, unsure about the “attack fat genes” part, but ginger is useful for inflammation. Cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar surges when simple carbohydrates (fast, easily digested carbs, like white bread) are consumed, as does apple cider vinegar.
Seven Innovative Belly Fat Tips from Drs. Chris and Kara Moore
Now to a dynamic duo, the husband and wife team of Drs. Chris and Kara Moore, who have these 7 Belly Fat Busting Strategies, which I’ll add onto those of David Zinczenko, starting with #16:
16. Decrease Your Plate Size
Dump the big dinner plates and bowls, and replace them with smaller snack plates and bowls. This has been studied. People wind up eating less.
Also try using chopsticks instead of a fork. You’ll eat slower and give your brain/belly connection more time to signal satiation.
17. Use Smaller Utensils
Same idea as the chopstick suggestion made above. When your fork or spoon is smaller, you can’t shove all the food in your move like a shovel would enable.
18. Use Candles
Yes, this has actually been researched, say the Mohr’s, and the findings are that those who eat in a nicer setting practice more portion control.
My 2 cents on this is that a person has to be more present and mindful to create a different dining setting, whether it be candles or a different tablecloth, or flowers as a centerpiece. This mindfulness slows down the pace of eating, which enables ample time for your brain to register that you’re full.
19. Serve Individual Portions
The idea here is to serve single portions without the option to pile on seconds or thirds, like we all tend to do for Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, if you’re prone to overeating, read 3 Strategies To Fix Your Holiday Binge.
20. Brush Your Teeth
Do this immediately after each meal and snack. More food, or dessert, won’t sound so appealing with minty fresh breath.
I often brush my teeth with my left hand, which is my non-dominant hand, explained next.
21. Use Your Non-dominant Hand
Again, the idea here is to put yourself into a situation where you’ll eat more slowly and mindfully.
I almost always use my non-dominant left hand to scramble eggs. This is non-trivial until you get used to it. The initial lack of coordination is humbling. Why do it? Becoming proficient in something that requires physical coordination helps balance both sides of the brain, says Sequence Wiz.
Click here to view a neurologist’s cartoon presentation on the matter.
22. Surround Yourself with Positivism
Research shows who you spend time with will dictate fat loss success.
My guess that the reason this happens is that being around positive, active, healthy people increased your “feel good” hormones, such as dopamine and influences you to act in a similar manner as do your cohorts. When you feel good and happy, you aren’t driven to use food as a substitute for it.
Your Belly Fat Loss Takeaway
If you actually read the whole thing, you now have in your eager mind a bunch of things to explore on your road to reducing belly fat.
Where you start is up to you, but I suggest you start with the belly fat tip that you’re most willing to do.
Compliance is everything!
If it sounds good, but if you’re not really willing to take blood or saliva tests to go along with one of those hormone balancing suggestions made by Dr. Natasha Turner, then select something easier to do that you will actually do.
Anything new that you want to habitually do will require an approach that makes it a habit. If you need help with that, read one or more of my several articles on habit making.
Then choose the simplist belly fat tip that you’re willing to do and do it until it’s a habit. Then select the next one. And so on.
Add some HIIT, and soon you’ll have these abs:
So, go recruit a buddy and whittle away your belly fat together.