Picture this: you work out every single day. And it’s not any light workout! No, sir, it isn’t. You work out hard to the point of sweating your shirt off. However, as you take off your clothes, your eyes go straight to your love handles (the so called flanks). They never go away!
Ever been there? So have I! To be perfectly honest, you just want to cry then and there! So, considering all that, I’ve asked several specialists to explain to me why this “fat from hell” takes years – sometimes an entire lifetime – to go away. And, naturally, I also wanted to clear up questions regarding meal plans and working out.
A Little History
Well, along my research, I learned that such protuberance in this area is natural in our organisms and dates back to the Palaeolithic Era. “Back then, our bodies stored fat to be used as energy along the time when they could not hunt or plant”, explains Gilberto Kocerginsky, a practitioner of orthomolecular medicine.
Keeping an Eye on Hormone Levels
Do you know how your testosterone is doing? Well, you should! After all, it can be the culprit – and other hormones too – behind the excesses we’re faced with as we put on our pants or shorts. “A few studies have shown that low levels of testosterone can be related to the increase of belly fat in men”, explains Camila Buitoni, a nutritionist from Indaiatuba (São Paulo).
On the other side, there’s estrogen. This hormone, in higher amounts in women, is also present in our (men’s) organisms. But the rates should be low. When they’re higher than normal, you can be sure that if you take a look at the belly, it will be plump.
In such cases, it’s best to search for a doctor to take your blood samples in order to see how your hormones are doing.
And How about Genetics?
Yes, my friend, the genes you inherit from your parents also influence in localized fats.
Well, it doesn’t mean the battle is lost. On the contrary! All you need is patience. A little more patience. And of course, don’t forget to invest in certain foods and guided workout. But, hey, I got it: I’ll explain everything in detail.
Take that From Your Diet Right Away!
You know that one sweet you had, but ended up having four instead? Well, that’s what’s on your belly! It sounds like a horror story, but that’s the true one! The foods with high glycemic index, like sugar (sodas, sweets, cereal bars, cereals) and white flour (French bread, toasts, pasta) are the biggest culprits behind belly fat.
“The digestion of these foods happens so fast that your insulin levels soar quickly. Naturally, our bodies turn the excess of glucose in the blood in triglyceride (fat), storing it in the adipose tissue (belly and other parts of the organism)”, clears out Karina Valentim, a nutritionist from Patricia Bertolucci Consultoria em Nutrição, from São Paulo.
Another culprit is the glucose syrup, contained in a great deal of industrialized foods, like condiments, yogurts, sodas, cookies, cereals, some cereal bars, chocolate and candies.
And the reason is pretty simple: once metabolized in the liver, the glucose syrup causes fat formation and it’s even been proved that it reduces the action of leptin, a hormone that sends a message to the brain when it’s time to stop eating.
Stay Away from Fried Foods
The combo fries and burger is a sure bomb of saturated and trans fat. You put these two together and, other than making your protuberance plumper, it’ll raise the risk of weight gain and cardiovascular diseases.
“Your total ingestion of fat should never exceed 30% of your total calories a day”. So, it’s necessary to prioritize its unsaturated version, contained in fish, nuts and olive oil”, states Karina.
As for the saturated fat from meats, eggs and milk, the nutritionist advises not to exceed 10% of you total calories.
A Drink Here, Another There
This change in the metabolism, according to the specialist, causes such excess fat accumulation in your bodies.
Fatless Abs Menu
It goes without saying that escaping your diet, on a weekend day, won’t cause you major damages. But you should watch out and invest in the right meal plan.
And speaking of that, a healthy meal plan should include all elements that boost energy in the process of digestion. The most important of them are the thermogenics, which are responsible for boosting metabolism, speeding up your caloric burn, which, in turn, can contribute to localized fat loss.
“Eating whole foods that are full of fibers is also recommended. Fibers control insulin peaks in your organism. The ingestion of two portions of fruit a day, together with nuts or seeds like flaxseeds or chia, which contribute to satiation”, Karina instructs.
Eating lean meats becomes essential as well. If you’re into seafood, you should know that investing in them is just great to eliminate any extra fat in your abs. “Clams contain a certain kind of monounsaturated fat that fights fat accumulation”, Camila Buitoni explains.
For those who love avocado, just an idea: it contains linoleic acids, which helps to delay hunger or eliminate it outright. Besides, it contains fibers, which is a great pick in case you’re aiming at straight abs. But, watch out: avocado is pretty caloric, so, do not exceed one portion a day.
The Best Foods On The Table
And then, faced with so many options, I’ve asked Karina Valentim and Barbara Rodrigues, sports nutritionist, from Rio de Janeiro, to list the best foods in the struggle for straight abs.
Here’s the list:
- Cayenne pepper
Researches have shown that 0,9g of pepper in your main meals boost metabolism up to 15%. It may be ingested raw or in hot dishes.
- Green tea
Researches have proved its action for those aiming at weight loss. And the reason is that, together with workout, the herb increases fat oxidation in our bodies, which contributes to weight loss without reducing lean mass.
It’s recommended to ingest 3 cups of green tea a day, between meals. The only reservation nutritionists will have concerns people with gastric problems. They should see a doctor before investing in green tea.
It can boost metabolism up to 20%. All that thanks to its thermogenic effect. It can be consumed raw, braised or as tea. Another possibility is using a blender to mix it with celery, orange, apple or any other fruits.
But, watch out: high amounts of ginger can cause unpleasant effects, like the rise of blood flow and ulcers. Two small slices of ginger a day is plenty.
- Coconut oil
After intestinal absorption, the coconut oil is taken straight to your liver, where it goes through oxidation, which increases the thermogenesis, mainly after meals.
Its thermogenic effect happens mainly when it’s incorporated into your meal plan, because it boosts caloric burn during digestion and the metabolic process.
It can be consumed with fruits (baked bananas), vitamins and also with hot dishes, because its components are not destroyed by heat. It also fights sugar binge (recommended portion: 1 to 2 teaspoons a way, after meals).
This good fat can be found in freshwater, like sardine, tuna, salmon and herring. This nutrient is in charge of reducing inflammatory cytokines, abundant substance in case the person is overweight or has localized fat. It’s best to ingest these foods 2 to 3 times a week.
- Iced water
Drinking around eight glasses of water at low temperatures a day burns around 200 calories. That happens because your organism burns energy to raise the water temperature from 5ºC to 37ºC , which is our internal body temperature.
It’s Workout Time!
“Interval and high intensity aerobic training, like HIIT, is a great pick. When we oscillate between loads and time, putting all our strength in that exercise, you get a better and faster result”, instructs Natália Bruzzone, who’s a physical educator at Smart Fit Club, in São Paulo.
Do you want a fat burn treadmill program? Here you go:
2 minutes of warm-up, from 5 to 7 km/h.
3 minutes between 7 and 9 km/h.
2 minutes between 5 and 7 km/h.
3 minutes between 10 and 12 km/h.
2 minutes between 5 and 7 km/h.
3 minutes between 10 and 12 km/h.
Natalia points that, in case you have more time or if you’re used to it, you can repeat the cycle so you can get 15 to 30 minutes of the exercise.
Spend Time On Your Abs
“The sit-ups boil down to muscle tone, which gives the area a much better look. Sit-ups, though, are not the solution for love handles. In terms of workout, what should help is running, cycling or other activities that raise your heart rate”, Natalia alerts.
If you wish to boost the process, lotions and other procedures are highly recommended. Cintia Franco, who’s an aesthetician in São Paulo, tells me that lymphatic drainage, the modeling massage and the use of ultrasound are the most common techniques.
“Firstly, it’s necessary to clear the lymphatic system through the massages so that the results are satisfactory”, she says. Next, a specific gel is used with the ultrasound on the areas where the massage will be applied. Finally, the application of a device that melts fat cells, which will be eliminated by the organism,
According to Cintia, two to three sessions are recommended a week and the first signs of measure reduction can be noticed in about 15 days.
Laser to the Rescue
Yes, my friend, aesthetic too has been up-to-date. The Lypolisis treatment, that’s noninvasive, promises to eliminate up to 24% of fat through a 25-minute procedure. The patients can get back to their normal activities right away. See what happen to a small piece of fat under this procedure here.
“The diode laser increases the temperature of body fat to destroy subcutaneous cells that, after the treatment, will be eliminated along the time by the organism and don’t ever return”, states Valéria Campos, dermatologist and member of the Laser Department of SBD (The Brazilian Society of Dermatology).
According to Valéria, 2-3 sessions are recommended, with an interval of 6 weeks between them.
And you know those thermal belts? They also work. But for better results, it’s recommended to wear them on a daily basis, together with belts or lotions that contribute to localized fat loss. It’s recommended to have them on for 30 minutes so that it’s effective.