You don’t need a complicated belly fat weight-loss plan to shed kilograms. Instead, live by these seven simple and straightforward rules…
1. Read food labels
You should read food labels like you read your Facebook feed – closely. Then abide by the rule of five: If any food has any one of the five ingredients below as any one of the first five ingredients on the label, don’t let it near your mouth.
1. Simple sugars
2. Enriched, bleached, or refined flour (this means it’s stripped of its nutrients)
3. HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup – a four-letter word)
4. Saturated fat (four-legged animal fat, or palm or coconut oil)
5. Trans fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil)
Putting them into your body is like dunking your cellphone in a glass of water. It’ll cause your system to short out your hormones and send your body confusing messages about eating. When typical slightly overweight people eat sugar, they on average store 5% percent as ready energy to use later, metabolise 60%, and store a whopping 35% as fat that can be converted to energy later. Any guess as to where 50% of the sugar we consume comes from? HFCS in fat-free foods like salad dressings and regular soft drinks.
2. Choose unsaturated fat over saturated
Meals high in saturated fat (that’s one of the ageing fats) produce lower levels of leptin than low-fat meals with the exact same kilojoules. That indicates you can increase your satiety and decrease hunger levels by avoiding saturated fats found in such sources as high-fat meats (like sausage), baked goods and whole-milk dairy products.
3. Quench your thirst (don't feed it!)
The reason some people eat is because their satiety centres are begging for attention. But sometimes those appetite centres want things to quench thirst, not to fill the stomach. Thirst could be caused by hormones in the gut, or it could be a chemical response to eating; eating food increases the thickness of your blood, and your body senses the need to dilute it.
A great way to counteract your hormonal reaction to food is to make sure that your response to thirst activation doesn’t contain unnecessary, empty kilojoules – like the ones in soft drinks or alcohol. Your thirst centre doesn’t care whether it’s getting zero-kilojoule water or a mega-kilojoule frappe. So when you feel hungry, drink a glass or two of water first, to see if that’s really what your body wants!
4. Limit your alcohol intake
For weight loss, avoid drinking excessive alcohol, not solely because of its own kilojoules, but also because of the kilojoules it inspires you to consume later. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, so you end up feeling like you can eat anything and everything you see. Limiting yourself to one alcoholic drink a day has a protective effect on your arteries but could still cost you kilos, since it inhibits leptin.
5. Eat the right kind of carbs
Eating a super-high-carb diet increases a protein called neuropeptide Y (NPY), which decreases your metabolism and increases your appetite. Ensure that less than 50% of your diet comes from carbohydrates, and that most of your carbs are complex, such as whole grains and vegetables (not processed snack foods and baked goods).
6. Have more sex
In any waist management plan, you can stay satisfied. Not in the form of a dripping double cheeseburger but in the form of safe, healthy, monogamous sex. Sex and hunger are regulated through the brain chemical NPY. Some have observed that having healthy sex could help you control your food intake; by satisfying one appetite centre, you seem to satisfy the other.
7. Get a step ahead of your cravings
There will be times when you can’t always control your hormone levels, and you feel hungrier than a lion on a bug-only diet. Develop a list of emergency foods to satisfy you when cravings get the best of you – things like a handful of nuts, pieces of fruit, cut-up vegetables, or even a little guacamole.
This article originally appeared on www.womenshealthsa.co.za.
Image credits: iStock