How to Lose Belly Fat: A 3-Step Strategy

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When I owned a woman’s gym franchise, I often had new clients come in, grab hold of their excess belly fat, give it a shake and say “show me an exercise to get rid of this”.   It’s funny to think about how many people did the exact same thing.  Losing belly fat is definitely an issue for many people.  There is a solution but it doesn’t come from doing one specific exercise.

You will not lose belly fat by doing a hundred sit-ups.  I can not recommend a magical exercise that will make that belly fat vanish.  But I can develop a workout program to strengthen your core and define your abdominal muscles and I can give you a 3-step strategy that will help make that belly fat melt away.    

Step One – Exercise – the RIGHT way!

Any exercise is good but to target belly fat and see rapid results, the type of workout will make a big difference.  A 12-week Skidmore College study found that exercisers who did a high-intensity total-body resistance routine combined with cardio lost more than 4 times as much belly fat, compared with cardio-only exercisers.   Another report in the Journal of Sports Science found that aerobic training combined with resistance training was much more effective at decreasing fat compared to just aerobic training.

High-Intensity Training is the ultimate form of exercise in order to lose belly fat.  There is a powerful effect on your metabolism that makes your become a “fat-burning machine”

MORE:  Read this article on how High-Intensity Training can burn 900% more fat than traditional aerobic training

In order to lose belly fat we need to start a plan that incorporates daily HIIT workouts.  The best part about HIIT training is that your workouts can be short because they are so intense.  A beginner exerciser or an advanced athlete can all participate in HIIT training because the intensity is measured by your perceived exertion.

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Check out my YouTube Channel for a 2 Week Tone Up Program!! There are 14 Ten Minute High-Intensity Workout Videos combining cardio & resistance training with NO EQUIPMENT required!

Step Two – Eat More Fat & Fibre

Fat is not the enemy.  We need good fats in our diets to maintain optimal health and lose belly fat.  The unhealthy fats that we need to avoid are the trans fats (like the partially nuts-lose-belly-fathydrogenated fats found in some peanut butter, granola bars, cookies etc) and some saturated fats (that come from animal products).  We want our diets to include unsaturated fats (such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, wild-caught fish, nuts, seeds etc) and the saturated fats from coconut oil.  Healthy fats will reduce cravings and give our bodies nutrient-dense satiating foods that will help reduce daily caloric intake and lose belly fat.

High fibre foods like vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains keep us full longer and reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods.  When choosing grains at the grocery store, opt for “whole grains” instead of “enriched flour”.  Enriched flour has been striped of the healthy nutrients and fibre.  A study from Penn State showed that dieters who ate whole grains lost twice as much belly fat as those who ate refined carbohydrates.

Why do we store fat?:

We store fat when there is too much glucose (sugar) in our bloodstream.  When we eat food (especially when we eat sugar and processed carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, cookies etc) our body breaks it down into glucose and fills our glycogen stores for energy.  When there is too much glucose, it gets stored as fat. 

Eating more fat and fibre helps us eat less sugar and refined carbohydrates.  This results in less fat being stored and losing our belly fat.

MORE:  Read this article about healthy fat & fibre ingredients to make Superfood Smoothies

Step Three – Drink Green Tea

A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that exercisers who drank the equivalent green-tea-lose-belly-fatof about 4 cups of green tea a day for 12 weeks lost over 8 times more ab fat than those who drank an ordinary caffeinated beverage.  This is because green tea contains EGCG’s which accelerate fat-burning.  These EGCG’s are also powerful antioxidants which fight free radicals and help prevent diseases like cancer.  There are many terrific health benefits to green tea besides reducing belly fat.

This 3-step strategy for losing belly fat is simple but not necessarily easy.  It requires commitment to your goal.  I have one word of advice.  Be patient.  Nothing ever happens overnight.  Fat is stubborn.  If there is an area of your body where you want to lose fat the most, it will probably be the last place you lose it.  I say this from experience from working with many women as they tackled their trouble zones.

Take baby steps and be consistent, that is most important.  If you mess up and eat an entire box of cookies – don’t beat yourself up.  Tell yourself that the next choice you make will be a healthy one.  Don’t wait to “start fresh on Monday”.  Start in the next minute after you had your moment of weakness.  You can do it!

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Superfood Smoothies: Easy Ingredients & A Guide To Make Your Own Recipe

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A superfood is defined as a nutrient-rich food that is very good for your health and well-being and it may even help some medical conditions.   A superfood smoothie is an easy way to get so many of these foods all at once. 

Superfood smoothies can be delicious but I have one tip for you that makes a big difference.  Your blender!!!  You need to use a good blender otherwise you will be chewing your smoothie instead of drinking it!  

I recommend either the Blendtec or the Vitamix.  There is also a new blender that came out on the market last year.  It is the Salton Harley Pasternak blender which I have heard is equal to the Vitamix and Blendtec but at a significantly lower price.  I have not used it myself but I have used both the Blendtec and Vitamix and honestly, once you have it you will wonder how you ever managed without it.  They are expensive but totally worth it.  Making smoothies is just one of the many things you can do with them.

SIX SIMPLE SUPERFOOD INGREDIENTS AND WHY THEY ARE SO SUPER

Coconut Water

  • A serving of coconut water has more potassium than 4 bananas! 
  • Potassium plays a key role in blood pressure, digestion and muscular function
  • It is super hydrating because it contains many electrolytes. 
  • It is often referred to as “Mother Nature’s sports drink”

Chia

  • great source of fibre
  • high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein which are all essential for bone health
  • source of omega 3’s – healthy fats
  • great source of antioxidants which fight free radical damage

SIDE NOTE about FREE RADICALS

Free radicals occurs in our bodies as part of our daily metabolic function.  They cause oxidative stress and damage to our cells which results in aging and disease.  Antioxidants counteract the damage from free radicals.  They are the key to good health and another reason why these superfoods are so important!

Hemp

  • great source of plant protein because it is complete (contains all 8 essential amino acids)
  • hemp hearts or shelled hemp seeds are not a source of fibre (the fibre comes from the shell)
  • another interesting note is that hemp hearts should be refrigerated – check your packaging
  • they are a great source of healthy fats

Berries

  • amazing source of a variety of antioxidants
  • high fibre content
  • frozen berries are equally as healthy as fresh berries

Avocado

  • high in potassium (higher than a banana)
  • high in fibre
  • high in healthy fats which are essential for our bodies and aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) – a great reason to add avocado into your salads as well as smoothies so it will help your body absorb essential vitamins

Kale

  • very rich in Vitamins A, K & C.  One cup of kale has more Vit C than an orange.  Vitamin C is critical for so many functions in our body including the synthesis of collagen – goodbye wrinkles!
  • loaded with antioxidants
  • high in potassium, magnesium and calcium

 

Here are a couple recipes for you and then you can experiment to make your own recipe with the How-To Guide below.

Natasha’s Tropical Smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1 generous cup of frozen pineapple & mango
  • Big handful of Kale
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3 Tbsp Hemp Hearts
  • 1 Tbsp Chia
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp raw coconut butter

 

Black Forest Protein Smoothie

source: Katie Hammill
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries or cherries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup spinach or kale
  • 2 tsp raw cocoa
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp avocado
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey or maple syrup (optional)

 

How to make your own Green Superfood Smoothie Recipe

  • Step 1: Start with 1-2 cups of liquid – coconut water or dairy or non-dairy milk
  • Step 2: Add 1-2 cups frozen fruit
  • Step 3: Add 1-6 Tbsp super foods – avocado, hemp or chia
  • Step 4: Add 1-2 cups leafy greens
  • Step 5: Option to add 1/2-1 scoop of protein powder
  • Step 6: Add ice and blend

Happy Blending!!

Natasha

Kitchen Audit – 15 Foods to Eliminate

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Getting rid of the tempting foods that are in our kitchen is a great way to maintain our weight loss goals over the summer

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables and beans.  Carbs are broken down into glucose which is the main form of energy for our body and brain.                                                     

Carbs to Keep in Your Kitchen

  • Vegetables – lots and lots of veggies!!!  You can never eat too much!
  • Fruit – summer is a perfect season for fresh delicious fruit!
  • Beans (such as kidney beans, black beans, navy beans and chickpeas)
  • Whole Grains (such as quinoa, oatmeal, kamut or spelt pasta, brown rice and whole-grain breads)
    • Whole-grain bread is made from the entire grain kernel – the bran, the germ and the endosperm.  Refined grains only contain the endosperm.  It is important to have all 3 parts of the kernel.  The bran contains fibre, B vitamins and minerals.  The germ contains anti-oxidants, and Vitamins E and B.   Research has shown that eating the entire grain has numerous health benefits such as lowering the risk of cancer, digestive diseases, heart-disease, diabetes and obesity.
    • Try SPROUTED grains.  Sprouted grain bread is “live” bread made with sprouted whole kernel grains that are mashed into dough.  This results in a bread that is rich in minerals, vitamins, active enzymes and lignans (which protect against heart disease and cancer).  The sprouting process also reduces the starch in the grain and therefore lowers the glycemic index of the bread.

Kitchen Audit – Carbs to Eliminate from your Kitchen

  1. Sugary Cereals (avoid cereals that contain less than 5g of fibre and more than 10g of sugar)
  2. Cookies, refined crackers, muffins, cakes, candy
  3. White or Fortified bread (Fortification occurs with refined grains.  Manufacturers are sometimes required to fortify refined grains products to make up for the loss of vitamin)
  4. Sticky rice, white rice and even wild rice all have a high glycemic index and spike your insulin levels
  5. Sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, juice
  6. Surprisingly brown rice pasta has the highest glycemic index of all the pastas so you will probably want to avoid or minimize it

Protein

Protein is required for repair and replenishment of our bodies.  Our muscles, skin, hair and connective tissue are made up of protein.  Protein is also involved in many of the body’s important chemical messengers such as enzymes, neurotransmitters and hormones.  Protein can be either complete – meaning it contains all 9 amino acids (there are 20 amino acids and our body can make 11 of them but 9 of them our body must consume) or incomplete – meaning it contains some of the 9 amino acids.

Proteins to keep in your Kitchen

  • Beans (black, lentils, chickpeas – yes they contain both protein and carbs)
  • Quinoa
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Fish and seafood
  • Beef and pork (eat sparingly like once per week because it causes inflammation & acidity)
  • Eggs
  • Tofu and Tempeh
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Protein powder
  • Low fat cheese and yogurt
  • Hemp products

Kitchen Audit – Proteins to Eliminate from your Kitchen

  1. Flavoured, sugary yogurt
  2. Fatty red meat
  3. Full fat cheeses
  4. Luncheon meats or prepackaged meats because they contain nitrates and many chemicals

Fat

Fats are a necessary part of our diet.  Fats are important for brain development, weight loss, energy levels, anti-inflammatory function and the protection against heart disease and stroke – just to name a few things!  The type of fat we eat is what matters. We want to reduce/eliminate trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats.  Fat is very calorie dense (it has twice as many calories per gram as protein and carbs) so keep that in mind when adding it into your meals.

Fat to keep in your kitchen

  • Coconut butter, oil and milk
  • Nuts and nut butters and nut milks
  • Fish
  • Avocados
  • Seeds and seed butters
  • Hemp, chia and flaxseed
  • Olive oil and olives
  • Grapeseed oil (great for cooking because it has a high heat tolerance and not a strong flavour)

Kitchen Audit – Fats to Eliminate from your Kitchen

  1. Deep Fried Foods
  2. Chips
  3. Anything with partially hydrogenated oils
  4. Anything with trans fats
  5. Ice Cream

 

If the bad foods are not in our house then we won’t be tempted to eat them.  Of course it’s not always easy when other people living with us don’t have the same goals.  One simple trick is to buy food for your family that you don’t like.  For instance I love chips but if I buy Doritos instead, no problem resisting them because I don’t like them!!

Here’s to healthy summer eating!!

Cheers,

Natasha