Many people, at least in America, are under the impression that the way to shrink their beer gut is by doing lots and lots of sit-ups. They have the idea that sit-ups are the “magic cure” for any obesity around the midsection.
Unfortunately, for them, however, that is not the case. Sit-ups are a great exercise, and they are one exercise that can help strengthen the torso muscles in the body. They are not, however, the solution to weight around the midsection because they do not address the overall cause of the problem.
Many different methods to shrink the gut exist, but all the methods will basically come down to diet and exercise as the core of those methods. Dr. Mercola writes,
“Your diet is really the key to your success. All your exercise habits may be fruitless if you eat loads of processed foods, too many net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber) and the wrong kinds of fats. Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, is quoted in Health.com, saying:
‘Refined grains like white bread, crackers and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies. Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat.'”
He also notes:
“Research shows that calories gleaned from bread, refined sugars and processed foods promote overeating, whereas calories from whole vegetables, protein and fiber decrease hunger.”
An interesting issue to note about diet choices is that a diet high in sugars actually promotes a resistance to both insulin (pre-diabetes or diabetes) and to leptin. Leptin is especially important in our discussion because your body uses leptin to know when to burn fat and to know when you are full (i.e. when to stop eating). Dr. Mercola writes,
“As you cut down on net carbs, you need to replace them with healthy fats like grass-fed butter, olives and olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, raw nuts and pastured eggs. Once your body is well-adapted to burning fat as its primary fuel, it becomes very efficient at burning calories derived from fat.
“My diet is 75 to 80 percent fat and I eat approximately 3,500 calories a day. That’s well over the conventional recommendation of 2,400 to 2,800 for an active man of my age.9However, I burn fat so efficiently, if I go below 3,500 calories a day, I lose weight.
“If you currently burn sugar as your primary fuel, then rapidly and significantly increasing your healthy fat intake may not be beneficial and could result in weight gain. Your body simply isn’t adapted to burning all that fat yet, and fat is very high in calories.
“So go slow, and remember that one of the keys to making this metabolic switchover is to dramatically cut your sugar consumption. As long as you’re giving your body sugar, it will use that first. Intermittent fasting can speed up your body’s transition from burning sugar to burning fat as your primary fuel. You can also combine intermittent fasting with high-intensity interval training, (HIIT) which tends to be very effective for fat loss.”
Remember that, while you do want to alter your diet to a diet focused on burning fat instead of sugar, exercise is also an important component in reducing the size a person’s midsection. (For more information on exercise, please see these other two articles on our website here and here.)
So, if you want to lose that midsection, lower your sugar and sugary food intake, increase your fat intake, and ramp up your exercise with the right types of exercise. Your midsection will thank you.