It's the engine room of your individual starship, your never-ending calorie burn. And while you may imagine that the majority of your calories get burned while you're engaged in some strenuous activity like riding a bike, diving into a pool or getting jiggy with your honey, you're actually burning most of your calories, well, just keeping the lights on.
Belly fat is is different from fat elsewhere in your body. The extra weight some people carry around their waists, arms, and love handles isn’t the same — that’s subcutaneous fat, which sits beneath the skin and is relatively harmless, according to Harvard Medical School. The stuff in your belly, visceral fat, lodges deeper down, around your abdominal organs. It's metabolically active tissue that actually functions like a separate organ, releasing substances into the rest of your body that, in excess, can increase your risk of disease.
First off, insulin is one of the most anabolic/anti-catabolic hormones in the human body. Insulin binds with the muscle cell membrane that triggers an onslaught reactions that lead to growth. From an anti-catabolic standpoint insulin keeps the catabolic hormone cortisol at bay. One of cortisol functions is to breakdown proteins (muscle tissue) and convert it to energy. When insulin levels are high cortisol levels are lower. This is the primary anti-catabolic power of insulin.
Plus, a 2013 study from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that skipping sleep makes your brain's reward zone react to fatty and sugary treats way more enthusiastically. What's more, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who didn't get enough sleep ate an average of 385 extra calories that day. In short, more sleep = less calories in your mouth and less fat on your body.
In October, I heard about the FWTFL Program through my high school friend, Beth Chappo. I had been doing CrossFit for over two years and felt stronger, but I was seeing no change in my body. My problem area was weight around my mid-section. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my son, therefore I am more prone to later develop diabetes later on in life. I knew I had to get rid of my belly fat in order to prevent this from occurring. I told my husband about the program and said I am going to sign up and do this. I don’t think he believed that I would follow through with the program (especially during the holiday season).
‘Do it for a couple of minutes in bed and you’ll actually be able to wind down and fall asleep more easily. But it’s a skill, so it requires a commitment to practice it, as with anything. Think of it a bit like dating – the first time you do it it’s terrible, it’s uncomfortable, nobody knows what they’re doing, but the more dates you go on the better it gets.
Of course, it's not always easy to find—or afford—organic produce. But in general, conventionally grown items that you peel—avocado, grapefruit, bananas—are fine. But choose organic when buying celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale and collard greens, cherries, potatoes, and imported grapes; they tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
The easiest way to cut calories? Eliminate excess dietary fat—meaning no butter, oils, or salad dressings (low-fat or fat-free dressings are OK); remove the skin from chicken; substitute egg whites for most of your whole eggs; avoid whole-milk dairy products; and ditch marbled red meats such as rib-eye for lean cuts such as flank. Keep some healthy fats in your diet, such as salmon, mixed nuts, peanut butter, and avocados.
Build more muscle: Cardio gets all the glory for melting fat, but it’s actually far more important to focus on building muscle. It’s pretty simple: Lipolysis happens in the mitochondria of the muscles, so the more muscle you have, the more mitochondria, and the more potential to burn. Plus, the more muscle mass you carry, the more your BMR is burning calories at rest. Strength training is also one of the strongest ways to spark production of testosterone and growth hormone, which both help to break down fat, Seedman adds.