In our guide to losing belly fat we touched on the dietary changes that are required to get a flat stomach, i.e. eliminating all junk food, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and late night snacks. Now we shall look in more detail at the foods that can be eaten while losing stomach fat.
These three rules are still the key part of the flat belly diet. Generally the type of food which can be consumed on the Flat Belly Diet are low GI foods and foods with high protein and low saturated fat content.
It is essential to maintain protein intake during any diet as we require protein to repair and grow muscle tissues and other cells, and it is especially important when exercising.
A lack of protein while dieting is one of the most common causes for weight loss failure. Protein deficiency leads to muscle wastage, which leads to increase lethargy and decreased metabolism.
Flat Belly Diet Rule 1 – No More Junk Food
Junk food by definition is full of everything that is bad for us in excess. Saturated fat, sugar and salt. Just by eliminating junk food from our lives we can make an immediate impact on the way we look and feel.
Junk food is generally either comfort food or convenience for most people. So the key to stopping eating junk food is to find alternatives.
The best alternatives are natural foods that also contain high sugar content (great for energy) such as fruits and nuts. Some suggestions are given below.
It important to remember that junk food covers a wide range of foods, and is not limited to just take away meals such as hamburgers and deep fried chicken, but also includes chocolates, candy, chips (crisps), soft sugar drinks, any deep fried snacks (samosas etc.), pastries, cakes and biscuits.
One important principal is to avoid all “empty carbs” which covers most junk food. Empty carbs are simply carbohydrates which provide energy but have little nutritional benefit. Bread, baked good, pasta, rice – all are empty carbs to a varying degree. Colourful fruits and vegetables on the other hand are full of a variety of nutrients.
Replace Your Usual Junk Food Snacks
We all feel the need to snack in between meals, this is perfectly normal. If you plan your meals well then you can make healthy snacking a part of a well balanced diet.
So rather than try to avoid snacks altogether, which could leave you feeling tired and irritable (as well as hungry) you should make an effort to replace your usual sugary snacks with something healthy. Here are some options:
- Dried Apricots
- Brazil nuts
So long as it is healthy, which in this case meas not processed and containing no added sugar, then a snack is OK. If you are working out a lot then you may need some added protein, so cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs or a whey protein drink can also be used as a snack.
Flat Belly Diet Rule 2 – Ditch the Booze
This is a tough one for most people, but if you are serious about losing weight, then at least cutting back on alcohol is vital.
Many people forget that alcohol is a form of energy, which means each drink adds to your daily calorie intake, which makes losing weight harder. The body will always process alcohol first, before any of the food that is eaten, and therefore use the energy first.
This means that alcohol will contribute to your metabolism and that any energy in the food eaten will simply be surplus, this leading to weight gain.
Treat yourself to a few glasses of wine at the weekend, but stay dry during the week, and this will really help to lose weight.
Flat Belly Diet Rule 3 – Avoid Refined Carbohydrates & High GI Food
Refined carbohydrates really fall under the banner of “junk food” in that refined flours are all energy and no nutrition, which is why cakes, biscuits and pastries are all on the disallowed foods list in the Flat Belly Diet.
The GI scale of foods is a relatively new way to categorize which foods contain relatively high sugar levels, and this is an effective method to create a weight loss diet.
Sugar is one of the biggest causes of weight gain and obesity. Many people automatically think that dietary fat is only the problem, but if this the case, then why have Diet Coke? Coke has not fat to start with, it is all sugar!
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale of the speed at which certain foods break down and release glucose into blood. Pure sugar is absorbed the fastest and is rated as 100 on the scale. All other foods are given a comparative score based on the rate at which the sugar they contain is absorbed into the blood.
High GI foods release glucose quickly, whereas low GI foods release slow. A slow release of glucose prevent the sugar highs and subsequent crashes, which helps to prevent binge eating and snacking. Generally low GI foods are those with a GI score of less than 55.
Why is this important? When sugar enters the blood the body releases the hormone insulin. The role of insulin is to regulate blood sugar levels, as high blood sugar is dangerous to health. To regulate blood sugar insulin facilitates the uptake of glycogen (glucose is converted to glycogen in the liver) into fat cells to be stored as TAGs (glycerols and fatty acids).
Various chemical processes occur in the liver, but basically sugar eaten is either used as energy or if there is an excess it is stored in the muscles, then liver, and finally in fat cells. By controlling blood sugar levels you control insulin which reduces the storage of sugar as fat.
Foods allowed in the Flat Belly Diet consist of:
- Most fruit and vegetables (except root vegetables, potatoes, watermelon which are high GI)
- Grainy breads
- Whole wheat Pasta (do not overcook as this increases its GI score)
- Legumes /pulses
- Anything extremely low in carbohydrates – fish, eggs, meat, nuts, oils
- Brown rice
One food group that is often overlooked in the west is legumes / beans (pulses). One of the best low carb / low GI foods that also boosts metabolism is a chilli con carne – lots of nutritious beans, lean meat and spice.
If it is made with a variety of legumes, such as kidney beans, black eye beans (aka black-eyed peas), chickpeas and mung beans, with tomato sauce, lean meat (pork or beef) and some chilli peppers, it forms a meal high in protein, low in carbs and very healthy too. Plus the chillies boost metabolism further, making it a perfect fat burning meal.
Flat Belly Diet Rule 4 – Boost Your Metabolism
Some foods actually give us a metabolic boost, which simply means that they help our bodies to burn energy quicker. The most famous of these is the fiery chilli pepper (which makes a low GI chilli such a good option) but there are many others, including salmon, soups, yoghurt, whey protein, grapefruits and cottage cheese.
Making meals based on these foods is a great way to help to flatten the tummy. Simple meals such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon are great way to lose weight!
As with any diet, there is more to it than just following a few simple rules. It is still possible to over eat on a healthy diet.
Exercise is also still essential for maintaining a fit and healthy body – and it is also the easiest way to flatten the tummy.
However, diet is equally important, and regular exercise with a healthy diet aimed at reducing body fat is the best way to lose weight.
Many people ask “what is the best exercise the lose stomach fat?”. The answer is simply that there is not “best exercise”. To lose stomach fat you must use more calories each day than you consume. Exercise simply makes this easier. How?
The 5 Ways Exercise Aids Weight Loss
We shall go into this in more detail later, but for now know that exercise aids loss in several ways:
- When exercising more energy is used – more calories consumed
- After exercise the body raises metabolism to speed up the supply of nutrients to muscles for repair and growth – increase fat bunring
- During exercise the hormone PYY is release which suppresses hunger
- If you exercise often you become generally more active and less lethargic, meaning more fat burning.
- When you are exercising you cannot be eating!
The last point may seem a little silly but it really does work. Many people come home from work and then relax and eat.
Simply by doing an exercise class several times a week you take up a lot of time and your mind is taken off food, so you are less likely to eat food when you do not need it. Boredom is often one of the major causes of overeating, so do not allow yourself to get bored.
We hope that this advice proves useful to you. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask below, we are on hand to reply every day.