Looking to lose belly fat?

Looking to lose belly fat?

If getting rid of belly fat is one of your goals for the New Year, re-booting the way you think about diet and exercise may be the key to your success in 2019.  Instead of counting calories, try paying closer attention to the number of insulin spikes you experience in a day.

To reduce belly fat, you have to reduce the number of insulin spikes your body experiences.

The body can only store fat when insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels – is present. Typically, insulin helps keep blood glucose levels stable by signaling the body to either use excess blood sugar or store it as fat. When the body secretes a lot of insulin to handle a surge in blood sugar, that is called an insulin spike.

Here are 9 tips to help you better manage insulin spikes:

1) Intermittent fasting (IF): When you don’t eat, your insulin won’t spike. Fasting stimulates the release of human growth hormone that protects lean muscle and helps you in the weight loss process. Skipping breakfast is an easy way to reap the benefits of fasting. However, I recommend speaking with your doctor to learn about appropriate ways to fast to reduce belly fat.

2) Eat a low-carb, high-fat iet (LCHF or Keto): Eating carbohydrates causes insulin spikes while eating fat does not –  it’s that simple. To start, try eating fewer than 50 carbs per day. If that isn’t effective, gradually reduce your daily carb consumption. Some of my patients consume 20 carbs daily to achieve their weight loss goals. When you eat LCHF, your body will eventually convert from using carbs as its fuel to burning fat (ketones). This results in burning body fat, even while you are sleeping. How cool is that? Consider using a carb manager app to help count your carbs.

3) Avoid sugar and grains: Watch those labels and realize that many grains, including quinoa (39 carbs per cup cooked) will cause insulin spikes. There are too many non-starchy options to make grains your go-to side dish.

4) Reduce stress: Stress increases cortisol, which reduces growth hormone and melatonin. Consider meditation (meditation apps), grateful journals, etc.

5) Increase sleep: Many research studies conclude that not getting enough sleep (between 7 and 8 hours) increases insulin resistance (diabetes) and obesity risks. Reduced sleep is stressful to your body, resulting in increased cortisol as mentioned above.

6) High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Be a sprinter, not a marathon runner. I do four sets of push-ups and squats, for example, every other morning, which only takes about 15 minutes. Research shows that if you want to increase growth hormone, IF and HIIT are among the most effective ways. Working on your core also helps.  Focus on your core with squats, dead-lifts, lunges and pull-ups. Consider skipping a day between work-outs, since the recovery phase is just as important as the actual exercise.

7) Supplement your diet with the following: MCT oil (1-3 teaspoons daily but gradually increase to avoid GI side effects), bone broths, Braggs apple cider vinegar, chromium, cinnamon, ginger and herbs.

8) Avoid snacking: Snacking causes insulin spikes. When you increase healthy fats in your diet, you won’t need to snack.

9) Check your medications: Some medications cause weight gain. Have a conversation with your doctor to determine if medications are behind your belly fat and the possibility of changing from weight-positive medications to those which are weight-neutral or weight-negative.

Keep in mind that your diet, sleep habits and stress reduction are more important than exercise. So, be sure to make exercise the last thing you focus on as you work toward your health goals, with the belly you’ve always wanted.

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Comments

8 Comments

  1. This is a fantastic article. I love that it provides actual concrete, actionable pieces of advice and doesn’t just repeat the trite “eat less, exercise more” line that is so ineffective. Thank you, I’ll give some of these things a shot!

  2. I liked the article. It was short to the point and it gave solid advice to achieve your desired goals. A must read for those who want results.

  3. Yeah, nice article. although it does completely contradict another article on this site recently. Other articles state fasting will cause the body to store fat. Skipping breakfast has ben stated to contrary to weight loss as is the most important meal of the day. Another recent article here railed against the Keto diet as any diet that isn’t well balanced is not good for your body let alone weight loss. Also healthy snacking is said to be helpful in weight loss and maintaining healthy insulin levels. So, this as with many article should be taken with a grain of salt….but only a grain! Too much salt isn’t good for you! 😉

  4. Rick, you are correct. There are so many contradictory articles that my patients are not sure if they should be eating Keto, low fat, etc.
    I advise my patients to know the source (who paid for the research, who were the researchers, etc to identify any bias). As a physician, I try to look at research as a skeptic so that I am willing to change my recommendations if the science changes. I ask my patients to do the same. One thing will say for sure. Since using this approach LCHF, fasting, etc., I take patients off medications on a regular basis including insulin. When I managed disease with medications without a focus on lifestyle, the results were fair at best. I will continue to review the literature but strongly feel that the recommendations stated in this article will change lives.

  5. I have lost 16 pounds following this approach since September. My wife has lost 10 pounds as we changed what we ate. I also cut out all artificial sweeteners which has made my morning coffee challenging but you get used to the changes you make and then it is the norm. As I spoke with my Doctor about this his simply reply was “yes…sugar is bad.”

  6. How do you come up with the 50 carb/day? 250lb man vs 115lb woman have different nutritional needs, but both should try to hit the same #’s?
    Kind of like the 2000 calorie/day that’s tossed around everywhere. That might be appropriate for the 115lb woman, the 250lb man would be way below even maintenance level calories.

  7. Tony Hampton, MD February 7, 2019 at 5:27 am · Reply

    Hi, Mike. When I studied with the American College of Obesity medicine, one of the principles they teach is that there are many factors that prevent us from achieving our ideal body weight: hormones (leptin, ghrelin), gut bacteria (Bacteroides, Firmicutes), diet type, etc. That’s why a calorie is not a calorie. It depends on the quality of that calorie and how you body utilizes it. For example, 1000 calories of a cake will impact your body differently than 1000 calories of broccoli. That’s why most Board Certified Obesity Medicine doctors like myself advice patients to count carbs (excessive carbs are stored as fat) and not calories.
    In terms of carbs, in order for most of us to get into ketosis allowing our bodies to burn fat as our fuel source, we need to get our carbs under 50 grams in most cases. So I suggest, experimenting with the numbers to see which range works best for you. Restricting calories works for any meal plan. The question is rather that meal plan is sustainable. My experience with my patients is that the low carb high fat diet is the easiest to sustain while the low fat diet is one of the hardest. I do have vegetarians, low fat, and other meal plan patients in my practice and feel we all should do what works best for the individual.

  8. Andrea Pfaffl May 1, 2019 at 3:00 pm · Reply

    Dr. Hampton – Would you be willing to do a Grand Rounds at AdvocateAurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Wisconsin on the topic of a physician implementing lifestyle changes with patients? I want our physicians to hear this from another physician who is leading the way. I am a huge advocate for Lifestyle Medicine practice outside of our organization. I am trying to bring it inside so it becomes our normal way of thinking. We know how effective it is and we know it is the right thing to do for our patients. It’s time to implement it, and it must begin with the physicians. Please contact me at andrea.pfaffl@aurora.org

    Thank you!

About the Author

Dr. Tony Hampton
Dr. Tony Hampton

Dr. Tony Hampton, MBA, CPE is Board Certified in Obesity Medicine and Family Medicine. He currently is the physician lead for Advocate's Healthy Living Program as well as Regional Medical Director for the South Region of Advocate's Medical Group. He is an inspirational public speaker, blogger, coach, and has authored a book entitled Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Diabetes. He has led multiple programs and works with AdvocateAurora to coach patients on their journey to achieve their health care goals by balancing nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, increased sleep, and needed medical interventions. He believes that a shift is needed in healthcare where we all work together focus on prevention and wellness. He is married and a father of two college-aged boys.