It’s likely you’ve heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”. But even if you are just looking to reduce belly fat, this saying holds true too.
First, let’s talk about why many people store weight in their abdomen. Of course, your body type plays a role. However, many of us actually are prone to holding weight in our abdominal area because of stress, and our increased intake of refined sugars.
As a defense mechanism, our bodies store fat around our abdomen when we are stressed. Based on the activities of our ancestors, you were generally under stress when you were put into fight or flight mode, like being chased by a bear, or hunting your dinner.
By cushioning our abdominal area with an extra layer, our internal organs are better protected in case of impact. However, we can also mimic this stress, or store fat based on certain foods that we eat, that either increase our cortisol, or turn into fat cells rather than used for energy or muscle recovery.
Here are 4 foods you should avoid to reduce belly fat:
1. Refined sugar
Refined sugar is made up of both fructose and glucose. Glucose is a naturally metabolized sugar, needed for energy in the body. However fructose can cause a host of issues, all resulting in the storage of fat around the abdomen.
First, fructose is metabolized by the liver and turned into fat cells which are secreted through the blood. Alongside this, when we consume any kind of carbohydrate it increases our blood glucose levels. We then call on insulin to help balance these levels. Insulin is also responsible for signalling to our fat cells that it needs to pick up more fat from the bloodstream on it’s way and store it.
Second, fructose can also make us resistant to the hormone leptin, which is our satiety hormone. Basically, this hormone tells us that we have enough fat stored in our body and we don’t need to consume more food. However, when we’ve become resistant to it, our body doesn’t really know when it’s time to stop.
What are some of the major culprits to avoid?
Sugary drinks, including fruit juice and pop
White breads and pastas
Candy and milk/white chocolate
Many granola bars
Premade/frozen dinners and foods
Check out this article for foods that can help reduce sugar cravings.
Part of this goes under the refined sugar category - especially when we’re talking about consuming coolers, liqueurs and mixed drinks.
However there’s another part to alcohol that many of us don’t look to: our liver. Our liver is our major detoxification organ, and when it can’t do its job properly, it can store sugars as fat more readily, and cause an increase in hormones that can cause fat storage. Check out this article for more on liver detoxification.
3. Deep fried foods
Calories still do matter, and deep fried anything is going to pack a caloric punch. This includes chips, french fries, and anything you’ll likely find at a fast food chain.
Not only are these foods high in calories, but many times restaurants, and food manufacturers will re-use the oils for frying. This constant use of oils makes them toxic for consumption and laden with carcinogens. These carcinogens are responsible for free radical damage within our bodies.
4. Inflammatory foods
When our body is protecting itself, it can become inflamed: puffy, sore, swollen, achy, etc. This can make us look as though we have a lot of belly fat, even without actually storing fat on our bodies. Some of the main culprits of inflammation in our bodies are:
Processed meats and snack foods
Vegetable and soybean oils
While abs are made in the kitchen, it is still important to add in physical exercise each day to help reduce weight around your stomach - especially weight-bearing exercises and HIIT, that can help reduce weight without causing a spike in your cortisol!