Will You Ever See Your Abs? REPOST

real fat man

One of the most common questions I get from people is how to lose belly fat and get defined abs. Since a tight midsection is one of the most enviable and desirable body attributes, I am never surprised by these inquiries. I have noticed that there is a relatively common misconception that defined abs come solely from exercise, which is definitely not the case. While a certain amount of development in the abdominal muscles must be present for the washboard appearance which many people covet, an individual’s food choices often interfere with the quest for six-pack abs.

If you really want to see abdominal definition, you need to eliminate the following foods from your diet:

SUGAR
Processed foods (including crackers, luncheon meats, cheese, chips, breads)
Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, fast foods)
Salad dressing
Alcohol

Though it may be difficult at first to eliminate the foods listed, you will notice over time that your palate will adjust and that food cravings will subside. That’s because processed foods and sugar set up a vicious cycle in which you crave more bad foods when you consume them. Cut them out of your meal plan, and your cravings will subside. Another benefit of avoiding these foods is that you will avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which they trigger. Why is this important? Because sharp spikes in insulin release promote increased fat deposition in the midsection.

Another dramatic change which you need to make is to drink plenty of water daily. My general rule is to buy an attractive 1 liter bottle, fill it 3 times during the course of a day, and drink all the water you put in that container.

If your abdominal muscles haven’t seen a sit-up in years, you should also incorporate abdominal exercises into your regimen. Here are my three favorite abdominal exercises which work for everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes:

bicycle crunches
Katie-Bicycle-Crunches
ball crunches
basic-crunches-on-stability-ball
planks
Plank-1024x538

If you are consistent with making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise, chances are good that you will see a toned tummy if you are already at a normal weight. If you are overweight, the healthier food choices will help you to slim down and get rid of belly fat, putting you on course for a tighter midsection.

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Will You Ever See Your Abs?

real fat man

One of the most common questions I get from people is how to lose belly fat and get defined abs. Since a tight midsection is one of the most enviable and desirable body attributes, I am never surprised by these inquiries. I have noticed that there is a relatively common misconception that defined abs come solely from exercise, which is definitely not the case. While a certain amount of development in the abdominal muscles must be present for the washboard appearance which many people covet, an individual’s food choices often interfere with the quest for six-pack abs.

If you really want to see abdominal definition, you need to eliminate the following foods from your diet:

SUGAR
Processed foods (including crackers, luncheon meats, cheese, chips, breads)
Foods high in saturated fat (red meat, fast foods)
Salad dressing
Alcohol

Though it may be difficult at first to eliminate the foods listed, you will notice over time that your palate will adjust and that food cravings will subside. That’s because processed foods and sugar set up a vicious cycle in which you crave more bad foods when you consume them. Cut them out of your meal plan, and your cravings will subside. Another benefit of avoiding these foods is that you will avoid the rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which they trigger. Why is this important? Because sharp spikes in insulin release promote increased fat deposition in the midsection.

If your abdominal muscles haven’t seen a sit-up in years, you should also incorporate abdominal exercises into your regimen. Here are my three favorite abdominal exercises which work for everyone, from beginners to advanced athletes:

bicycle crunches
Katie-Bicycle-Crunches
ball crunches
basic-crunches-on-stability-ball
planks
Plank-1024x538

If you are consistent with making healthy food choices and getting regular exercise, chances are good that you will see a toned tummy if you are already at a normal weight. If you are overweight, the healthier food choices will help you to slim down and get rid of belly fat, putting you on course for a tighter midsection.

How Emotional Eating Can Derail You From Your Fitness Goals

emotional-eating ice cream - Copy

Rather than discuss well-known emotional eating disorders such as bulimia, I will concentrate on binge eating which many women engage in from time to time.  It is important to recognize this behavior if it becomes a regular pattern, because frequent emotional eating warrants a diagnosis of binge eating disorder and requires treatment and intervention.

Binge eating is characterized by eating compulsively to cope with negative emotions and stressful situations.  A binge eater is rarely hungry when she begins to eat and will continue to eat well after she is full.  Such episodes can last for up to two hours or can occur off and on throughout the day.  The binger feels guilty both during and after the episode, but will not attempt to counteract it by fasting, taking laxatives, vomiting, fasting or over-exercising.  A strong lack of self-control as well as feelings of shame will accompany this behavior pattern.  There is a strong association between binge eating and depression.  Binge eating is also driven by social components such as social pressure to be thin, emotional and sexual abuse, parental criticism of a child’s weight, and the use of food as reward or punishment.

Food cravings are usually the strongest when you are in emotional crisis.  You may reach for food for comfort or to serve as a distraction.  Consider the following highly stressful events and think about whether you reached for comfort foods during such times:

  • Financial problems
  • Health problems
  • Work issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Fatigue
  • Family issues

Though some people will lose their appetites when stressed and will refrain from eating, many others will engage in impulsive eating in an effort to deal with negative emotions.  This may be relatively harmless if such emotional eating occurs on a very rare occasion, but becomes a serious problem when it is used as the only coping mechanism for stressful situations or negative emotions.  Just bear in mind that if you have a rare moment of weakness, it is important to recognize it as just that and to prevent yourself from spiraling into excessive feelings of guilt over the incident.  If you engage in an episode of emotional eating, learn to forgive yourself and have a fresh start the following day.

 
Why We Engage in Emotional Eating

 

What occurs almost invariably when we eat emotionally is that we turn to cookies, cakes, candy, fried foods and breads rather than to healthy foods.  There is a biochemical basis for such behavior.  Carbohydrates which are high in sugar or fat release dopamine in our brains which in turn stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, creating a sense of euphoria.  These foods are usually associated with pleasurable memories, such as cake which you may have looked forward to on your birthday, or macaroni and cheese as a treat after school when you were a child.

 

Food can also serve as a happy distraction from conflict or stressful events by stimulating the aforementioned pleasure centers.  What will frequently occur is that an excessive amount of these foods will be consumed.  However, if you remain aware of such automatic connections between food and mood and realize when you are eating for reasons other than hunger, you can break this cycle and get back on track with healthy eating habits which are associated with true hunger.

 

How To Combat Emotional Eating

 

  • Keep a food diary.  Get in the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink, including the quantity, the times at which you eat, your emotional state while eating the meal, and your level of hunger.  By doing this you may see patterns which will reveal your emotional relationship with food.

 

  • Remove tempting foods.  Avoid stocking comfort foods in your home if you find that they are difficult to resist.  And by all means avoid making trips to the grocery store if your emotions are spiraling out of control!

 

  • Practice stress management.  Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are effective methods of managing your stress.

 

  • Determine whether you are truly hungry.  Many times people may believe they are hungry when in reality they are actually emotionally distraught and desperately searching for a way to defuse such emotions.

 

  • Make sure you consume adequate calories.  Individuals who are trying to lose weight will often restrict their calorie intake too much, and will turn to the same foods in an effort to remain on track without rewarding themselves with an occasional treat.  Adding variety to your meal plan will also help to keep you on track.

 

  • Distract yourself.  If you get an urge to snack when you aren’t truly hungry, distract yourself by watching a movie, calling a friend, reading, listening to music, or taking a walk.

 

  • Consume healthy snacks.  If an urge to snack between meals strikes, choose a low-calorie snack such as vegetables with seasoned nonfat Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, low fat cottage cheese or rice cakes.

 

  • Get enough sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an important component in decreasing cravings for comfort foods.

 

  • Eat at regular intervals.  Consume smaller meals every three to four hours to keep you from feeling hungry or deprived.

 

  • Focus on the experience of eating.  Learn to eat in a mindful manner, in which you pay attention to your meal and only your meal.  Become aware of the sensations associated with eating.

 

  • Reward yourself.  It is both physically and emotionally unhealthy to practice excessive calorie restriction for prolonged periods.  Allow yourself to have a favorite food or meal once each week.

 

  • Connect with your emotions.  When a food craving hits during an emotional time, write down the emotions you are experiencing, such as sadness, loneliness or anger.

 

  • Seek professional help if emotional eating is frequent.  There are countless support groups which you can join which will help you to develop insight as well as the skills to avoid engaging in such behavior.

 

One last note: make sure to get vital nutrients into your diet on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, and my favorite is SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber. SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin delivers high bioavailability on a three time dosing regimen each day and is suitable for everyone, but it is especially great for individuals who tend to experience intestinal discomfort from multivitamin formulas.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx

Sugar And Cognitive Decline

hero-cookie-candy-bars
How can sugar be such a bad thing when it tastes so wonderful? Well, you might want to consider the consequences of indulging in sweet treats on a regular basis. Consume a diet high in processed sugar and you can almost count on experiencing a pronounced cognitive decline with advancing years. Numerous studies have revealed a decline in cognitive function after consuming processed carbohydrates. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined habitual sugar intake in over 700 nondiabetic middle-aged subjects of Puerto Rican descent. The results showed that consumption of sugary beverages resulted in lower MMSE scores, while a higher total sugar consumption resulted in lower word list learning scores. Numerous other studies have shown a strong correlation between insulin resistance and lowered cognitive function.

sugary-drinks

As it is, cognitive function begins to decrease by our late 20’s with memory problems surfacing about ten years after that. Some individuals are already doomed to develop insulin resistance with increasing age, and this is magnified dramatically when processed carbohydrates are consumed on a regular basis. Processed carbohydrates such as refined sugar are absorbed more rapidly, causing a surge in insulin release. When this occurs frequently, the result is an increase in insulin resistance. Another consequence of increased blood sugar is decreased blood flow, which also inhibits cognitive function.

By no means am I saying that you have to COMPLETELY eliminate all sugar from your diet all the time (though it isn’t a bad idea). If you allow yourself the RARE indulgence, such as birthday cake, that is fine. The more insidious culprits are the sugary sodas, flavored yogurts and packaged crackers which tend to creep into regular diets. They may be tasty to many people, but they carry a heavy consequence. Knowing all of this, why would you risk “dumbing down” and increasing your dementia risk by eating sugary foods all the time? Now, that is just stupid.

Eliminating sugar from your diet is a great step towards improved health and mental clarity, but you should also make sure to get vital nutrients in on a daily basis. I recommend taking a multivitamin several times a day to optimize absorption, but most of the large brand multivitamin formulations out there are dosed once daily. In addition, the bigger brands do not have high bioavailability. What I love about SWAT Fuel’s .40 Caliber Multivitamin is that the nutrients in the formulation are highly bioavailable, and the supplement is taken three times daily. This is my personal choice of multivitamin, and yes, I do take it three times daily. This formulation is very clean and doesn’t cause the intestinal upset that some multivitamins can cause.

You can order .40 Caliber directly from the website: http://swatfuel.com/products.aspx
References:

Br J Nutr 2011 Nov; 106(9):1423-32.

Sugar Makes You Stupid

hero-cookie-candy-bars
How can sugar be such a bad thing when it tastes so wonderful? Well, you might want to consider the consequences of indulging in sweet treats on a regular basis. You are probably already familiar with the dental consequences of high sugar diets, and you are probably also aware of the correlation between sugar and insulin resistance. You may even be well aware of how sugar can completely stall weight loss efforts. But did you know that a diet high in sugar can affect memory and learning?

Consume a diet which is high in processed sugar, and you can almost count on experiencing a pronounced cognitive decline with advancing years. Numerous studies have revealed a decline in cognitive function among subjects who were evaluated after consuming processed carbohydrates. One 2011 study in particular, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, examined habitual sugar intake in over 700 nondiabetic middle-aged subjects of Puerto Rican descent. The results showed that consumption of sugary beverages resulted in lower Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) scores, while a higher total sugar consumption resulted in lower word list learning scores. Numerous other studies have shown a strong correlation between insulin resistance and lowered cognitive function. Basically, the higher the sugar intake, the lower the mental function.

sugary-drinks

As it is, cognitive function begins to decrease by our late 20’s, with memory problems surfacing about ten years after that. Some individuals are already doomed to develop insulin resistance with increasing age, and this is magnified dramatically when processed carbohydrates are consumed on a regular basis. Processed carbohydrates such as refined sugar are absorbed more rapidly, causing a surge in insulin release. When this occurs frequently, the result is an increase in insulin resistance. Another consequence of increased blood sugar is decreased blood flow, which also inhibits cognitive function.

By no means am I saying that you have to COMPLETELY eliminate all sugar from your diet all the time (though it isn’t a bad idea). If you allow yourself the RARE indulgence, such as birthday cake, that is fine. The more insidious culprits are the sugary sodas, flavored yogurts, breads, pastas, granolas, salad dressings, juices, coffee and tea drinks, and crackers which tend to creep into regular diets.

Here are some common forms of sugar which can show up on a product’s ingredient label:
Cane sugar, Brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, honey, dextrose, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, syrup

Make sure to read ingredient labels on all items you are considering purchasing at the store!

Remember that foods containing sugar may be tasty to many people, but they carry a heavy consequence. Knowing all of this, why would you risk “dumbing down” and increasing your dementia risk by eating sugary foods all the time? Now, that is just stupid.

References:

Br J Nutr 2011 Nov; 106(9):1423-32.