Melt Unsightly Belly Fat!
By: Meg Kruse, Personal Trainer, Fitness Quest 10
Ha! I’ll bet I’ve got your attention now! Good! It seems as if I can’t look at one single health and/or magazine, men or women’s, that isn’t promising some quick, easy way to “melt”, “blast” or “burn” belly fat. I get it, though, nobody wants that unsightly muffin top! Nobody wants the drained, sluggish, depressed feeling that comes with making poor food choices day after day after day.
For this reason, I am going to introduce you to a set of nutrition habits or rules that I learned from John Berardi’s incredible Precision Nutrition coaching program which will completely change the way you eat, sleep, look, feel and perform in day-to-day activities or during athletic events. AND you can incorporate these habits into your life as quickly or as slowly as is comfortable for YOU.
10 Good Nutrition Habits
1. Eat every 2-4 hours.
Research shows that eating every 2-4 hours is one of the most important ways to improve health and body composition. Frequent eating of well-chosen, properly sized meals stimulates the metabolism, balances blood sugar, and helps maintain your lean mass while giving your body a reason to burn off the extra fat.
2. Eat lean protein each time you eat.
Eat something that is an animal or comes from an animal every time you eat. Research has shown that in healthy individuals, a higher-protein diet is not only completely safe, but necessary for achieving the best health, body composition, and performance. A portion size is visually about the size of the palm of your hand, between 20-30g. Women should get one portion of protein per meal and men should get two.
3. Eat vegetables with each meal.
Eat between 2-3 servings (a serving is about ½ a cup) with every meal. You will be getting 10-15 servings of cancer-fighting, free-radical destroying, acid neutralizing, and micronutrient-rich power each day. You can toss in a piece of fruit here and there, but don’t skip the veggies!
4. If your goal is fat loss, eat other carbohydrates (non-fruit/veggie) only after exercise.
This is important! When it comes to body composition change, this carbohydrate timing strategy is the single most effective strategy for fat loss in people with stubborn fat stores. So, after a good workout, include good carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, etc.) with your meal. The rest of the day eat lean protein and veggies and fruit.
5. Eat healthy fats daily.
About 25-35% of the diet should come from fat the 3 types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Eating all three kinds can dramatically improve your health and help you lose weight. Saturated fat should come from animal products and you can even include some butter or coconut oil for cooking. Monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olive oil and avocado. Polyunsaturated fat comes from flaxseed oil, fish oil supplements, and some nuts.
6. Drink only zero calorie drinks.
Eliminate fruit juice, soda, sugar-laden coffee and tea drinks and alcohol. The exception to calorie-containing drinks would be post-workout which I discussed previously in Habit 4. Your absolute best choices are water and green tea. Coffee, in moderation is okay too. When it comes to water, drink about half your body weight in ounces of water per day, more if you are exercising.
7. Eat whole foods instead of supplements whenever possible.
Most of your dietary intake should come from high quality, largely unprocessed whole food sources. Eat bars and and shakes only when you are crunched for time or during the exercise/post-exercise period when only liquid nutrition will do.
8. Plan ahead and prepare food in advance.
This is a biggie. It doesn’t matter how much you know about good nutrition if you don’t have strategies for making sure that you have healthy food prepared and available when it’s time to eat. You will need to come up with preparation strategies in order to ensure that you can CONSISTENTLY get the nutrition you need when you need it. I grill about 12 pounds of chicken, prepare brown rice in a rice cooker and steam a huge quantity of vegetables usually on Sunday for the upcoming week. About twice a week I prepare 4 breakfasts consisting of steel cut oats and kale or spinach omelet. This works for me. Other people prefer to get up early and prepare the food for the day. A food preparation service is another alternative. The point is that you need a plan… and you need to be consistent.
9. Eat as wide a variety of good foods as possible.
Once you have gotten good as following the 10 habits, it will eventually be simple to follow them. You will be a STAR once you are able to follow them at 90% adherence for 3-4 weeks. Now it is time to branch out and find some healthy alternatives to the fruits, vegetable and proteins that you usually eat.
10. Plan to break the rules 10% of the time.
This process is all about practice, not perfection. 100% nutritional discipline is never required for optimal progress. The difference, in results, between 100% adherence to your nutritional program and 100% adherence is negligible. In fact, from a psychological perspective, it’s important to eat some food that doesn’t necessarily follow all of the rules from time to time. Just make sure that you are doing the math and determine what 10% of the time really means. So, if you are eating 6 meals a day for 7 days a week…that’s 42 meals. 10% would be about 4 meals. You are allowed to “break the rules” 4 meals per week. Do not, however go crazy and pig out! Do plan your 10% meals and enjoy them and get back on track.
There you go! Your new set of nutritional guidelines for looking, feeling and performing better in your everyday activities and workouts. And, of course, melt that belly fat in the process!
Happy and healthy eating to you!