By: Alexa Towersey
If the winter months have managed to turn your six-pack into a muffin-top-sized problem, then now is the perfect time to get rid of that unsightly overhang. Read on for the third in a series of articles by health and fitness expert Alexa Towersey that explores your body fat and what it says about your health and your hormones.
Unfortunately, training hard is not enough. We now know that your hormones affect where your fat is stored, and muffin tops are correlated with the hormone insulin. They are a direct consequence of poor blood-sugar management – essentially, a poor diet. On the bright side, insulin is the one hormone that we have complete control over. No one ever ate anything by accident.
The major myth surrounding fat loss is that fat is the enemy. If I told you to complete this sentence, “Eating fat makes you…”, I could pretty much guarantee you would all say “fat”. This is not true. You need to eat fat to burn fat. When it comes to efficiently managing your blood-sugar levels, fat is your friend and sugar is your enemy.
Adhere to these simple nutritional guidelines to whittle down your waistline.
1. Be aware of your dietary habits by keeping a food diary. A sneaky biscuit at morning and afternoon tea adds up to a whole packet quicker than you think!
2. Eat the right foods in the right amounts at the right times. You don’t have to eat every two to three hours, but don’t allow yourself to get to the point where you’re starving and you end up overeating or making poor nutritional choices.
3. Breakfast sets you up for the day. Go for something high in protein that will fill you up, combined with a “smart” fat that will help stabilise your blood sugar for longer. Steak and nuts are great options. (I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the male population.) If you can’t manage meat in the morning, eggs and avocado are excellent alternatives.
4. Step away from the skinny lattes. Dairy products are notorious for causing a rapid spike in blood sugar. Typically low fat means high sugar, so if you can’t avoid dairy, go for the full-fat varieties. Ice cream trumps fat-free frozen yoghurt!
5. Swap out starchy, sugary “white” carbohydrates for healthier alternatives such as sweet potato, brown/red/wild rice, gluten-free organic oats and quinoa. Adding lemon juice to your food lowers the glycaemic index instantly. Cinnamon increases your ability to metabolise sugar so it becomes the perfect addition to your morning coffee or porridge.
6. Include fibre at mealtimes to slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, and fill you up for longer. Dark-green leafy vegetables are essential, and chia seeds, flax seeds or hemp seeds make a tasty addition to salads and smoothies.
7. The more you eat sweets, the more you will want them. Try satisfying cravings by sautéing a handful of nuts in butter – this combination satisfies the same neurotransmitter pathways as your favourite treats.
8. Eating too much fruit is a common fat-loss mistake. Fructose is sugar. Berries and dark coloured fruits are your best bets, having the lowest glycaemic indices and the highest nutritional properties.
9. Take a good quality fish oil with meals to help stabilise blood sugar, rebalance essential fatty acids, and increase the ability of the body to metabolise fat.
Next issue: Thunder thighs, and why it’s so important to detoxify your body – and your home.
Alexa Towersey is a personal trainer and nutrition and lifestyle coach with clients in Hong Kong and Sydney. Twitter: alexatowersey | Instagram: actionalexa