By Dr. Michael Wald and Mr. Sunny Seward
A flat stomach is the American ideal. We all work to achieve this goal, but few succeed. Many people often feel discouraged in their pursuit of a toned midsection. When it comes to diet and exercise, most people think they have tried everything. However, that is usually not true. The following five components of diet and exercise are essential to achieving a flat stomach.
Gluten has been a debated topic in America for the past 10-plus years. Gluten is a protein composite that is found in foods such as wheat, barley, rye and occasionally oats. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise. It gives shape to bread and produces a chewier texture. Gluten is interpreted by some of our bodies as "foreign" and causes a malabsorption problem in the small intestines - the place where we absorb nutrients from our foods. Gluten also evokes an immune reaction that can affect virtually any organ in the body. For many people, weight gain is part of the "gluten problem".
Only recently has it been recognized as a contributor to fatigue, heart disease, weight gain and ultimately, belly fat. In the book Wheat Belly, by cardiologist William Davis, the author argues that eliminating wheat from a person’s diet can result in up to fifteen pounds of weight loss and prevent fat storage, particularly around the waistline. In my upcoming good entitled, Gluten-A-Holic, I describe the exact ways in which gluten create inflammation that causing weight gain and disease. Look for the book in 2013.
Everyday, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of gluten. It is estimated that 90% are addicted to it without even knowing it. Wheat today is not what it used to be. Approximately 70% of all wheat-gluten in America are genetically modified “dwarf-wheat.” It is highly addictive and toxic to the body. An addictive substance called gluteomorphin, an opioid amino acid, is produced during the digestion of wheat. It stimulates the same receptors in the brain that opioid drugs, such as morphine and opium, do and creates an addiction. This leads to overeating, which results in increased fat storage and weight gain. To avoid this, and unwanted belly fat, transition to gluten free food. Naturally gluten free grains include millet, rice, buckwheat, oats and quinoa.
Consuming healthy snacks throughout the day helps balance blood sugar and insulin levels, which affect fat storage. Eat early and eat often. Eat protein with every meal to boost your metabolism, aid in digestion and prevent muscle breakdown. Do not skip breakfast and consume larger portions of food earlier in the day. Eat smaller portions at night. Evening meals should consist of both plant and animal protein, non-starchy carbohydrates and most importantly, water.
Limit sugar consumption to achieve greater results in and out of the gym. Like gluten, sugar has evolved. The once deemed fine spice is now a frankenfood, a term given to genetically altered organisms (GMOs). What was a natural plant-derived condiment is now a chemically processed substitute that does far more than sweeten foods and beverages.
Sugar sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, have replaced sugar in certain foods, such as soft drinks and processed foods. They are directly linked to obesity. It is estimated that the average American consumes nearly 150 pounds of sugar per year and close to 34 gallons of soda. Artificial sugar inhibits fat burning and enhances fat storage. Substitute artificial sugar with low glycemic plant-based sugar like stevia, agave and some sugar alcohols.
Emphasize diet over cardio. Do not over exercise to burn fat. Limit cardio to three to four 45-minute sessions a week. Incorporate 30 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT), followed by 15 minutes of low-intensity jogging or walking. When it comes to burning fat, intensity matters over the duration.
Increase Fat Breakdown
A high carbohydrate tolerance is crucial to optimizing fat loss and accelerating fat breakdown. Carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, processed starches, soda and fruit juice lower your tolerance to carbohydrates, thus increasing the likelihood of fat storage.
Muscles are like a sponge. Carbohydrates break down into sugar. Muscles absorb free sugar, preventing this sugar from turning into glycogen (storage form of sugar/fat). Consuming too much sugar in the form of breads, pasta and sweeteners supersaturate your sponge. When the muscle is saturated, the excess sugar spills over and triggers an insulin reaction. When insulin is spiked fat is accumulated. The trick to preventing the spillage of sugar is to dry out your sponge. The proper carbohydrate depletion diet, strength training, correct nutrition supplementation and hormonal balance will increase your carbohydrate tolerance and create a buffered zone for cheat days.
Note: An insulin spike post workout may benefit an individual looking to increase muscle and/or improve strength. Discuss your goals with a trained clinical nutritionist who has knowledge in this field to avoid inverse productivity.
Weight loss, particularly around the mid section is achieved through hard work and consistency. Having information on hand makes it easier to stay on track and achieve your goals. Allow these tips to provide additional support to your current routine. For further information, or to create a personal diet and exercise plan, contact Dr. Michael Wald at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, P.C. www.intmedny.com.