It’s this time of the year again: you have booked your first beach holiday this year and decided that you want to look and feel good in bikini.
You may have noticed that for some reason, more weight accumulates around your middle. Your arms and legs may be acceptable looking, but your mid-section seems to defy all attempts at diet and exercise. Perhaps, your clothes feel uncomfortable, your waistband is too tight and you’ve got a “muffin top” pouring over the waistband of your jeans?
If this sounds familiar, be careful! Excess weight around your middle does not only look unsightly but it can also be very damaging to your health. Excess belly fat may increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and even cancer (especially breast cancer). Unfortunately, this type of fat is also very stubborn - normal diets and rigorous exercise regimes rarely work.
With all of this in mind, we put together 10 tips from celebrities and asked our experts what to do to tackle this stubborn fat.
1. Stop dieting
Jennifer Aniston admitted in on of her interviews: ‘I stopped dieting when I figured out that you just have to eat regularly and properly within moderation. The fads are too much.’
‘Stop dieting and don’t count calories, otherwise your body will think there’s a famine and will raise stress levels, which contribute to fat storage.’ Explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com), author of Fat Around The Middle.
2. Eat little and often
Billie Faires, known from The Only Way is Essex curbs her cravings but having five meals a day. ‘Another new thing for me was to eat little and often, so I have five smaller meals every day rather than three big ones. Because I release energy really slowly it's better to graze during the day, and it means I'm not starving hungry and tempted to run out and get a McDonald's cheeseburger.’
‘Try to keep your blood sugar levels and energy levels stable by eating regularly. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid morning and one mid afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. Try not to eat carbohydrates after 6pm. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and sugar cravings. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As the blood sugar steadies, so will the mood swings. ‘ explains Dr Glenville.
3. Don’t skip breakfast
Kim Kardashian, proud owner of trimmed waist always starts her typical day with protein-packed breakfast 'I usually have scrambled eggs or oatmeal’ she mentioned to Harper’s Bazaar.
'If you miss breakfast your body immediately registers famine and hangs on tight to your ample stores of fat. You are also more likely to reach for high sugar and fatty snacks later during the day.’ explains Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at www.Nutricentre.com.
4. Eliminate or reduce all added sugar and refined carbohydrates
Megan Fox, known from her perfect figure follows to a strict, no carb diet. ‘I cut out all bread and those sort of carbohydrates. No crackers, no pretzels, no chips. Nothing unhealthy.’ she told E! News.
Why is it so important to say no to sugar and carbs? ‘Avoid any foods that make your blood sugar rise quickly, because - as blood sugar drops again - your body releases adrenaline and cortisol to stabilise it once more and you end up caught in a catch 22 situation. Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly.’ says Dr Glenville.
5. Add protein to each meal
Scarlett Johansson, known for her curves and tiny waist follows a high protein diet rich in turkey, chicken and fish. She also grills and bakes her food instead of frying to save calories.
Why should we include lean meat, seafood and Greek yoghurt in our daily diet? Dr Glenville explains ‘Protein slows down the rate that stomach processes food and delays the passage of the carbohydrates with it. As soon as you add a protein (be it animal or vegetable) to a carbohydrate, you change it into a slower releasing carbohydrate, that keep your sugar levels at bay.’
6. Eat essential fats
Do you want to look like an angel? Adriana Lima, Victoria’s Secret Angel swears by Omega 3 supplement ‘I eat a lot of protein and green vegetables and I always take supplements like Omega-3.’
Why is it essential for a flat tummy? ‘Long term dependency on low fat products might mean that you’re consuming less saturated fat, but also that you deficient in the good fats – essential fatty acids, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. They help to boost your metabolism so don’t forget to include them in your diet. You can also try taking supplement, such as Quest Vitamins Omega 3 (www.revital.co.uk, £6.19) ‘ says Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
7. Don’t eat on the run
Gwyneth Paltrow, famous health guru is also a devotee of mindfullness - a theory, which says it is about being more aware of how you eat than what you eat.
‘Eating on the run gives your body the message that time is scarce; you are under pressure and stressed. Furthermore, your digestive system will be less efficient and you will most likely overeat, as it takes approx. 20 minutes for our brain to register that you are full. Make a point of sitting down and eating your food as calmly, as possible.’ Says Dr Glenville.
8. Watch what you drink
Gemma Atkinson, who recently took part in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, where she showed her immaculate figure, limits herself to 'one big night out a month, and drinks low calories drinks including vodka lime and soda.'
Why is it so important to watch what you drink? ‘Cut out not only all caffeine and sugary drinks but also significantly reduce alcohol intake (cut it out completely for a month if you can). Alcoholic beverages contain empty calories, which means they have no nutritional value. In addition, those calories won’t satisfy your hunger so you will end up eating more that you should. Drinking too much alcohol will not only make you put on weight but it will also give you fat around the middle’.’ says Dr Glenville.
Halle Berry keeps her abs in a great condition thanks to Pilates. We asked Lynne Robinson, founder of Body Control Pilates and author of Pilates for Weight Loss to explain how Pilates can give you a flat tummy ‘The reason Pilates is so good at trimming inches off your waist is because one of the key Fundamentals of Pilates, alongside Alignment and Breathing, is Centring. This involves learning how to control all your movements from your centre. In Pilates you learn how to use your deep core muscles to support your spine. These muscles wrap around your waist like a natural built in corset. It’s been called your ‘girdle of strength!’ Every exercise your do in a Pilates session teaches you how to work from your centre. No wonder we are famous for reducing waistlines!’
10. Don’t eat processed food
Elle MacPherson, the 51 year old Australian model, who shows no signs of ageing, eats only whole foods such as vegetables that she can recognise and which haven’t been interfered with in a manufacturing plant.
‘Processed food is packed with salt, which can cause bloating. They are also high in refined fructose that "programs" your body to eat more calories and store fat. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized straight into fat.’ explains Wilkinson.