Do you struggle to lose your belly fat and tone your midsection? F45 nutritionist Kim Bowman explains exactly why, and how you can finally achieve that six-pack.
Losing belly fat isn’t an easy task.
Yes, you can eat well, and cut out sugar, alcohol and processed foods. Yes, you can spend hours in the gym doing sit-ups and crunches. But these things will only do so much. In fact, they might even be hindering your progress.
Here, F45 nutritionist Kim Bowman debunks the three biggest myths when it comes to losing belly fat.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
Myth 1: Ab exercises are the best way to lose belly fat
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to losing belly fat.
While core exercises can help to develop abdominal muscular strength and support the lower back, spot training the abdominal region will not make a six-pack appear.
For this reason, it’s imperative to focus on full body fat loss through functional training that combines a variety of bodyweight and plyometric exercises along with HIIT intervals. Exercises that require a full-range of motion will target all muscles of the core region to promote overall strength which is key for six-pack development.
At the same time, functional training that involves high intensity exercise and/or intervals, benefits full-body fat burning, which is key for overall fat loss.
Aside from incorporating full-body functional training, quality eating habits can make or break belly-fat loss. When it comes to building a six-pack, regardless of how much you may be training, poor food choices can essentially bring any training goal to a standstill.
Nutrient-dense whole foods that are rich in fibre will optimise fat burning and keep us feeling fuller for longer. Additionally, lean protein sources and healthy fats such as those from fatty fish like salmon or halibut are quality calories that will optimise our health.
The key from a nutritional standpoint is to avoid processed foods, as many store bought snacks, desserts, and fast foods as these contain refined sugar and hydrogenated fats that disrupt our body’s homeostasis and metabolic efficiency. Specifically, refined sugar often found in store-bought sweets, disrupts blood sugar balance and can lead to cravings for more of these foods, which provide no nutritional gain (essentially ‘empty calories’).
By incorporating nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods into our diet on a regular basis instead, we can stay consistent with a healthy eating routine. Quality food that promotes caloric deficit in combination with functional training will boost metabolism and promote full body fat loss and abdominal definition.
Myth 2: You should avoid carbs
While there are many known fad diets that encourage low carbohydrates (Atkins, Ketogenic and so forth) the reality is that we don’t need to remove carbs from our diet altogether, but rather incorporate quality carbohydrates.
Understanding which carbohydrates to consume versus those to avoid is key for overall health and weight loss. The problem is that in today’s industrial diet we rely too much on processed foods versus consuming foods in their natural unprocessed state.
The problem with processed forms of carbohydrates is that they provide our body with very little nutritional value while at the same time disrupting blood sugar balance which can lead to cravings and excess calories consumption.
The best types of carbs to consume include:
- Whole or sprouted grains (oats, Ezekiel bread, quinoa, brown rice)
- Whole fruits and vegetables (bananas, apples, berries, sweet potatoes, broccoli)
- Legumes; lentils, beans (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans)
For full-body weight loss and six-pack development, the majority of carbohydrate consumption is best consumed earlier in the day and tapered off towards the evening.
It’s also best to have fibre-rich complex carbs after a workout to promote recovery versus before a workout to optimise caloric deficit and fat burning. Why?
Carbohydrates are a primary fuel source and by consuming carbohydrates after a workout versus before we can optimise our body’s ability to start using fat stores as a source of energy (ie. fat burning).
Myth 3: You have to eliminate fat from your diet
Similar to carbohydrates, there are good fats that are essential to our overall health and bad fats that can hinder our weight loss.
Fat is the most energy dense of all macronutrients (9kcal/gram) and is key for promoting feelings of fullness throughout the day, which is key for minimising cravings. Fat is essential for hormone balance, heart health, and brain function as well as vitamin and mineral function.
Fat plays a key role in our overall long-term health, however understanding the difference between healthy fats versus those that should be avoided is necessary for full-body weight loss.
The key to quality fat consumption is to avoid processed fats known as trans fats as much as possible. These fats are found in processed foods such as chips, pre-packaged dinners and store-bought salad dressings, and have undergone significant processing. The problem is that these trans fats don’t provide nutritional benefits while at the same time contributing to inflammation within the body.
Instead, the majority of fat intake should come from minimally processed, plant-based (unsaturated fat) sources while also incorporating fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut.
Examples of ‘good fats’ include:
- Fatty fish (wild-caught salmon, halibut, tuna)
- Nuts and seeds
- Avocado or extra-virgin olive oil
- Unrefined coconut oil
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Nut butters with no added sugar (almond, peanut)
- Grass-fed beef
Kim Bowman is the F45 Nutritionist. Head here for more nutrition information.