How to Burn Off Stubborn Belly Fat

How to Burn Off Stubborn Belly Fat

Question:

No matter how much exercising and dieting I do, I can’t get rid of a small “spare tire” I’ve had for years. Is there something I can do nutritionally to help burn off that fat? 

– David H.

Hi, What are the foods you recommend that can reduce belly fat (subcutaneous fat) and give a flat belly? Thanks.

– Karthik K.

What foods are the best to eat to get rid of your belly fat and keep it off?

– Shawn R.

Answer:

We are asked these questions a lot! Scan for previous Living Healthy blog articles on the topic and you’ll find no less than twenty. For those already at a healthy body weight or with only a few pounds to lose, fat around the midsection and abdomen seems to resist all efforts at reduction. 

Though you can’t target belly fat with specific foods or exercises, fine tuning your diet and workout program can help you lose weight and tone all over. Exercise including moderate intensity work at least 30 minutes per day plus strength training helps control weight and fight abdominal fat, both subcutaneous and visceral (around the organs).  

For diet, the goal is to reduce foods that are readily converted to fat and focus on those that require greater work to metabolize. Doing so reduces both actual fat storage and the signals/prompts that cause it to happen, such as insulin. As long as your overall caloric intake is less than your expenditure, of course! 

  • Avoid added sugars, particularly in beverages. 
  • Choose wholesome raw ingredients that you prepare yourself instead of processed foods that generally have less fiber and more salt, sugar and trans fat
  • Get a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (from olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocados and fish). 
  • Include regular intake of active culture yogurt. 
  • Be sure you fill half your plate or bowl with vegetables at every meal, including a variety of colors.  
  • Reduce saturated fat from meat and cheese by substituting with beans, fish, poultry and egg whites.  
  • Keep alcohol intake below ‘moderate consumption.’

Sources: 

  1. Is There ‘One Trick’ to Losing Belly Fat? Rush University Medical Center https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/losing-belly-fat Accessed 9.23.2019 
  2. 8 Ways to Lose Belly Fat and Live a Healthier Life. Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/8-ways-to-lose-belly-fat-and-live-a-healthier-life Accessed 9.23.2019 
  3. 10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away. Health https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20905682,00.html Accessed 9.23.2019 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Your Guide to Mindful Eating

Today is World Food Day! With over 2,000,000 farms across the U.S., we produce, export, and consume a lot of food! In 2015, about 48.5 billion pounds of red meat was produced. In 2014, grain production came out to approximately 442.4 million metric tons. 

With all this production comes a lot of waste; 62.5 million tons of wasted food each year, to be more specific. We’re not even considering the waste that comes from actual production, from packaging, and from transporting all this food. 

As an individual, you can easily and effectively help reduce food waste. Here are some ways that you can make a positive impact. 

Reduce Wasted Food 

01.

It can be hard to remember when you made that casserole in the back of your fridge. Create your own labels so you remember when you cooked and to avoid throwing good food out prematurely. 

02.

Create your own labels for store-bought foods as well, particularly if the expiration date is already difficult to see. This is also a great idea if you tend to store certain foods without the packaging it came in. 

03.

Make your grocery shopping trips smaller and more frequent instead of buying large quantities of food less frequently. If you must buy something in bulk, split it up into smaller containers that you can freeze for later use. 

04.

Eat before you shop. We’ve all fallen victim to the hungry shopping-spree that ended with a shopping cart full of items we never intended to buy. Even a light snack before you hit the store can help you make more conscious decisions. 

05.

Try to commit to cooking more at home. If you like to meal prep and you make a big batch of food, freeze some of it so you don’t get tired of eating the same thing. This should keep it from sitting around in your fridge too long. 

06.

Instead of throwing away leftovers, re-purpose them to make an entirely different meal. This article from Taste of Home can give you some ideas on how to make leftovers shine.

07.

To help ward off spoilage, wrap fruits and veggies in a paper towel or toss a napkin into the storage container. This absorbs moisture which will help keep produce fresher longer. If you’re worried about wasting trees, try tree-free products or use regular kitchen towels. 

08.

Don’t toss it just yet! The “Best By” or “Use By” date just means your food will taste the best and be the freshest up to a certain date. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be spoiled once that date has passed! The USDA explains that “with [the] exception of infant formula…if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe and wholesome if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident.”1 

Make Ecologically Sustainable Choices 

01.

Try your best to minimize trash. You may live in a state that has banned single-use grocery bags, but if you don’t, consider reusable grocery bags for your next shopping trip. You can go a step further and bring reusable bags or lightweight containers for buying produce and bulk beans, rice, nuts, etc.

02.

Buy sustainably sourced seafood and choose varieties that are more abundant. For example, choose Mackerel, Tilapia, Catfish, Mussels, Clams, or Oysters over less abundant species like Tropical Prawns, Swordfish, Atlantic Salmon, or Shark. 2

03.

Eat less meat or commit to buying from local sources. Buying local reduces the carbon footprint caused by packaging, shipping, and other transportation. This also goes for fruits and veggies. If you can, stick only to what’s in-season. 

04.

Try composting! Believe it or not, food takes a long time to decompose in a landfill. This is because there is actually very little dirt, oxygen, and very few of the microorganisms that help with decomposition.3 Composting at home is great for the health of your soil and will help you grow your own produce.

05.

If you haven’t invested in a reusable water bottle, this is a great move for your health and for the environment. It’s a reminder to keep hydrated and a way to keep unnecessary plastic out of landfills. You can do the same with straws and cutlery and replace plastic with some reusable and portable alternatives.

For more food and nutrition topics, check out the Meal Prepping 101 Guide or this Super Snacking Guide. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “FSIS.” Food Product Dating, United States Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/food-product-dating/food-product-dating.
  2. Charles, Alba. “How to Know If Fish Is Sustainable.” Onehowto.com, 2017, food.onehowto.com/article/how-to-know-if-fish-is-sustainable-10516.html.
  3. Talk, Earth. “Do Biodegradable Items Degrade in Landfills?” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 4 Jan. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/do-biodegradable-items-really-break-down-1204144.

Do Vegetarians Need Iron Supplements?

Do Vegetarians Need Iron Supplements?

Question:

If you are vegetarian, do you have to take iron tablets to compensate? 

Do you recommend any other foods or fruits? I drink a lot of milk (1% organic) and take the following pills daily:  

1. Move Free Ultra Triple Action
2. ‘C’ Vitamin 500 mg. 
3. MSM 1000mg 
4. Calcium 600 mg
5. Multivitamin Silver Centrum for men +50  

I am 81 years old and have a slight knee problem. Please let me know if you have any other recommendations. 

– Michael J.

Answer:

Your current nutrient supplements do not provide any iron (also known as ferrous sulfate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumarate). If you consume a good amount of non-heme iron from plant sources such as vegetables like spinach, beans, nuts, and fortified grain products, it’s possible to meet your daily iron need without supplementation. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vegetarian adults over 50 years of age is 14.4 milligrams of iron per day, which is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat.  

Vitamin C helps absorb iron so you should take it with your richest iron meal. Your calcium supplement, on the other hand, reduces the availability of iron so take it at another time of day. Consult with your doctor if you’re concerned about anemia. 

The Vegetarian Resource Group offers sample high-iron menus and a discussion with sample menu for seniors. Unless you have specific symptoms, complaints or health conditions, there is no need to focus on a particular food. I’d recommend a diet rich in legumes, grains, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit with 2-3 dairy servings if you wish. Choose whole foods and limit processed foods, added sugar and alcohol. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How to Get Your Kids to Eat Right

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Right

We’ve all heard the outburst I’m not hungry!when a healthy meal is placed in front of an obviously low-fueled child. [And why, oh why, does this particularly happen after ordering an expensive dish or preparing a labor-intensive meal followed by said child eating half a loaf of bread?] Children certainly can be poor eaters, no doubt. With patience and creativity, parents can turn that into “Peas please, Mom!”

It all starts in infancy when the innate taste preference for sweet flavor (bitter foods were toxic in human history) is met with a bounty of fruity baby food; followed by edible treats from Grandma’s kitchen making their way into toddler hands. No wonder getting little ones to eat decent solid food can be challenging. It’s said that it may take 15 times of introducing a new food item before a child will eat it!  

If your kiddo seems to eat the same thing day in and out, you may not need to worry. Food jags are generally okay lasting anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Continue to offer nutritious choices and a child will eventually eat when they are hungry enough. Remember, feeding your child is about nourishment. If you engage in a battle of the wills, your child’s attitude toward food in general may lean toward the negative and his or her long-term nutrition may lose out. 

Broccoli Battles and Other Vegetable Nightmares 

Let’s talk about the elephant in the kitchen – vegetables. Children are known for eschewing them from their plates and failing to consume the recommended number of servings (see highlight/box below). Only a handful of veggies satisfy children’s preference for sweet, namely: carrot, corn, sweet potato/yam, tomato and acorn squash. We could write an entire blog just addressing ways to get your kid to eat more vegetables, but here we’ll name a few.  

It may be the look. Who said they had to be served in leafy salad or in a naked cooked pile on the plate? Make it fun and appealing! Shred or spiralize vegetables to serve as a topping for sandwiches, burgers, pasta and more. Combine diced vegetables as ‘confetti’ with rice, quinoa or couscous.

Texture aversions present an opportunity to find ways of preparing foods in another manner with an acceptable mouthfeel. Slimy hot okra might be replaced by breaded okra bites. Stringy or leafy vegetables may be pureed into smoothies, soups or sauces. Freeze dried or lightly fried vegetable chips work well in lunch boxes.

Don’t forget about between meal eating. Snacks are necessary for continued energy and offer a valuable time for additional nutrients, especially for small bellies that can only get so much at mealtime. Serve beet-blended pink hummus with crackers or pita bread.

Increasing Interest in Healthy Foods

Involve Kids in Food Prep 

To increase interest in food, try to get kids involved in cooking or at least preparing a few meals here and there. Children are more likely to try the fruits of their labor than if food is just presented to them. A fouryearold can scoop and stir, a six year old can pour and peel, an eight year old can measure and assemble, while a ten year old can cut and become more confident in advanced tasks. Children like to feed themselves, so finger-friendly foods assure independence at mealtime. To help promote a desire to eat, make sure kids aren’t full of empty calorie foods before meals — keep sweets and treats at a minimum. 

Model Smart Food Choices 

Older children often make their own food decisions about what to buy from the school cafeteria or buy from vending machines and drive-through. There’s a reason why teens are stereotyped for their greasy fast food choices, soda and pizza consumption. In a way, adolescents are exerting their freedom from rules and parental control.

On the flip side, too much attention and focus on healthfulness of food can lead to dieting and an unhealthful preoccupation with nutrition among teenagers. Set clear expectations on how spending cash is to be used. It’s best to be a good role model, following habits and behaviors that demonstrate healthy choices, starting early when children are young. 

At any stage of childhood, parents should consult with a healthcare professional if their child’s growth is no longer on trend for them individually. For specific eating behaviors and nutritional concerns, look for a Registered Dietitian who is a boardcertified specialist in pediatric nutrition, designated by the CSP credential. 

Recommended daily vegetable servings*

Children  2-3 years old 1 cup
Children 4-8 years old   1-1.5 cups 
Girls  9-13 years old 2 cups 
Boys    9-13 years old 2.5 cups
Girls  14-18 years old 2.5 cups 
Boys  14-18 years old 3 cups 

Cup vegetable equivalents (1 cup = 1 baseball or fist of an average adult)

1 cup Tomato and other vegetable juices
1 cup Broccoli, Carrots, Green beans and other cooked chopped vegetables
1 cup Pumpkin and other winter squash
1 cup Peas, Corn and other starchy vegetables
1 cup Celery, Peppers, Cucumber and other raw crunchy vegetables
cups Spinach and other raw leafy greens

*Reference: Daily Vegetable Table. USDA. www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables July 18, 2019.Accessed 9.6.2019 

How to Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet

How to Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet

Question:

I want to follow a daily routine which will help me reduce weight. Currently, I am 129 lbs. I want to reduce it to 120 lbs; however, I am a vegetarian. I don’t eat eggs or meat. Please help. 

– Swapna A.

Answer:

Vegetarian diet or not, the same rules apply for reducing body fat to lose weight: eat less than you burn. Where vegetarians may have trouble is with concentrated sugars (in foods like smoothies, cereals, fruit bars) and excess fats (hidden oils in boxed/frozen foods). Restricting intake of processed foods while focusing on whole plant foods will ensure you control the amount of sugar and fat consumed. Basically, choose foods you need to chew! 

Consider a healthy vegetarian dish of lentils, mushroom, onion, chopped spinach, olive oil and carrot over sweet potatoes. Despite the correct balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein you still need to deal with volume. Do you fill a 10-inch plate, 20 oz. bowl or only a cup? Portion control is important, no matter the diet you follow. Just cutting back 50 calories a day can promote a 5-pound weight loss over a year.  

I wouldn’t advise a daily menu repeated over and over because you need a variety of produce, legumes, nuts and seeds to meet micronutrient requirements and provide beneficial phytochemicals. But, you can start with a few days mapped out for you! EatingWell® has a decent vegan 7 day 1200 calorie plan. For a week’s worth of lacto-ovo Indian meal suggestions, check out this traditional plan from Healthline. Also read the Living Healthy blog’s Ask Our Dietitian post How to Lose Fat as a Vegan for more meal and snack options. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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