Top Ten Tips for a Tip-Top Tummy

Top Ten Tips for a Tip-Top Tummy

By Rick Ashworth – MSc Sports Science

These days it seems a flat belly is barely enough and that we all should have beautifully crafted stomachs that reveal every muscled curve, so sculptured you could stand shirtless on a plinth in the middle of the British Museum and have a good chance of someone asking whether you were an original Michelangelo. Well, pooh-sticks to that, I’ve never had a six-pack in my life but I have always had a middle with a circumference well below the risk levels associated with poor health, including type-2 diabetes and other auto-immune and health disorders, that’s 37” for a bloke and 32” for a woman, by-the-way.Unknown

However, we all know that excess fatty deposits tend to be held around our middles, there or thereabouts anyway. There can be various reasons why we end up carrying too much fat, generally it’s down to taking in excess calories but more contemporary reasons centre on our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the elevated stress levels many of us now feel, which is even worse should you have no healthy way of dissipating them.

The following tips will not banish stress for good and nor will they will lead you to a life of extraordinary bliss or allow you to make a deal with God in the hereafter but they will point you towards having better health and all the benefits that come along with that:

  • Rebel Against the Government – this is not to incite an uprising but to pretend there is a sugar tax after all, that sugar is so expensive that you can’t afford it. Cutting down on (or, even, stop taking altogether) calories that have very little nutritional value will improve your health and reduce all the factors that lead to cancer, heart disease and all those other unpleasant and downright ghastly diseases that will put you in a box too early. These foods include but are certainly not limited to: fizzy drinks, alcohol, biscuits, cakes, crisps and chocolate. These foods make you fat and promote disease, the more avoided the better your health.
  • Never Skip Breakfast - skipping meals is a bad thing, studies show that eating within the first hour upon waking helps to regulate insulin levels, which in turn, helps you stay fuller for longer and stops fat storage. Top foods for this are: eggs, fresh fruit, meats and whole grains. This latter food group has been found to be eaten by people with lower belly fat.
  • Stop Stressing - life’s too short or, at least, research suggests it might be if you keep it up. Stress can play a big role in fat storage so avoid it. Try yoga, take up meditation or a morning constitutional through the park. Get away from your desk at lunchtime with a good book (in fact a bad one would probably do). Studies suggest that standing up and pacing around during a phone call causes less stress and tends to lead to better decision making too.
  • Drink - that might be a little misleading, it means water, sorry about that. It doesn’t mean carrying a two litre bottle under your arm all day but just sip occasionally and drink when you’re thirsty. It’ll help keep you feeling full and every cell in your body will work better for it.
  • Exercise Like a Dog - which is to say you don’t need to train for hours on end every day to achieve the body you want but when you are exercising go after that ball with everything you have. Your ball is more likely to be a treadmill or a bike but using high intensity intervals will reap the greatest benefits for the time taken. Train for 1min as hard as you can with 1min recovery for only 5-10mins (include a short warm-up and cool down) to help burn more calories during but, also, after exercise too. Further, if you can throw in a few resistance exercises primarily on your chest, back and legs, e.g. bench press, back row, squat and lunge you’ll make even better inroads.
  • Vitamins & Minerals – all of these are important in your diet, just as an example, vitamin C helps balance cortisol levels caused by stress and helps the body to break down fats into fuel. Other important vitamins and minerals include magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12, at the very least you should be taking a multi-vitamin and Omega-3 every single day.
  • Dump Sugar – really this is just the same as point 1 but it bears repeating simply because it is the chief reason type-2 diabetes is soaring and why so many people are struggling with their weight. There are many ‘hidden sugars’ in many, many foods but by simply cutting back on the obvious ones you’ll be taking the biggest forward step you can in taking control of your diet. It’s all over the news at present and, believe me, it’s going to cause more health problems for the population in the future than, well…anything.
  • Get Fat! - healthy fats are massively important to your health. You need to appreciate that fat contains more calories per gram than anything else but fish, walnuts and avocados will help to keep you fuller for longer and will enable your body to function at it’s best, just stick to one fat source per meal but don’t be scared of choosing the higher fat option, it usually means less sugar than the ‘0%’ fat or ‘low-fat’ options and is, therefore, far better for your overall health.
  • Eat Fibre - more fibre in your diet means slower digestion, which, in turn, means feeling fuller for longer and it slows down the digestion of any sugars into the bloodstream. It’s the basis for the GI Diet and it’ll help clear out your system too.
  • Stand Up Straight! - this one might seem a little silly but it’s true. Due to our sedentary working lives, many of us are slightly hunched and end up walking or standing with our head bowed, meaning our lower backs become stretched and our stomachs become folded. This folding means rather than having our skin stretched tight over our abdominals it sags and makes us look fatter than we actually are. Flexibility is a key issue, which might need professional help with but the taller you stand, lifting your chin from your chest and pulling your shoulders back, then the more toned your middle will look.

 

Following these ten simple steps will lead you on towards having a toned middle, with good all round health and fitness; for life.

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