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Building a great six pack requires that you do both abs exercises that train your rectus abdomens, and exercises that train the other core m...


September 2022

Building a great six pack requires that you do both abs exercises that train your rectus abdomens, and exercises that train the other core muscles which complete the look we want.

How to Develop Great Abs (Rectus abdominis)

The biggest mistake most people make with abs training is they don’t perform any weighted abs exercises. The result is the ability to do a bazillion crunches or leg raises, but with abs that look small and underdeveloped.

The abs are like any other muscle: they require progressive overload to grow, and that can only be accomplished by adding resistance to exercises. You don’t have to add weight to all of your abs training, but you must add it to some if you want abs that really pop.

My favorite abs exercises are as follows:

Cable Crunch
Captains Chair Leg Raise (you can start with knees bent, but you want to work  toward legs straight)
Hanging Leg Raise
Air Bicycle
Ab Wheel Rollout

I didn’t just choose these at random - research has actually shown them to be the most effective for training the rectus abdomens and obliques (unfortunately the study disappeared off the Net, but it was led by Peter Francis, Ph.D., at the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University).

I’ve found that abs seem to respond best to a combination of weighted and unweighted work. Here’s how I like to do it:

1 set of a weighted exercise like the Cable Crunch, Captains Chair Leg Raise, or Hanging Leg Raise for 10-12 reps (you can add weight to the latter two by snatching a dumbbell in between your feet)
Directly into 1 set of an unweighted exercise, to failure
Directly  into 1 set of and unweighted exercise, to failure
Rest 2-3 minutes

For example:

1 set of Cable Crunches, 10-12 rep range
Directly into 1 set of Captains Chair Leg Raises, to failure
Directly into 1 set of Air Bicycles, to failure
Rest 2-3 minutes

Do 6-9 of these circuits 2-3 times per week, and your abs and oblique will develop. Let
s now look at how we can develop the rest of the core muscles.

How to develop the other core muscles

Heavy compound weightlifting “trains your core better than special “core exercises,“ and particularly when performed with heavy weight (80 percent + your 1RM). My three favorite core exercises are the Deadlift, Squat, and Military Press or Overhead Press. If you perform each of these lifts every week, and perform them with heavy weight, you won’t need to do any other core exercises. And last but not least, I’ve mentioned the serratus several times, so let’s talk about that.

How to develop a great serratus

The serratus anterior muscles are the finger-like muscles attached to your rib cage, and they really complete the “shredded“ core look.

While you can target the serrates anterior with an exercise like the Dumbbel Pullover, I never found this necessary. The exercises that really helped my serrates grow are..

Barbell Row
Dumbbel Bench Press
Ab Wheel Rollout

Amy good weightlifting routine will include the first three (and heavy weights will train your serrates better than lighter weights), and Ab wheel Rollouts are on of the great all-around abs and core exercises.

For all the effort you’ve put into toning it - and for all the cupcakes you’ve given up to maintain it - your midsection should be as rock-h...


September 2022

For all the effort you’ve put into toning it - and for all the cupcakes you’ve given up to maintain it - your midsection should be as rock-hard as diamond and just as much fun to show off. So why does it seem like your quest for a sexy stomach always hits a bump… right about belly button level?

You’re not alone in feeling frustrated: 62 percent of women say the body part they’ve most self-conscious about is their tummy. But don’t give up hope - just change your thinking. Turns out, some of the old food advice you’ve been following for years may actually be working agains you. The latest research is full of new culinary strategies for shrinking your stomach (and dropping kilos all over).


1. Will eating smaller meals curb my hunger?


Contrary to what you’ve heard, the five small-meals-a-day mantra doesn’t work for everyone. The new thinking? You’ll eat healthiest if you eat your way - meaning, if you prefer substantial meals fewer time a day, there’s no reason to force yourself to do the opposite. But while the number of meals doesn’t matter, their size does. According to US researchers, the biggest problem with our eating behavior is that snacks have become meals and meals have become feasts. In the past 30 years, snack sizes have increased from 1500kj to a whopping 2400kj! When you consider that the average woman snack twice during each work day, you’re looking at a lot of extra kilojoules. In just tow weeks, these oversize bites - no matter how “healthy“ they are - can contribute to an extra 500g of fat. The takeaway: however many times you eat, always make sure that you’re keeping and eye on your portions.


2. How do I know which fats are okay to eat?


It’s been scientifically proven: eating fat helps you become slim. In fact, fatty foods should make up 20 to 35 percent of your total kilojoules. This, of course, isn’t an invitation to head over to the nearest fast-foo outlet. You have to include the right fats - primarily monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) like nuts, avocados and healthy oils - and stay away from processed foods that contain trans fats, such as baked goods. A report in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a MUFA-rich diet helped people lose small amounts of weight and body fat even when they didn’t chan their kilojoule intake. What’s more, dieters who took a high-fat approach needed 25 fewer days to lose five kilos than those who used a high-carb approach, according to US researchers - and that was on a diet  of 30 percent fat! So go ahead and indulge (in moderation) in fatty foods that are good for you body, including beef (topside and sirloin), pork eggs (yolks too) and reduced fat sour cream and cheese.


3. Is counting kilojoules the only way to guarantee a flat stomach?


What matters most for shedding belly fat boils down to kilojoules in versus kilojoules out. For sure, counting whose suckers at every meal will help you stay consistent with a healthy eating plan - but it isn’t necessary to lose weight. If worrying about every single kilojoule is stressing you out, put away the calculator (research shows that stress itself can cause you to overindulge). Instead, fill your plate with whole, energy-dense foods, such as lean protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Because they pack a lot of nutrition into comparatively few kilojoules, you’re able to eat more and feel full without expanding your waistline.


4. Do carbs cause tummy fat?


Despite what nearly every diet plan in the late Nineties led you to believe, carbs are not your enemy. Yes, if you overeat them, you’ll gain - just as with any other food. But when it comes to weight loss, your total kilojoule balance is what matter. If you eat more than you burn, the unused kilojoules turn into fat that gets stored in your tummy (and elsewhere), regardless of what particular foods those kilojoules come from. If just the sight of carb-heavy dishes melts your willpower into goo, avoiding them is the foolproof way to control your weight. More realistic, perhaps, is making sure most of your carbs are the complex kind found in whole grains and raw fruit and vegetables. Because these tend to fill you with fibre, it’s easier to eat them in controlled portions than it is with highly processed refined carbs like white bread, pasta and rice.


5. I’m losing kilos but not centimetres. What’s wrong?


This usually means you’re not strength training or eating enough protein. Pick up some weights and add 150g of lean meat to your post-workout meal, or mix two scoops of protein powder into a smoothie or yoghurt. Each option yields about 40g of protein, the amount you need to lose fat while preserving metabolism-revving muscle.


6. Can I have dairy and still lose  my tum?


Absolutely, In fact, cutting back on the amount of dairy you eat can signal your body to make more fat cells, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. When you don’t have enough calcium in your body, it tries to hold on to what’s there. This triggers the release of a compound called calcitriol, which increases the production of fat cells. If you want fewer fat cells, eating extra calcium suppresses calcitriol, which breaks down fat and makes your fat cells leaner and your tummy flatter. So enjoy milk, yoghurt or a little cheese, but because dairy does tend to be high in kilojoules, keep your portions small or stick to low-fat varieties. (The recommended daily intake for women is three cups of low-fat dairy.)


7. Aren’t protein shakes just for bodybuilders?


Don’t be fooled by labels featuring ripped, bulked-up dudes. Anyone, jock or not, can benefit form the belly-flattening power of protein powder. If you’re not lactose intolerant, opt for whey protein over soy: according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, participants whose diets included whey protein for 23 weeks had less body fat and a smaller waist than those who consumed soy protein. In fact, as strange as it sounds, dieters who included whey protein in their eating plan doubled their fat loss compared with those who ate the same number of kilojoules but didn’t drink any shakes. To reveal your abs once and for all, include a whey protein shake once a day or at least few times a week.


8. Do artificial sweetener really pack on kilos?


Nutritionist debate this topic as vigorously as politicians argue about e-tolls. There’s no direct link between consuming these sweeteners and gaining weight. Still, some research indicates that by providing you with the taste of a high-kilojoule meal without delivering the kilojoules your brain expects, diet foods made with chemicals, artificial sweeteners and preservatives can actually leave you craving more food, which causes you to overeat. And another reason to tone down your diet cooldrinkx habit. US scientist found that diet drinks and some sugar alternative may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome, which results in higher levels of tummy fat, blood sugar and cholesterol. So it’s a good idea to limit your intake to three or four servings a day at most  (one sachet of sugar substitute in your coffee is one serving, one can of diet cooldrinkx in two). If your diet consists mainly of real foods, you can enjoy a little sweetener, where it’s artificial or not.


9.  always gorge after a workout. Bad habit?


This is actually the best time to have your largest meal of the day - as long as it’s reasonable size and not a full-on feast. That’s because you’ve just reduced your body’s fuel reserves and food can help aid your recovery. Plus, when your body is in a recovery state, incoming kilojoules and nutrients stand a better change of being absorbed by muscle tissue instead of being stored in fat tissue. If your goal is to curb uncontrollable hunger after a workout, try lean beef, poultry or fish - protein-rich foods tend to be very filling. Pair that meat with whole-food, high-fibre carbohydrate sources such as beans. Fibre is another element that can help you feel satiated quickly.


You don’t need to spend hours on a t readmill to burn belly fat. Training at a  high intensity using weig hts and short rest periods is vast...


September 2022

You don’t need to spend hours on a t readmill to burn belly fat. Training at a  high intensity using weig hts and short rest periods is vastly more effective. ‘All you need is a weight plate and 15 minutes,’ says Steve  Kowalenko, acoach at W10 Performance (, who created this minimalist complex. Just pick up a weight plate and perform all six moves back to back without setting it down. Add it to the end of one of your currentsessions as a finisher, using the table opposite to create a four-week plan. ‘You’ll be using most of your body’smuscle mass, so you’ll keep torching fat long after you’ve finished,’ Kowalenko says. Now that’s service.


Hold a weight plate at chest height with both arms outstretched. Rotate the plate as far as you can to the left as if turning a steering wheel, then to the right to complete one rep.


Bend your legs and lower the weight pl ate to shin height. Then, keeping your chest up and your back straight, drive up, bringingthe plate up and pressing it overhead.


With the plate overhead, take a big step forward. Lower until your back knee is just off the floor, keeping your knee in line with your foot, then drive back up. Repeat with the other leg to complete one rep. Alternate sides.


From standing, hold the plate at head height. Keeping your core tight and head still, circle it around your head in one direction, then go back in the other direction to return to the start and complete one rep.


Holding the plate toyo ur chest, lower in toa squat, then drive up powerfully throughyour heels so that you leave the g round. Bend your legs to soften your landing and continue straight into the next rep.


Hold the plate in front of your chest with your arms bent. Take a big step forwards with one leg. As you lower your back knee, rotate your torso to the same side as your leading leg. Reverse the move to the start and repeat on the other leg to complete one rep. Keep alternating sides.


Repeat this workout tow or three times a week, aiming to use weight you can complete the whole complex with so you don't have to put it down.

Sets 3 Reps 6
Rest 90sec

Sets 3 Reps 8
Rest 90sec

Sets 3 Reps 10
Rest 60sec

Sets 4 Reps 10
Rest 60sec

If ever there was a warning sign about future health problems,  it’s a bulging middle. That’s because underneath the wobbly bits (subcutaneo...


September 2022

If ever there was a warning sign about future health problems,  it’s a bulging middle. That’s because underneath the wobbly bits (subcutaneous fat), we also get below-the-muscle visceral fat which wraps itself around our internal organs and pumps out chemicals called cytokines linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Belly fat has also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, dementia and even gallstones. The good news is that it is one of the easier fats to shift. Here’s what you need to know.


Kilojoule-cutting isn’t the sole solution to shedding belly fat as you’ll also lose muscle mass, and it’s important to maintain that mass as we age. Also, dieting can paradoxically increase fat storage so focus on vegetables, fruits, wholegrains and lean proteins, which help in the battle against belly fat. Here is what researchers recommend:

➤ An apple a day. Increasing your daily soluble fibre intake by ,just 10g can reduce visceral fat
by 3.7 per cent, shows a US study. An example of 10g of, soluble fibre is two small apples plus one cup of green peas and one half cup of kidney beans.
➤ Cut down on carbs. In a US study one group ate a diet with 55 per cent carbs and the other received only 43 per cent carbs. Those on the lower carb diet lost 11 percent more deep abdominal fat.
➤ Go PRO. A study in Japan found regular consumption  of the probiotic Lactobacillus  gasseri, present in yoghurt and  kefir, reduces abdominal fat. The study found that taking very small amounts of the probiotic for 12 weeks decreased belly fat by 4.6 per cent.
➤ Brown is better. Cutting out white bread, but not brown, is linked with lower gains in abdominal fat, say Spanish researchers.
➤ Ii's good to be green. Drinking green tea resulted in a significant reduction in visceral fat, according to a study from Peking University in China.
➤ Bye-Bye bacon and butter. Eating excess saturated fat, found in foods such as butter, bacon and palm oil, appears to cause a greater increase in belly fat than polyunsaturated fat, from fish, nuts, sun?  ower and olive oils, says Swedish research. Over-consumption of saturated fats seems to turn on genes that increase belly fat storage and hamper insulin regulation.


High intensity interval training (HIIT), is great for improving fitness, but researchers say the best way to get rid of belly fat is regular continuous aerobic exercise. Even better, the latest research from University of Sydney confirms that aerobic exercise at any level will have benefits in reducing belly fat and those benefits begin the moment you step out of the door and get your heart rate up. Keating, who conducted the research, says:

➤ The longer, harder and more often you exercise, the greater the benefits. Groups who did low-intensity exercise four times a week or medium-to-high-intensity exercise three times a week lost more visceral, subcutaneous and liver fat than groups who did only three low-intensity sessions a week. But all three groups got benefits, s owever unfit or busy you are, it is worth doing something.
➤ Aim for at least 240 minutes a week of low-to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 135 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Exercising for at least 30 minutes continuously will give best results but if you can only fit in two 15-minute bursts that’s better than nothing.
➤ If you’re a jogger or walker, a study by Duke University Medical Center found that completing at least 27km per week leads to a loss of both visceral and subcutaneous fat.
➤ The more exercise you do the better the results, so the best exercise to choose is the one you’ll enjoy and commit to. It’s worth also considering additional benefits. If you’ve got painful joints, choose swimming and cycling. To build bone mass, choose skipping. If you’re anxious and stressed (which can also increase belly fat) get outdoors and try bushwalking.
➤ If you have impaired glucose tolerance/insulin resistance, high-intensity interval training has been shown to be very effective, although fast intervals are not the best  solution for belly fat if exercising for a short time only. An indoor cycle or circuit training class would be a good option.
➤ The worst thing you can do is nothing. The Duke University study found that a group of non-exercisers experienced a visceral fat gain of almost nine per cent in just six months.

Your Starbucks latte? 300 calories. That seemingly healthy salad from a fast food joint? 600 calories. The bag of processed chips you just g...


September 2022

Your Starbucks latte? 300 calories. That seemingly healthy salad from a fast food joint? 600 calories. The bag of processed chips you just grabbed at work? 200 calories.

According to recent surveys, almost every American is underestimating how many calories they consume in a day. In fact, the average person consumes more than 3,600 calories, which is well over the recommended amount for a normal person, no matter their gender or weight.

Unfortunately, American culture often fosters food addiction and habits of overeating. Instead of eating several small meals throughout the day, we gorge ourselves on two or three big ones and are told to clean our plates. Instead of cooking at home, we spend thousands of dollars at restaurants and chain eateries. TV dinners are the norm, and greasy-fried foods are weeknight staples.

This culture of high-calorie consumption and unhealthy eating has only increased America’s obesity epidemic, and if things continue to progress as they have over the past decade, more than 100 million Americans will be dramatically overweight in the near future.

If you’re someone who frequently eats past the point of being full or who snacks purely to satiate feelings of boredom, you’re certainly not alone. However, overeating is a habit you want to nip in the bud ASAP, if not for the sake of your appearance, then for the sake of your heart and overall health.

Here are the five big steps to take if you want to kick the habit in the butt, once and for all. It’ll take time to stop overeating, but with dedication, anyone can learn to quit.


When you’re chowing down on pizza while watching The Bachelor or quickly grabbing a lunch while driving between client meetings, you’re not truly paying attention to how much food you put in your body.

Instead of focusing on something else while you feed yourself, turn your attention solely to the meal. Pay attention to how fast you’re eating, when you start to feel full, and how each bite tastes. Not only will you start to enjoy your meals more, but you’ll also find that you consume fewer calories unintentionally.


It’s no secret that drinking water can help with weight loss. By filling your stomach with zero-calorie liquid, you’ll speed up your metabolism and convince your brain that you’re feeling full without eating.

Try drinking a full glass of water before you even start on your meal. You’ll find that you’re less likely to clean your plate if your stomach is already brimming with water, plus you’ll digest your food more effectively and steer clear of bloating.


As great as a Snickers bar probably sounds at about 3:00 PM, that won’t keep you feeling full until you get home for dinner. When snack time rolls around, reach for foods that are high in fiber and protein. These will prevent you from overeating when you’re starving later in the evening and keep your calorie consumption more evenly dispersed throughout the day.


Sometimes, your brain needs to catch up with your stomach before it can send signals saying “I’m full, stop eating!” That’s why it’s smart to put your fork down once you feel about 80 percent full. This will give your brain the chance to assess your appetite and decide if you’re satisfied. You might be surprised by how often you decide you don’t really want a second helping, even when you initially thought you did.


A big part of eating the right amount of food each day is thinking about your meals in advance. If you know you’ll indulge in a fair amount of greasy food at dinner with your friends tonight, have a lighter lunch and monitor your PORTION SIZES during the evening. When you go to an extravagant BRUNCH on a Sunday morning, don’t force yourself to eat a normal dinner like you usually would. Listen to your body and prepare for certain meals accordingly to avoid feeling stuffed at the end of the day.

Plyometric training is more than simply jumping up and down to improve vertical leap performance. This form of training, when performed corr...


September 2022

Plyometric training is more than simply jumping up and down to improve vertical leap performance. This form of training, when performed correctly, can induce tremendous improvements in muscle tone and shape that, when combined with intense resistance training, can potently improve overall fitness and make you leaner, tighter and stronger.

Plyometric training can be used to train most body parts, including the upper body, where there are some fantastic plyometric movements that will make you more sculpted, toned and shaplier— not to mention the plethora of well- established plyometric jumping movements that generate tremendous lower-body functional fitness. So, while many dismiss plyometric training as solely for the athlete, the ability of plyometric training to sculpt your body and make you stronger, especially when used in conjunction with weight training, makes it a great training modality for anyone trying to get into better shape.

1. Most Effective Exercises

The standard plyometric workout consists of five to six sets within the five- to eight-repetition range, and approximately 90 seconds of rest between each set. The most effective plyometric exercises typically utilize just your bodyweight with no additional resistance. Some of the more popular and effective plyometric movements include box jumps, squat jumps and plyometric push-ups— which are one of my favorite plyometric exercises that may be added as a finishing movement when you train chest, to improve muscle tone.

2. Correct Form Is Key

Like most training methods, plyometrics must be done correctly to be effective. With plyometric training, that means the movement must be performed very rapidly to efficiently stretch the trained muscle during the eccentric phase. In addition, the concentric contraction must instantaneously follow the eccentric phase.

The quick stretch of the muscle tissue during the eccentric phase of plyometric training triggers certain sensors within muscle tissue known as proprioceptors that reflexively boost muscular contraction force during the concentric phase.2 One of the proprioceptors activated by rapid muscle stretching during plyometric training is the muscle spindle, which detects the quick elongation of the muscle and initiates muscular contraction to prevent further stretching and possible muscle damage.

The second proprioceptor influenced by plyometrics is the Golgi tendon organ (GTO), which typically prevents central nervous system (CNS) activation of muscular contraction, specifically when the muscle is contracting very forcefully to also prevent muscle damage. However, the quick lengthening of the muscle from plyometric training actually inhibits the GTO, which ultimately boosts CNS-activated muscular contraction during the concentric phase.

3. Improve Muscle Tone

Enhanced muscular contraction during the concentric phase from plyometric work will conceivably contribute to improvements in muscle tone and strength on its own. However, the most powerful training effect from plyometric movements stems from the substantial increase in CNS-activated muscular contraction, which not only improves power but should also yield greater gains in lean body mass– as enhanced power production stresses the muscle tissue. In fact, several studies show that plyometric training effectively increases muscular contraction intensity due to an increase in neural recruitment of additional muscle fibers4,5, which improves lean body mass, muscle tone and strength— thus validating the notion that increased power from plyometric training can improve overall fitness and pave the way for hypertrophic gains.

4. Become More Powerful

Because resistance exercise increases the size and contraction force of individual muscle fibers, while plyometric training primarily increases the quantity of muscle fibers contributing to muscular contraction, combining plyometrics with weight training should provide a synergistic increase in contractile forces by making each individual muscle fiber stronger— while simultaneously increasing the activation of these larger, more powerful muscle fibers, resulting in increases in strength. In fact, several studies have confirmed that plyometric training combined with weight training produced superior gains in muscle strength and power, relative to using either training method alone.

5. A Complement to Weight Training

Despite the common belief that plyometric training only bolsters muscle strength and power but does not improve lean body mass, several studies have actually demonstrated that plyometric training induces considerable muscle hypertrophy, particularly when combined with lifting weights.

A study by Kubo et al.6 showed that 12 weeks of plyometric work induced a significant increase of five percent in muscle size in the lower leg, and this effect was similar to the muscle growth stimulated by a 12-week weight-training program. A second study10 reported that combining plyometrics with resistance training generates a large increase in fast-twitch muscle fiber size of approximately 20 percent within the upper leg.

Overall, the data reveals that plyometric training, alone or in combination with resistance training, can trigger muscle growth, and the increases in lean body mass associated with plyometric training appear to be enhanced when combined with intense weight training— making plyometrics a complementary approach to standard weight training.

6. Plyometrics for a Hormonal Jump

While testosterone is a hormone that is mainly associated with men, women produce testosterone also. In fact, it’s a very important hormone for women if they want to tone their bodies. Production of the so-called “male hormone” is notably lower in women than in men, so any natural method to increase testosterone should be of interest to fit women.

Testosterone plays a key role in stimulating improvements in lean body mass in response to resistance training. In order to see if combining resistance exercise with plyometric training, or complex training, might produce greater increases in lean body mass by boosting levels of the anabolic hormone testosterone, a study by Beaven et al.11 compared the influence of combining plyometric training with weights on serum testosterone levels, relative to performing resistance training alone. The results of the study showed that subjects performing resistance training that involved heavy box squats followed by plyometric jump squats had the largest spike in serum testosterone levels of 13 percent. This hormonal response after the strength- plyometric bout suggests that this exercise sequence, resistance work followed by plyometrics, provides a superior anabolic environment that conceivably supports greater increases in lean body mass.

Combining resistance exercise with plyometric training will do more than increase lean body mass and improve muscle tone. The more lean mass your body carries, the faster you will burn fat. Muscle acts like a furnace, burning fat 24/7. Incorporating a strength-plyometric bout into your workout program will enable you to increase your lean body mass at an expedited rate, for a slimmer, toned and shapelier figure.

7. Improved Performance

There are essentially two major types of muscle fiber; slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers, where the fast-twitch fiber contracts roughly four times faster than slow-twitch fibers12, giving the fast-twitch fiber a greater force- producing capacity. Several animal studies have shown that plyometric training can increase the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers by actually transforming slow-twitch fibers into fast-twitch fibers. Another investigation by Malisoux et al.16 also found a significant increase in the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers in the lower leg muscles of humans after performing lower body plyometric training.

Collectively, the results of these studies show that plyometric training can increase the composition of fast- twitch muscle fibers, which likely increases strength and power because of the fibers’ greater force-producing capabilities, representing an additional performance- enhancing effect associated with plyometric training.

The use of plyometric training, especially when combined with resistance work, potently enhances performance for enhanced function in the gym— ultimately promoting greater increases in lean body mass for a more toned and sculpted, leaner, shapelier body. So, forget the false notion that plyometric training is just for the athlete. It’s for any woman who wants to get in better shape, get toned and become stronger.

A few key hormones that affect ab fat can dictate whether you cinch your belt or let it out a few notches. So what is it about the midsectio...


September 2022

A few key hormones that affect ab fat can dictate whether you cinch your belt or let it out a few notches. So what is it about the midsection that makes flab want to hang around it so much? You have a cadre of hormones always at the ready to usher fat into the most convenient storage units—that is, those in your core, close to your organs, explains Aaron M. Cypess, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. But here’s the upside: You can manipulate your hormones and get them to work in your waistline’s favour. You’re about to learn how.

1. Know your fat hoarders

They are cortisol, insulin, and testosterone. At normal levels, however, they don’t actually cause belly fat. It’s when their levels are consistently high that the flab gets stockpiled. “In fact, having belly fat is a key indicator of hormonal imbalance,” says Sara Gottfried, M.D., the author of The Hormone Reset Diet.

When you’re stressed, your body starts cranking out cortisol, which releases fat from fat stores and dumps it into the blood- stream to give the liver and other organs energy to deal with the perceived threat. Whatever fat isn’t used gets stored in ab tissue, which houses four times as many cortisol receptors as fat-storage units in other areas of the body, meaning that with chronic stress, cortisol just keeps parking fat in your middle.

The situation then becomes a vicious circle—the more belly fat you have, the more cortisol you naturally produce. At times when you can lessen your stress, the cortisol circulating in your system becomes inactive and is eventually filtered out by the liver and kidneys. “But fat tis- sue contains an enzyme called HSD that can switch on inactive cortisol before your organs can get rid of it,” says Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., the author of The Cortisol Connection.

Insulin also packs on belly fat. Its job is to shuttle glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream and to store it, either in the liver to be used as energy or in fat tissue. Eat more calories than your body needs and insulin stashes the excess in ab fat stores, explains Martha Belury, Ph.D., a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University.

Then there’s testosterone, the male sex hormone. In men, it has been shown to help release fat from abdominal fat stores so it can be used for energy. But in women, high levels are associ- ated with belly fat, a study in the journal Metabolism found. Researchers aren’t sure why this occurs, but studies of women with polycystic ovary syndrome—a condition that involves high levels of testoster- one and ab fat accumulation— suggests that insulin may play a role in the process.

The good news: All of these culprits can be tamed more easily than may you think.

2. Get more sleep and tea

“One night of poor sleep and you already disrupt your cortisol pro- duction. Miss as little as two hours of sleep a night for three nights and you can increase cortisol by 50 percent,” Talbott explains. (The body reads sleep deprivation as stress and jacks up cortisol to deal with it.) Talbott recommends get- ting eight hours of sleep a night or, at the very least, making sure that the six hours you do get is as deep and restful as possible and that you take a nap during the day. A Penn State study found that a two-hour nap reverses the cortisol effects of crappy sleep the night before. Even an hour has benefits, Talbott says.

Drinking tea can help curtail cortisol too. British researchers found that drinking caffeinated black tea four times a day for six weeks lowered cortisol. “We don’t know what is responsible for this effect, but it could be the theaflavins or another flavonoid,” says study researcher Andrew Steptoe, the director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care University College London. Other ways to add flavonoids to your diet include eating at least five daily servings of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.

3. Cut back on carbs

The best way to lower insulin is to eat a low-carbohydrate diet, which helps prevent fat stor- age and encourages fat burning. Insulin wants your body to use sugar instead of fat for energy, so it locks up fat stores. “But if you follow a low-carb diet, your body will produce less insulin, allowing fat to be released into the blood so it can be burned off,” Belury says. Aim for a diet in which your daily calories come from 50 percent healthy carbs, 30 percent healthy fats, and 20 percent lean protein.

Fill your plate with satiating low-carb foods like lean meat, fish, poultry, and eggs; non- starchy veggies like lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli; high- fiber fruits like apples and berries; and whole grains like bulgur and oats, Belury suggests.

According to Dr. Gottfried, that low-carb diet is also key to lowering testosterone. And because zinc deficiency is associated with high testosterone levels in women, she suggests eating foods high in this mineral, such as green beans, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Another tactic: Eat small meals throughout the day. New research from Ohio State University found that skipping meals can lead to a greater accumulation of belly fat. In the study, one group of mice had unlimited access to food, while another group fasted and then gorged themselves. The fasting group gained more abdominal fat even though both groups of mice ultimately ended
up consuming the same amount. Why? The fasting group’s insulin spiked so highly that it led to insulin resistance, which causes fat storage in the abdominal area. “Eating small meals could help some people maintain steadier levels of insulin throughout the day,” says Belury, the study’s author.

4. Flip on your fat burners

As much as you want to lower fat- storing hormones, you also need to boost fat-springing chemicals. Catecholamine hormones (these elicit the fight-or-flight response) and growth hormone (this promotes muscle growth) release fat from stores so it can be delivered to the muscles for energy. You can trigger the production of these hormones by doing high-intensity training (HIIT) workouts.

One last piece of the puzzle: The hormone adiponectin helps ensure that freed fats are actually burned off by muscles, a process called fat oxidation. A study at the National Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City found that low levels of adiponectin are associated with belly fat and insu- lin resistance.

“The most effective way to normalise your adiponectin is to lose weight, because the more fat you have, the lower your levels of it are,” says Dr. Gottfried, who also suggests eating one or more servings a day of magnesium- packed foods, including kale and spinach. (A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming magnesium had a positive effect on adiponectin.)

Lace up and stop letting your hormones call the shots. You’ll slim your belly like never before. 

Endless gym sessions and green juices won’t always result in a defined, flat stomach. Whether it’s stress, bloating, dehydration or posture,...


September 2022

Endless gym sessions and green juices won’t always result in a defined, flat stomach. Whether it’s stress, bloating, dehydration or posture, there are a few things that may be holding you back from achieving the toned tummy of your dreams. So if you are counting down to that beach holiday, or simply want to look better in your jeans, try these easy steps to achieving your desired results.

#1. Eat smart

Sadly, no amount of crunches or sit—ups will give you the toned tummy of a Victoria’s Secret model if you’re living on a diet of cupcakes and cocktails. In order to  unveil the abs you’ve been working hard on, it’s essential to eat the right type of food to help shed any stubborn belly fat that’s covering them up. Try potassium rich food, such as avocados, leafy green veg (like spinach) and bananas, to reduce any water retention and help you feel less bloated.

#2. Drink up! (water, that is)

When we’re dehydrated, our bodies fight to retain water, which leaves us feeling bloated and sluggish. Many of us also confuse feeling thirsty with being hungry, leading to lots of snacking throughout the day. To curb any cravings, aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated will also prevent you from retaining water by flushing out excess salt in your body. If you find it difficult to drink tap water, try adding cucumber, mint, or lemon to make it more interesting.

#3. Fake it

If you need to be beach-ready within a short space of time, fake tan may be your best friend. Applied properly, it can make your stomach appear more defined and your waist slimmer. If you’re worried about looking too dark, try a build-up self-tanning moisturizer. Make sure to exfoliate first to smoothe your skin and remove any dead skin cells, then massage the product in using circular motions to boost circulation and give you a natural-looking glow.

#4. HIIT it up

High intensity interval Training, or HIIT, alternates periods of pushing your body to its limit with periods of rest. So instead of pounding the treadmill for an hour, try 20 minutes of 20-second sprints alternating with 40-second rest periods.


#5. Work your whole core

Exercises like the infamous ‘plank’ are more effective than crunches as they target your obliques, lower back and arms, as well as your abdominals. For the best results, make sure your shoulders are in line with you elbows, pull your tummy in and squeeze your glutes.


#6. Take a sip

Having herbal tea after your eat aids digestion and reduces that feeling of ‘fullness’. I always have fennel, peppermint or dandelion tea after meals. peppermint is a natural anti-spasmodic, which reduces bloating and discomfort.


#7. A tall order

Lots of us are guilty of slouching, but by standing nice and tall, you’ll create the appearance of a flatter tummy. Next time you’re waiting in a queue, do a quick body scan to check your posture. Stand up tall, roll your shoulders back, and imagine there’s a string pulling you up from the top of your head. Next, tuck your belly button in to engage your core. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more you practise, the more comfortable it’ll become.


#8. Chill out and unwind

When we make an effort to be healthier, we tend to only focus on our diet and physical health, and often neglect our mental health. However, cortisol, the hormone released when we’re stressed, may be the reason why you’re not seeing results. Cortisol plays havoc with our waistline encourages the storage of fat around the middle. So make time each day to unwind. If you have the space, create a chill-out zone dedicated solely to relaxation - it could even be a corner of your bedroom. Fill it with cushions, candles, dim lights and books, whatever you find soothing, and leave all technology outside the room.