To reduce abdominal, visceral fat it must be utilised as an energy source. That is what fat is – a source of energy to power your body, particularly when at low levels of activity. Generally, your body will source energy in the most economic way, starting with glucose already in the blood stream, then releasing stored carbohydrates from liver, muscle and elsewhere to top up the blood sugar, and then to break down stored fat and convert it to accessible energy metabolites.
To prompt your body to target fat stores for required energy (used for moving, thinking, digesting, etc) you need to reduce the intake of energy through food and drink PLUS train the body to go to fat stores more readily as a preferred source.
The following strategies have been shown to develop this new way of sourcing and processing your energy stores (fat). They take time to work, to reprogram your biochemical pathways and rewire your brain and how it relates to food, eating, dining out, cooking, shopping, etc.
You should stick to your plan for at least three months to give it a chance of success. During this time you can change strategy but don’t give up.
Eating less quantity of food.
If you are from the generation trained to clear their plate you need to put less on it. Don’t be afraid to leave left-overs.
You can trick your eyes by using a smaller plate/bowl so the smaller food serving appears to fill to the edges rather than be dwarfed in the centre.
This strategy is reinforced by eating more slowly, for example more chewing or putting the cutlery down between mouthfuls. Use a teaspoon with dessert.
Also, you can pre-load with water before (or during) eating so you feel satisfied with less food.
When downsizing your servings, you can still be generous with vegetables (low energy, high fibre) but stricter with processed food or animal products (high fat).
Replace energy dense, lower nutrition food with more girth-friendly options.
- Replace, for example, red meat with white meat or fish; white bread with wholemeal or multigrain; white rice with brown, low fat versions of dairy, sugar substitutes; and sweet desserts with a glass of water.
- Regarding drinks, substitute zero-alcohol beer for your usual preference and don’t add sweet mixers to spirits (if that’s your thing). When it comes to rum and coke there may be more girth damage in the coke than in the rum.
Become Comfortable with Hunger
You won’t starve, your fat reserves will save you.
- Here in Australia, food is plentiful for most of us. Yet we have trained ourselves to respond to the slightest pang of hunger by seeking food.
- Becoming comfortable with hunger will permit our body to mobilise energy from stored fat.
- Use water to reduce the hunger pangs, and delay reaching for food for another hour or so. Or tomorrow.
- Going to bed hungry won’t keep you awake. But thinking it will.
There are many versions of this, here are three. You can switch plans, but don’t try following more than one plan at once. You can read an independent overview of intermittent fasting here.
The 5:2 Plan.
For five days each week you can eat as you please. For the other two days you limit your intake to around 600 calories. On those days you will be hungry but only have to wait until tomorrow to eat what you want.
The 16:8 Plan
Complete all your nutritional on-boarding within an 8 hour period, then don’t eat again for 16 hours. No limit on food choices. You can drink water during the no-eat hours. Consider finishing your evening meal by 5pm and delaying breakfast until 9am. Everyday or most days. Adjust times to suit circumstances.
Without too much forethought, skip a few meals through the week. Vary which meal and spread them out. Be spontaneous, to avoid anticipating the skip and pre-loading. At other times eat as you feel. Perhaps start with two skips per week, then try three but never sequential.
NOTE: if you have any metabolic diseases such as Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Metabolic Syndrome or such,
check with your medical practitioner before commencing any form of intermittent fasting.
Meal Substitution Protein Shakes
Make your own or use a commercial product.
- For a sustained period (at least two weeks continuously) consume a protein shake instead of a meal at least once per day and no more than twice per day.
- This is a useful entry point to restructuring your eating habits, and after two weeks you can try one of the other strategies.
- Consume these shakes slowly, if they are chilled they will stay in your stomach a little longer perhaps helping you feel satisfied.
- Be ready to feel hungry.
- If you make your own, don’t inflate the quantity – stick to the recipe.
Just One Thing Option
This is a very simple strategy: choose one regular (and perhaps too frequent) food or beverage group and totally exclude it from your intake for the four months. Cold Turkey. No, not give up cold turkey, just give up something you feel is working against your girth. Here are some examples:
- Alcohol (very powerful strategy on lots of levels)
- Red meat
- Processed Meat (sausages, salami, bacon, etc.)
- SUGAR – added sugar in drinks or sweetened desserts
- Second Servings of anything (you can combine this with any of the above)
When you feel you have nailed one exclusion, you can then choose another one. Without backsliding on the first one!