Many people (especially men) find that they accumulate abdominal fat that’s very hard to get rid of. This is especially true as they get older. Even if you exercise regularly, belly fat can gather and hang around your midsection. You can readily find advice on how to target this area of your body to lose the stubborn girth but wouldn’t it be nice to know how to prevent it in the first place? We’re here to tell you how.
What Causes Belly Fat: 4 Nutrition Myths
Here’s how to increase your metabolism to lose belly fat.
1. False: Eating Small Meals Throughout the Day Will Speed up Your Metabolism.
Your metabolism is your metabolism regardless of how often or how much you eat. Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that take place in the body.
There are two types of metabolism that occur:
- Anabolism uses energy to synthesize necessary compounds from nutrients. Examples of the results of anabolic metabolism include creating new cells, maintaining tissue integrity.
- Catabolism breaks down molecules into smaller pieces, releasing energy. Examples: complex carbohydrates broken down into glucose, proteins broken into amino acids.
Body weight is the result of the balance between the amount of energy we take in minus the amount we expend. Major factors that affect metabolism are diet and nutrition, exercise, and sleep. (1)
Eating smaller meals during the day won’t affect your metabolism but it will help to regulate your blood sugar. (2) It can also help to keep you from over-eating. A small study of obese women found that six meals a day at regular intervals had benefits over an irregular eating schedule for cholesterol levels, energy expenditure, and insulin sensitivity. (3) A regular eating pattern is more important than the eating pattern itself. Find the schedule that works best for you and stick with it.
2. False: Extreme Low-Calorie Diets Will Lead to Faster Weight Loss.
This may be the worst and most pervasive myth when it comes to metabolism and weight loss. In the abstract, it sounds like a good idea: take in fewer calories than you use and you’ll lose weight. Except for the metabolism factor: reduced caloric intake makes your body go into starvation mode and resting metabolism will slow down to ensure you have enough fuel for survival.
To accomplish weight loss and increase metabolism while decreasing caloric intake, exercise more! A moderate increase in metabolism is achieved with increased physical activity. (4) To gain and maintain good health, you need a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and the right kinds of fats. What you eat is more important than the number of calories each food individually contains.
3. True: All Calories are not Created Equal.
When it comes to weight loss, consider the rates at which different nutrients are burned during digestion:
- twenty to thirty percent of proteins
- six percent of carbohydrates
- three percent of fat
The majority of your daily calories should, therefore, come from protein.
As an example, more of the one thousand calories worth of chicken will be used in the digestive process than one thousand calories of pasta, leading to greater weight loss. Thermogenesis refers to the amount of heat the body produces when it burns food for energy. Alcohols and proteins generate more heat in their digestion than carbs and fats. Furthermore, proteins lead to greater satiety, so you feel full after eating less in volume. (5)
4. False (mostly): Eating Late at Night Leads to Weight Gain.
Let’s first qualify: eating after 6:00 p.m. won’t cause you to pack on pounds depending on what and how much you eat.
The British Journal of Nutrition published a study in 2016 of children aged four to eighteen years and found that the timing of their evening meals didn’t increase the risk of weight gain or obesity. (6) If you eat at 6:00 p.m., again at 8:00, and again at 11:00, however, you’ve probably eaten more than you need and that’s what will affect your weight. If you eat a salad, it’ll take longer to digest than a bowl of ice cream.
Dessert is a sticky point when it comes to weight loss efforts. This type of food is usually the first to be cut from our diets, especially after dinner. We now know that added and refined sugars lead to inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, skin problems, and other health issues. Denying yourself a sweet treat, however, can eventually cause you to cave in and overeat, even regaining any weight you may have lost.
A study performed by the U.S. Endocrine Society found that if you eat dessert—whatever it may be—after a hearty morning meal rather than after your evening meal, you may experience decreased hunger and fewer cravings during the day.
“The goal of a weight loss diet should be not only weight reduction but also reduction of hunger and cravings, thus helping prevent weight regain”, said the study’s lead researcher. (7)
The remarkable bonus is that you can still enjoy (in moderation) the dessert you crave!
The body is an infinitely complex machine. Weight loss is a concerted effort, not one simple act. For every conscious action you take, there’s a physical reaction. Knowing the facts about how your body’s metabolism works will help you to make the best choices for yourself and your weight loss goals.