These days, most people know that nutrition is extremely important in the quest for weight loss and/or ideal body composition. Yes, weight training and exercise go hand-in-hand but nutrition definitely has that upper hand. It's easy to tell yourself that you'll "work off" what you're eating later but the truth of the matter is.... you simply cannot out train a poor diet.
However, with all the fitness gadgets on the market, it's no wonder many people think otherwise... especially when it comes to the abdominal region and attempting to remove the layer of fat that may be covering it (aka "hang belly" as a friend of mine calls it). Being a personal trainer, one of the most common questions that gym members ask me is, "What is the best exercise to lose fat around my belly?"
|Um, no. Not the answer. Even that guy looks like he'd rather be doing anything but this exercise.|
The first thing I always say is, "You can't spot-reduce fat. Nutrition plays the bigger role here" and then proceed to ask about their diet. The answer I get is usually something along the lines of, "Oh, I eat really healthy most of the time! I hardly have any calories for breakfast, usually just a coffee because I'm not hungry in the morning and I have a salad with just veggies and fat-free dressing for lunch and something healthy for dinner like a Lean Cuisine. I can't give up my nightly glass of wine though and my co-workers keep baking and bringing in all these yummy treats, it's just so hard to say no!" You get the picture.
Now, I'm not a nutritionist and would never specifically advise someone about what they should eat on a daily basis. However, I have a pretty good idea of what a clean diet consists of and what the better alternatives are for fat loss. Eating less, NOT eating lean protein, giving in to nightly indulgences and choosing processed food over real food is pretty much guaranteeing yourself that those fat cells are not going to shrink anytime soon... no matter how much you tell yourself you will "work it off".
All too often I hear statements like, "That's it, I'm going to cut ALL sugar out of my diet", "I'm NEVER drinking alcohol again!" or "I'm going to start going to the gym EVERY day!" The problem with this "all or nothing" approach, however, is that it doesn't allow room for error or setbacks, thereby setting you up for failure. Plus, life isn't about all work, no play... or in this case- all veggies, no dessert :)
Start small. Think about ONE realistic step you can make today (not Monday... today) that will get you moving in the right direction towards shedding belly fat. Declaring that you are NEVER eating cookies again is not realistic, nor is it advisable. I mean, what kind of life is a cookie-free life? A sad one, quite honestly. Having said that, cookies are not a food group and shouldn't be included in your daily nutrition plan.... not if your goal is fat loss.
Instead, you could start setting aside 20-30 minutes every Saturday or Sunday to batch cook a healthy meal that you can grab and go for breakfast instead of stopping at Dunkin' Donuts every day for a bagel and cream cheese. Or how about making this yummy cocoa concoction for an after-dinner treat to satisfy your sweet tooth in lieu of ice cream? After all, it's about progress, not perfection.
Check out this great post that goes into much more detail about the abs, how they work and how to coax them out of hiding.
What's ONE thing you will start doing today to make a healthy change in your lifestyle?