Belly Fat Culprits: Items to Avoid

Tips_To_Avoid_Belly_FatBelly fat – or those extra inches you can pinch around your middle – has been linked to some serious health issues. If you’re like many of my fitness clients, getting rid of belly fat is on their workout wish list. In a previous post, I shared ideas on what to add to your diet or exercise regimen to target belly fat.

Today, let’s turn that around a bit and zero in on those items to avoid.

Belly Fat Culprits

I often tell my clients not to expect perfection. Even so, if you can minimize these four culprits, you’ll be on your way to a flatter tummy.

1. Overdoing It With Alcohol

In moderation alcohol isn’t bad for you. There are numerous studies citing where a glass of wine can actually contribute to a healthy lifestyle. It’s when you have three plus drinks in a day — even infrequently — you may be adding to your belly fat. Overdoing it with alcohol not only dehydrates you, it is sabotaging your efforts to lose unwanted pounds.  My recommendation is to space out your drinking. I’ve found that limiting consumption to a specific day (like a weekend evening) so you have no more than a glass or two is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

2. Trans Fat ConsumptionChips_Have_Trans_Fat

Even if you’re watching your calorie consumption, food with trans fat can cause belly fat weight gain. Trans fats are found in processed food like salty snacks. Get into the habit of checking labels. Trans fat is known to hide in unusual places like bran cereals, and reduced or low fat ice creams.

3. Minor Stress

I can hear you now… living in Silicon Valley comes with stress!  Even so, figuring out how to reduce your stress can help release that stubborn belly fat. A University of California San Francisco study found that those eaters who didn’t relax five minutes before they ate actually gained more weight. Whatever you choose to eat, take a few minutes to relax first. Then, practice mindful eating — where you pay attention to your food rather than on electronic gadgets. Most likely you’ll find that you’ll get fuller faster and feel more satisfied.

Another way to reduce your stress is regular exercise. If the idea of walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes sounds boring, it’s probably an indication you need variety in your work outs. Try a boot camp or zumba class. People who exercise regularly have less belly fat and are better able to cope with life’s normal stress levels.

4) Added Sugar

Added sugar is in SO many things like salad dressings, jarred pasta sauce, fruit flavored yogurt, and juices.  Read your labels!  If you eat  packaged foods, you may be eating quite a bit of added sugar.  Studies have shown that added sugar in the American diet is making people fatter.  There’s a reason some researchers now call big waistlines “sugar bellies”.


This week as you eat your meals, look at the 4 things to avoid above and see what you can do to minimize some of the “Belly Fat Builders” in your normal eating routine.

Remember, every little thing you do to eat just a little better makes a difference.  Occasional indulgences are fine.  Pig out once in awhile!  It’s the things you do (or don’t do!) on a daily basis that create the body you’re living in today.


Photo attributions:

Man on Bench:

Chips and Salsa:


Belly Fat Be Gone

If you are among the few who were blessed with phenomenal genes or have found the tricks of the trade for getting the much coveted flat abs, you are fortunate but certainly in the minority. Around the globe, people continue to battle belly fat and science shows that the stomach or abdominal region is among the most challenging areas to lost unwanted fat and keep it off. Fortunately there are some valuable exercises that can help you along, but more importantly, when it comes to getting rid of belly fat, the foods that you eat play a large role in the diameter of your abdominal area. With a few simple adjustments to your diet and the incorporation of some belly fat fighting foods, you will be much closer to your goal of shedding unwanted inches from this area.


Much of the fat within the stomach region comes from the sugars that we eat which causes our blood sugar level to increase drastically. When those levels spike, it sends signals to our bodies that we need to hang on to the sugar we have for survival and thus, all that sugar remains comfortably in your midsection.

One key ingredient that will deter those signals from reaching the brain is called mono-saturated fats. Avocados provide a rich source of these fats which will keep your blood sugar from spiking, allowing your body to digest and dispose of those sugars.


Bananas are healthy for a myriad of reasons, but as far as belly fat and bloating, their essential component is potassium, which helps dilute and regulate the salt we ingest that is found in many foods. Sodium, or salt, causes our bodies to retain much more water than is necessary and causes the stomach area to bloat and swell. By eating bananas which have as much as 400 or more grams of potassium, the sodium is regulated and thus produces less swelling.


Berries are fortified with vitamins and antioxidants which are essential in increasing the flow of blood throughout the body; it also allows oxygen to reach our core muscle groups, many of which are in the abdominal area. The more oxygen our muscles get, the easier it is to perform cardiovascular exercises and in turn, we burn more calories. The result is less bloating and fat being stored in the belly region.

Whole Grain Food

So much has been said about carbohydrates and they really have gotten a bad rap. However, whole grain foods which are in the carbohydrate family are miraculous at maintaining insulin levels and some new studies have shown that eating them in moderation may actually reduce the size and amount of fat cells within our bodies. Additionally, whole grains are a great source of protein and fiber, so these foods will keep you full longer, provide energy and you will be less prone to snacking on other fattening foods.


Particularly black beans that have protein, fiber and flavonoids are amazing at shrinking belly fat. The reasons for this are many; fiber will keep you full for longer periods of time and flavonoids help combat the fat that is stored in the belly.


This is one of the best fruits to incorporate into any diet plan because they have few calories but contain catechins and flavonols, as well as fiber. All three of these ingredients are key elements to keep fat storage from wrecking havoc on the midsection.


Cook up some potatoes and serve them chilled with a dash of vinegar for a delicious treat or light lunch. The starch in potatoes triggers the same hormones that encourages the fat we intake to be used as a fuel source. Therefore, the body will burn some of the fat instead of storing it in unwanted areas.


We have all heard the hype about green teas, but as it turns out any kind of tea will help the cells within the body to burn fat quicker and green tea specifically has been found to increase our metabolisms up to 40 percent more than those who don’t drink a few cups per day. Research shows that when tea is consumed our body’s cells absorb as much as 70-80 percent less fat.

For more articles go to

The Secret to Blasting Belly Fat

Due to technical difficulty in editing the workout video I created for you last Friday (my computer is bumping up to it’s memory limit), I’ve decided to answer a question I get a lot at my San Jose boot camps, and Jackie gets asked a lot at our Campbell boot camp.  I’ll get you the video later this week when I free up more memory in my computer!

So, the burning question is:  “How do I get rid of my belly fat??

The answer doesn’t lie in hundreds of crunches. You can do crunches till you’re blue in the face–it won’t reduce the fat located in your belly (dang it!).  At best, you’ll get stronger abs.  Crunches aren’t my favorite exercise for strong abs–but we’ll save the “say no to the ‘all crunch’ workout” rant for another day.

The key to seeing your abs is to eat and exercise for fat loss, not necessarily for weight loss. You can severely restrict your calorie intake and you’ll lose weight–but what have you really lost???  Probably some calorie burning muscle!  Your body consists of fat mass and lean body mass (water, muscle, bone, organs, etc.). You want to minimize your fat mass and maximize your lean body mass.  This will raise your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories all day long.  So, crash dieting or eating a very low calorie diet may actually set you back in your quest for lean, flat abs.

Here are my suggestions to drop body fat in order to reveal lean, toned abs:

Eat small meals throughout the day that consist mainly of lean protein, produce and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, nuts, canola oil and avocado).  Monounsaturated fats have been featured in the “Flat Belly Diet” promoted by Prevention Magazine.  Eaten in moderation, they seem to help with weight loss.

Minimize processed junk food. It’s usually high in calories and this will not lead to successful fat loss.

Go easy on grain based foods (most of us tend to eat too many—yours truly included!).  When you do eat grain based foods, make them whole grain (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown or wild rice).

Strength train hard. Put down the pink Barbie weights and lift to fatigue!  Research has shown that test subjects who did aggressive strength training lost inches from their midsection.  Your best bet is to focus on burning as many calories during your workouts as possible by engaging your whole body each and every training session. Multi-joint movements like squats, push-ups, and lunges (or better yet, total body exercises like a squat-to-press) burn a lot more calories than single joint movements. I don’t have a problem with single joint exercises (like biceps curls), but I’d like to see most of your exercises in any given workout be multi-joint exercises.   You’ll strengthen all your major muscle groups this way and you’ll burn lots of calories. When you come to boot camp, Jackie and I take care of this for you by giving you lots of multi-joint exercises to do!

Include interval training as part of your cardio workout.  Interval training has been shown to burn WAY more calories during a workout than “steady state” exercise at a moderate exertion level.  In addition, your metabolism stays elevated for awhile after a hard workout–burning more calories for you again!

Mix up your cardio routine. Notice how you get better at certain cardio workouts over time?  Yep.  You’re getting more efficient.  But that’s not what you want when you work out!  Mix up your routine so that your body doesn’t acclimate.  Stay inefficient!  Keep your body guessing and working hard by changing up your cardio interval routines (hey, we do this for you at boot camp, too!).

Get enough calcium. Some research has shown the people on fat loss programs who get adequate calcium lose more fat than those who don’t consume calcium.

So, there you have it, my suggestions for whittling down your belly fat.

Questions?  Comments?  Please leave them below.

Let’s make our last week of July camp a great one!

Committed to your (fat loss) success,


P.S.  A warm welcome to a few “late entries” to our July camps:

Campbell boot camp:  Welcome, Kelsey!

Almaden boot camp:  Welcome Marnie, Maritza and Lori!

High intensity exercise is best for losing belly fat

Yes, my boot campers hear this from me all the time. But, hey, don’t just take it from me!  

A recent study published by the University of Virginia confirms that, although ANY type of exercise is beneficial to our health, high-intensity exercise is necessary to achieve significant body fat loss.

The study involved 27 middle-aged obese women randomized into one of 3 groups:  One group didn’t do any exercise, one group performed low-intensity exercise 5 days per week, and one group performed low intensity exercise 2 days a week and high-intensity exercise 3 days a week .  The study didn’t involve any type of dietary intervention.  

The high-intensity group reduced total abdominal fat, subcutaneous (under the skin) abdominal fat and visceral fat (fat surrounding internal abdominal organs) more than low intensity group–and of course way more than the control group who did not exercise.

Aside from the aesthetic benefits of narrowing our waistlines, there are serious health benefits to be had here!  “For obese women entering the middle and later stages of life, reducing internal abdominal fat or preventing too much of it forming is crucial”, says Dr. Arthur Weltman, the lead scientist in the study.  Excessive amounts of abdominal fat are associated with the development of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

This was a small study done only on women, but it’s not the first of it’s kind.  Other researchers have found similar results in both male and female populations.  And, a big gut is just as dangerous for the guys as it is for gals.

Now, if you’re new to exercise you must work up to higher intensities.  Starting out too hard too soon can bring a well-intentioned exercise program to a screeching halt!  Build up slowly and consistently to higher intensity exercise. One way to do this is through interval training which employs short bouts of hard exercise followed by recovery exercise.

The moral of today’s story:  If you want to lose belly fat, increase your exercise intensity instead of adding more crunches to your workout!

Make it a great day,


In case you want to read the study yourself:

Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 40(11):1863-1872, November 2008.