Nowadays it is possible to call up all kinds of information with just one mouse click. However, with this blessing comes the curse of misinformation and disinformation. But what is fact and what is fiction? What information can you trust? Are they solid facts or myths?
In this post, we share 5 fitness facts to help you meet your expectations, enjoy fitness again, and achieve better results!
1. Abdominal exercises do NOT burn belly fat
A 2011 study looked at the body structure of 24 participants who had to perform 7 abdominal exercises 5 days per week for 6 weeks. It was found that while the abdominal exercises improved muscle endurance, they had no significant effects on body weight, body fat percentage, or abdominal fat loss (1).
As much as we wish we could burn belly fat with sit-ups, crunches, and planks, it just isn’t possible. However, if you deepen your knowledge about belly fat, you can fight it much easier!
There are two primary varieties of abdominal fat:
subcutaneous fat: This is the fact that we can see, press, and knead. It sits just under the skin and over the muscles.
visceral fat: This is the fat that lies deep within our abdominal cavity and surrounds our internal organs.
Visceral fat has a faster metabolic rate than subcutaneous fat, hence it’s called “harmful belly fat.” It triggers systemic inflammation (2), insulin resistance (3), metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease (4).
This sort of fat causes weight gain, weight gain overall, and weight loss problems.
Read Also 4 tips for a flat stomach: how it works!
Here are a few tips for you to reduce your visceral fat:
1. Watch your diet
Eliminate extremely processed foods high in sugar and fat from your diet. You can swap them out for fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates (whole foods), nuts, and lean proteins.
2. Eat more protein
Protein is needed for body metabolism. It has a greater thermogenic effect than any other food, helps you feel full for a longer period of time, and can help increase the breakdown of visceral fat.
A large study involving over 23,000 participants found a direct link between a high-protein diet and a smaller waist size (5). Aim for a minimum of 0.6-0.8g of protein per pound of body weight.
If you are having trouble meeting your protein needs through food, we always recommend supplementing with a protein shake. That Vegan protein by Women’s Best delivers 21.8g of protein per scoop and that Iso Whey 25g protein per scoop.
3. Eat more soluble (viscous) fiber
This type of fiber dissolves in our bodies to form a thick, gel-like substance that slows our digestion, helps us absorb more nutrients, reduces belly fat, and curbs our appetite. One in the magazine obesity A published study found that increasing daily soluble fiber intake by 10 g reduced visceral fat accumulation by 3.7% (6).
4. Avoid stress & get a good night’s sleep
There are several studies linking stress and poor sleep to weight gain and specifically visceral fat. That’s because when we’re stressed, we release more cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in many metabolic processes in the body.
Elevated cortisol levels affect blood sugar levels and the way we use and store fat. It also regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Daily exercise, meditation, yoga, strolling, calming baths, and eating dinner early can reduce stress and improve sleep.
5. Exercise regularly
Physical and mental performance improve with exercise. Endorphins assist control mood and motivation. Regular exercise raises your metabolism, so you burn more calories and lose fat while resting. 30-60 minutes of exercise 3-5 days a week helps.
Read Also Understanding Scientific Fitness Studies
2. Sweating doesn’t mean you’re burning fat
You’ve probably heard the saying “sweat is fat that cries” before. It’s not always pleasant to be totally sweaty, but most of the time it feels like a confirmation that we’re doing something right – we’re burning fat and our muscles are getting stimulated.
The truth is that sweat is mostly made up of water and salts (7). It is a cooling process in our body that is triggered by an increase in core temperature, indicating that we are burning calories through temperature regulation.
However, where we burn those calories (muscle stores or fat stores) is highly dependent on the type, intensity, and length of exercise we’re doing. Burning fat is essentially a metabolic process that involves the use and storage of energy.
3. Carbohydrates do not lead to weight gain. Excess calories already!
Hormonal and medical issues aside, weight gain is caused by a calorie surplus (we eat more calories than we burn).
1 gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat each contains 4 calories. Not consuming these food groups can harm your health and prevent weight loss.
Essential carbs! They’re turned down into glucose, which fuels our brains and muscles.
Chemically, carbohydrates come in different forms. However, the two most important are simple and complex carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates are short-chain sugar molecules that provide short-lasting bursts of energy. Examples include sugar, white bread, pasta, refined white flour foods, sweets, sugary drinks, fruit juices, etc.
Studies have found a link between overconsumption of simple carbohydrates and increases in obesity, diabetes (8), and food cravings after rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates are long-chain sugar molecules that contain more nutrients, are digested more slowly, and provide the body with long-lasting energy.
Complex carbohydrates include fiber and starch. These help control blood sugar levels and bowel movements, as well as efficient energy storage and production.
Complex carbohydrates are found in, for example, Whole grain products, vegetables, beans, and fruit (apples, berries, bananas). Using complex carbohydrates has many advantages:
- regulation of blood sugar levels
- support of brain function
- Improvement of digestion and intestinal flora
- regulation of your weight
- Replenishing muscle glycogen and increasing recovery
Read Also Muscle Building – Diet Is So Important!
4. Eating late at night does NOT lead to weight gain
As mentioned in the example above, weight gain is primarily due to an over intake of calories. Eating late does not affect the caloric content of any food group. However, eating late in the evening can lead to poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation.
Poor sleep can trigger stress that affects weight regulation. It can also trigger cravings specifically for high-calorie foods and lead to poor nutrition (9).
5. You can’t target fat loss
Spot reduction is the belief that you may burn fat in a specific location with a specific exercise. Example: training thighs to lose fat. Spot fat reduction doesn’t function or isn’t noticeable.
The main reason for this is the way fat burning works.
Fat burning process (explained simply)
Triglycerides store fat in cells. Triglycerides store energy in case we run out of food or energy. To get this fat energy, the body must start a process called lipolysis, which is triggered by a calorie shortfall.
The liver converts our stored fat into usable energy from free fatty acids and glycerol in the bloodstream.
This procedure is automatic and not controlled by the bodily portion we exercise. This means a full-body strategy is ideal for fat loss.
Tips to stimulate fat burning during exercise:
- Maintain a steady calorie deficit (combination of diet and exercise).
- Include cardio training in your weekly exercise routine.
- Cardio activity burns the most calories. This boosts your calorie deficit.
- Do 2-3 HIIT workouts per week.
- High-intensity interval training has been shown to be more effective at burning fat than steady-state endurance training. This is partly because it lowers insulin resistance, improves skeletal muscle adaptation, promotes fat oxidation, and increases glucose tolerance (10). In addition, HIIT helps keep metabolic activity elevated for several hours post-workout.
It can be tempting to look for short-term fixes and work towards immediate results. But those who have patience and perseverance will always win in the end!
Rather, you should view your health and fitness as a lifelong journey of self-discovery. Over time you will learn more about how your body works and what type of training is most effective for you. You’ll also find out what foods and mealtimes work best for you, and what routine gets you going.