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Ways to keep that extra flab in the middle at bay

So, you’ve been hitting the gym four times a week, staying away from carbs and swapping your sandwiches for salads on your lunch break. So how come that last bit of belly is still there? We asked our Nutritionists to tell us five surprising reasons why you are not losing that extra flab.

  • Inflammation

Is your extra flab resistant to your diet or gym sessions? Inflammation might be the one to blame. ‘Your fat cells function as a gland; they produce hormones and other substances, as do other glands in your body. Unfortunately, fat cells produce substances called inflammatory cytokines, which have the effect of pumping up the immune system. This urge adrenal glands to release more cortisol to calm it down. The excess cortisol in your system then causes more fat to be stored, which then releases more inflammatory cytokines. Round and round it goes once more’ explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar (

To reduce your inflammation levels, look at your diet. Stay away from 3P’s – prepared, processed and packaged foods as well as saturated fats (margarine, pastries, crisps) alcohol, wheat and gluten containing foods and foods that increase our blood sugar level quickly (sweets, juices, bread). You can also increase sources of anti-inflammatory antioxidants by munching on berries or taking Nature’s Plus cialis equivalent dosage viagra AgeLoss First Day Healthy Inflammation Response  (, £47.45), complex antioxidant-packed botanicals, including grape seed, bilberry and blueberry’ says Michela Vagnini, Nutritionist at Nature’s Plus.

  • Keep your belly happy

Our stomach is made up of good and bad bacteria, called gut flora, which has a controlling influence over many important body functions, including metabolism and fat reduction. However, our lifestyle habits (taking antibiotics, diet high in sugar, stress, alcohol) damage our gut bacteria.

So how can we balance it? A healthy gut is made by limiting the bad bacteria and encouraging the good one to grow. ‘Feed the good bacteria with fibrous foods and plenty of probiotics, which you can find in fermented foods (Kombucha tea, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and apple cider vinegar are all examples of probiotic-rich superfoods that balance your gut flora) or include a supplement in your diet. Look for the one with different types of strains of bacteria, such as Tum 8 Biotix by Quest Vitamins (, £15.80). Probiotics may help to reduce the number of calories you absorb from food’ advises Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.

  • Read the food label

We have all done this mistake: grabbing ‘gluten free’, ‘sugar free’ and ‘low fat’ products of the shelves, hoping that will help us lose weight. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what could be making the belly sticking out. ‘If a food or drink is described as ‘low sugar’, ‘slimline’ or ‘diet’, it will usually contain an artificial sweetener. These sweeteners have been linked to mood swings and depression, and it has been found that people who regularly use artificial sweeteners tend to gain weight because they can slow down the digestive process and increase appetite’ explains Glenville.

Always read nutrition labels before choosing what you buy. ‘Unlike the nutrition labels, front-of-the-box packaging is not tightly regulated, promising guilt free food and giving us false sense of health adds Michela.

  • You snooze you lose (weight)

As a society we are sleeping less; the time we sleep each night has reduced from 9 hours to 7.5 hours since the 1900s.  Sleep is important for your health because it gives your body time to recharge its batteries and repair cells and tissue.  When you don’t get enough or good quality sleep you can feel irritable, with poor concentration and, of course, tired. But did you know that lack of Zzz could give you extra flab?

People who are sleep deprived have an increased appetite. Inadequate sleep lowers levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and increases grehlin, a hormone that increases food intake and is thought to play a role in long-term regulation of body weight. All this suggests that sleep deprivation can make weight loss extremely difficult because it causes your body to work against you! A large study of nearly 70,000 women conducted over 16 years found that those who slept less than five hours a night gained more weight over time than those who slept for 7 hours a night.’

Aim at getting your 8 hours of beauty sleep every night! How? ‘Keep a regular sleep routine, include 30 minutes of exercise in your day, avoid all stimulants in the evening (including chocolate, coffee, tea), avoid bright light around the house before bed, have a relaxing bath and keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool’ Marilyn suggests.

  • Pop a chill pill

Our teeth, bones, brain, heart, kidneys – our entire body requires magnesium for more than 300 chemical reactions! Apart from keeping heart rhythm steady, boosting energy levels it can also aid

in weight loss and body shaping by regulating blood sugar levels. ‘Known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser, magnesium calms the adrenal glands and helps balance blood sugar by contributing to the production and action of insulin’ says Dr Glenville.

If you are a gym bunny, magnesium can also help you to build your muscles and get rid of fat. According to research published at Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical analysis, magnesium can boost enhanced levels of free testosterone in our body, which

is one of the most potent of fat burning hormones.

‘Include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Think: leafy green vegetables, bananas, beans, brown rice, nuts and seeds. You can also take a supplement. Try new magnesium powder KalmAssure by Nature’s Plus (, £24.50)’ says Barns.

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