Lose your gut now

in Fat

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that regular exercise isn't always a fat-searing solve-all. The researchers discovered that although working out burns more calories, frequent sessions also lead to a decrease in the hormone leptin – responsible for regulating appetite – meaning you increase your food intake, diminishing your workouts' slimming effects.

So, what's the answer for those looking to ditch their paunch? Cut back on calories and cardio? Not at all. Simply use our tips to micromanage your leptin levels and optimise fat burning.

Stay receptive

As you get older (or rounder), you become more leptin inefficient – the ‘stop eating!' signal that once zipped from hormone to brain begins to sputter, and your body becomes confused about when food is required. The result is that appetite becomes severed from true nutritional need.

"Aerobic exercise in particular tends to be restorative to leptin function over the long haul," says Byron J Richards, author of Mastering Leptin. Regardless of whether your sporting exertions are melting much fat in the short term, they're always safeguarding you against future belly burgeoning, through firing up your leptin receptors. Richards recommends three one-hour cardio sessions a week.

Soup up your satiety

Since workouts will always increase your appetite due to inducing a fall in leptin levels, the key to eating to maximise weight loss in tandem with an exercise programme is knowing the right hunger-sating foods. "Complex carbohydrates and fibre raise your metabolism by keeping insulin levels low after you eat," says registered dietician Gillian Killiner. Try adding a handful of porridge oats into your stews and soups.

Think zinc and vitamin D

Leptin is produced by fat cells, which require certain nutrients in order to function optimally. "Zinc is critically important to the production of leptin," says Richards – and Vitamin D is also essential. Most foods high in protein are also high in zinc, so chomping on carnivorous staples such as chicken, beef and lamb will help scythe fat from your frame alongside building your muscles.

Lunch on a meaty sandwich outside to ensure you're getting enough vit D: 30 minutes of sun exposure twice a week should provide your fill. British winter sabotaging this simple plan? Salmon, mackerel and mushrooms are your best nutritional sources.

Be a cheater

There's little better than scoffing down extra helpings safe in the knowledge that every bite is helping to increase your rate of weight loss. And that's exactly what you should do every four days or so, says Killiner. A ‘cheat day', in which you chow down on extra proteins and carbohydrates, will spike your leptin levels, zapping your metabolism back up to prime fat-burning mode.

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This article was published on 2010/12/29