How to Reduce Your Belly Fat (and Body Fat) Naturally By Avoiding These 3 Foods: No Starvation Diets or Endless Hours at the Gym Required
What if you could finally stop your belly getting flabbier?
Until you deal with the source of your belly fat and body fat build up you will NEVER have the abs of your dreams. Despite all the exercise, painful food deprivation and calorie counting – the fat will continue to build up day after day.
In this Superfood Mania (SFM) special report you will discover how to naturally reduce your belly fat with these simple diet hacks – which will not help you lose belly fat and body fat, but also improve your metabolic functioning and wellbeing. And as always we provide links to the scientific research on which we have based our recommendations.
In this report we discuss:
- The top 3 foods to immediately eliminate or drastically reduce from your diet if you want to lose the belly fat fast
- Why calorie counting does not work when it comes to consistent fat loss
- Why and how fructose and artificial sweeteners make you fat and sick
- The worst sources of fructose in our diets: avoid these at all costs and always check your food labels
- Whether fruit or a particular fruit should be avoided in order to lose weight
- The best way to sweeten your food and drinks
- Our top healthy eating principles for better health and consistent weight loss
The three most important foods to eliminate from your diet in order to reduce belly fat and body fat build up
As a nutritionist, researcher and reformed belly-fat sufferer (yes I admit it!) – I have discovered that the three fundamental ways to reduce your belly fat are to:
- Reduce all sources of fructose in your diet: these include sugar and all artificial and ‘natural’ fructose based sweeteners which include: commercial honey, agave syrup, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup. Some of these sweeteners are often described as ‘natural’ but they are often highly processed with little or no nutritional value, and cause not only fat gain but metabolic dysfunction.
- Reduce high fructose fruits: Fruits provide a variety of nutrients, however eating too many high fructose fruits on a daily basis could result in excess fructose and all its fat forming consequences.
- Drastically reduce or completely eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet.
In this report we will explain why these are our top 3 recommendations to banishing belly fat.
Of course there are other ways to support fat loss, which include avoiding other foods, increasing our water and fiber intake and of course exercise, but these 3 recommendations are the most significant factors in preventing the belly fat from from developing in the first place and in significantly improving your health.
Once you prevent the build up of belly and body fat you will naturally develop a flat, sexy abdomen. At this stage targeted abdominal exercise will give you six pack definition, if this is your ultimate fitness goal.
At SFM we never recommend any food, supplement, drug or activity which sacrifices good health for weight loss.
Why calorie counting does NOT work when it comes to long-term fat loss
Here’s the crunch: “All calories are NOT equal”.
What this means is: If you take two snack bars (as an example), which contain the same number of calories, one bar may be contributing more to fat gain, liver disease and a variety of other metabolic conditions, and the other may have less of an impact.
In other words: Specific food additives- such as fructose – may in fact be contributing more to the development of:
- Increased body fat
- Increased abdominal fat
- Complex health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver disease, high cholesterol (the dangerous kind), and gout.
This is why the idea that you can lose weight by ‘counting calories’ does not work.
You get belly fat (and body fat) by eating the wrong calories. And fructose is one such source.
If you consume excess fructose, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners (among other shocking things!), and are expecting to lose weight and be healthy- then you in for a bit of a disappointing ride.
Let’s look at the situation in more detail.
How do fructose and artificial sweeteners make you fat
In order to understand why excess fructose is making you fat and sick, we need to understand what fructose is and its relationship to sugar and our diets.
The fructose story
Sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. Rather than being a simple product, sugar is actually made up of two different compounds: glucose and fructose, in equal measures.
Fructose is also found in fruits ,fruit juice, honey, agave syrup, maple syrup and in high fructose corn syrup (in a very processed form).
What is glucose?
Glucose is the form of sugar that is needed by every cell in our bodies and when we speak of “blood sugar” we are actually referring to the level of glucose in the blood.
When we eat foods containing sugar and carbohydrates (which break down into glucose), our pancreas releases a chemical called insulin in order to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood.
If we eat too many sugary foods, foods that contain artificial sweeteners and carbohydrate heavy foods such as: grains, bread, pasta etc, over a period of time, the insulin mechanism may no longer work correctly, and your glucose levels could reach dangerous levels.
The dangers of consuming too much fructose
Although fructose occurs naturally in a variety of foods, consuming too much can interfere with your metabolism. The liver is the only organ in the body that can process fructose and too much fructose consumption results in your liver producing fats – which are stored as tri glycerides, the body’s main form of fat.
Scientists have converted corn into into high-fructose corn syrup which is cheaper and almost 20% sweeter than sugar. High-fructose corn syrup could contain as much as 55-65% fructose, and these greater quantities could be a significant factor in weight gain as well as other metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, gout and heart disease.
According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, consuming fructose adds 100% metabolic burden on the liver whereas glucose only adds a 20% burden. Moreover, your cells can’t utilize all of the fructose you consume, which is why your body will turn it to fatty acids, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides – which are stored as fat.
As fat accumulates in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, you’re at risk of suffering from insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Furthermore, your liver’s fructose metabolism process will produce waste products and toxins such as uric acid, driving your blood pressure levels up and causing gout.
The main sources of fructose in our modern diets include:
- Sugar: found in many sweets food and drinks!
- High fructose corn syrup – which is found in many foods: sodas, energy drinks,ice cream, candy, iced drinks, bread and other bakes goods, cakes, donuts, candy, jams and jellies, crackers, salad dressings, dairy products
- Honey, Maple syrup, Agave syrup
- Fruit juice
Here is an infographic representing these sources and an estimate of the amount of fructose in a regular serving. Please click on the image to view the full size.
So how do fructose and high-fructose corn syrup cause belly fat and whole body fat accumulation?
The answer lies in the way fructose is processed by the liver.
The results of a study in 2009 indicated increased fat deposits around the heart, liver and other organs involved in digestion of 16 volunteers who ate a controlled high-fructose diet. These volunteers also developed pre-diabetes symptoms. However another group of volunteers who consumed glucose instead of fructose, did not develop these symptoms.
To get a better idea of how fructose consumption leads to fat gain and metabolic syndrome please see the infographic below. Click the image to view a full sized version.
The effects of consuming too much fructose (in all forms) include:
- When fructose is processed by the liver, fatty acids are created which accumulate as fat droplets in the liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance in the liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance throughout the skeletal muscles as well as the dangerous abdominal fat. This insulin resistance in the liver and throughout the body, puts more pressure on the pancreas which increases further insulin production. Eventually your cells may become resistant to this insulin and / or the pancreas cells become in effective.The illustration above show’s how fructose is metabolized in the liver and the subsequent effects on the body.
- Fructose cncourages over eating (due to increased hunger) and weight gain as it does not effectively stimulate insulin which then fails to surpress the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and also fails to stimulate leptin the “satisfaction hormone” being released.
- Fructose encourages the body to store fat by activating a specific enzyme.
- Fructose encourages the development of metabolic syndrome –the factors include increased levels of the unhealthy cholesterol (LDL), decreased levels of the healthy cholesterol (HDL) and increased blood sugar levels as a result of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Fructose is immediately converted to fructose-1-phosphate (F1P). This process steals phosphates from your liver cells and process toxic waste products such as uric acid. Uric acid has been linked with the development of arthritis and gout and it has been found to block nitric oxide, your bodies natural blood pressure regulator.
- Fructose has been found to react with protein molecules to form “toxic, advanced glycation end-products” or AGEs which has found to play a role in the development of vascular, renal and ocular complications of diabetes.
- Fructose has been found to reduce your immunity by reducing the action of your white blood cells
Should you avoid fruit if too much fructose is bad for you and your waist line?
Fruits are good for you as they contain a wide variety of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many also contain fiber which slows down the release of glucose from the food that you eat.
If you are pre-diabetic, diabetic or have other metabolic disorders, then consuming fruit containing high fructose levels is not a good idea, and these are probably best avoided.
Many fruits such as berries and apples contain low – moderate fructose levels. These low-moderate fructose fruits should be eaten as some studies have found that the fructose found in fruits does not affect that body as detrimentally.
Keep your daily sugar intake to the recommended limits.
High fructose fruits, such as bananas and grapes, should only be eaten in moderation. Please refer to the table below to assess fructose levels in fruits.
However it is important to note that it is best to keep your daily fructose intake (whether from fruit, sugar or other sources) under 25g (6 teaspoons of sugar) a day for a woman and 36g (9 teaspoons of sugar) a day for a man – as recommended by the American Heart Association.
If you are pre-diabetic, diabetic, or looking to reduce abdominal and body fat it is advisable to reduce this intake to 10-15g per day.
In a study published in the Journal of Public Health 27 November 2012, it was noted:
“Many people regard fructose as a healthy natural sugar from fruit, and that’s true. Natural fructose found in fruit for example is fine: the 10g or so of fructose in an apple is probably released slowly because of the fiber within the apple and because fructose is inside the cells of the apple.
There is evidence that the body struggles to metabolize large amounts of fructose that does not come from fruit and there is a risk for type 2 diabetes, because fructose and sucrose are not metabolically equivalent”.
A guide to Fructose levels in fruits
What are artificial sweeteners and why are they so bad for weight loss and health?
Artificial sweeteners were created in order to develop reduced calorie foods that still tasted sweet. Also known as zero calorie sweeteners, artificial sweeteners are synthetically produced additives that allow people with a sweet tooth to enjoy sweets without the calories. However, no calories means zero energy as these sweeteners pass through your body undigested. They also tend to be very sweet, which is why they’re diluted with fillers such as dextrose and maltodextrin.
They are a significant factor in belly and body fat development due to the following reasons:
1. Artificial sweeteners have been found to increase hunger cravings
Artificial sweeteners have been shown to prevent the body feeling satisfied after eating by interfering with your “appetite control system”. This interference may encourage people to eat more. Because of the metabolic effect on the body, artificial sweeteners fail to switch on the body’s “I am satisfied” hormones called Ghrelin and Leptin and could result in carbohydrate cravings. These carbohydrate cravings could potentially lead to high glucose levels and subsequent insulin resistance and diabetes.
A scientific study summed up the effect on appetite:
“The results support the hypothesis that consuming non-caloric sweeteners may promote excessive intake and body weight gain by weakening a predictive relationship between sweet taste and the caloric consequences of eating.”
2. Artificial sweeteners have been found to increase blood sugar levels and insulin resistance leading to weight gain and other metabolic disorders
Artificial sweeteners have been found to be a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and also weight gain.
In a study in Nature September 2014, it was revealed that artificial sweeteners harm your healthy gut bacteria by making them produce propionate (short-chain fatty acids) which are involved in sugar production.
This increase in blood sugar levels then leads to an increase in the release of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose levels and the feeling of fullness. However too much insulin over a period of time can make your body resistant to the effects – and this resistance is a factor in the future development of type 2 diabetes as well as an increase in weight and body fat.
3. Artificial sweeteners have been found to reduce healthy gut bacteria
The same study found that artificial sweeteners create an imbalance in your gut bacteria – decreasing healthy bacteria and reducing unhealthy bacteria.
4. Many artificial sweeteners contain too much fructose a factor in weight gain, fatty liver disease and diabetes.
So where are artificial sweeteners found?
In order to keep calorie levels down, you often find artificial sweeteners in foods labelled “diet” “low calorie” and “low fat” foods and also in many foods touted as ‘healthy’. They are also found in unexpected places such as meals, bread, cakes, medication, drinks, baby foods, sodas and soups.
They’re also used to maintain the freshness and quality of foods, which is why they double as preservatives in jams and jellies and provide fermentation to breads and pickles. Sweeteners also enhance the flavor of processed meats, add bulk to ice cream, and provide body to carbonated sodas.
If you are trying to lose weight, then consuming artificial sweeteners – especially in large quantities – could actually make you pack on the pounds!
These are the most common artificial sweeteners that you will find lurking in your food
So let’s look at some of the worst sweeteners starting with Aspartame
Aspartame is mainly a synthetic chemical that is composed of two amino acids and a methyl ester bond, two components that are safe for consumption. However, Aspartame itself is found in many popular diet foods and beverages and is considered a large public health threat. There have been many studies linking it to certain brain disorders and compromised learning and emotional functioning, increased chances of cancer in babies whose parents consume aspartame, preterm delivery, and episodes of seizure and mania after excessive use.
One of the biggest reasons behind some people experiencing ill effects from aspartame quicker than others is that they may have varied levels of a certain enzyme that breaks down alcohols which are considered rather toxic. Food science professor Woodrow C. Monte, PhD. explains in his article that aspartame contains 10% methanol or wood alcohol. Inside your body methanol is broken down into formaldehyde and then formic acid. However, without an enzyme known as Class I alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH I), your body won’t be able to reduce the toxic effect of formaldehyde or formic acid. Therefore, formaldehyde will attack the proteins in your body, especially the sensitive proteins in your retina, causing blindness.
Far from being a dieters or diabetics best friend
Products containing this zero or low-calorie ingredient can actually encourage weight gain and the consumption of more sweet foods or carbohydrate heavy foods.
A study by Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University showed that sweetness without caloric content offers partial activation of food reward pathways and thus forces people to experience more cravings for sweetness. As aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, it encourages sugar cravings and sugar dependence. With repeated exposure, you’re bound to get addicted to the flavor and incapable of making a switch easily.
Increased hunger is also an outcome of using artificial sweeteners. A 1988 study reported that no or low calorie sweeteners can make significant changes in appetite. Aspartame especially produced the most pronounced effects. However, the concentration of the sweetener, sex of the test subject, and the time after chewing affected the level of increased hunger. More studies are underway to explain why and how artificial sweeteners can increase hunger pangs. However, there is sufficient evidence to point towards the ineffectiveness of these sweeteners for dieters.
Agave syrup and processed commercial honey and their high fructose content could spell disaster
Processed commercial honey and agave syrup are also considered dangerous to diabetics, pre-diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome because they can often contain higher fructose levels than many commercial sweeteners.
Commercial or processed honey and maple syrup
Natural raw and locally sourced honey does contain a variety of nutrients, but should only be consumed in moderation (1 teaspoon a day) due to its high fructose content.
However the highly processed forms which appear in the shops are very unlikely to contain many nutrients, and are best avoided due to their high fructose content.
The same issues apply to maple syrup -so try to buy a high quality, minimally processed product.
This is a product that has gained hype for being an alternative, healthier option to high fructose corn syrup and sugar. This is simply not true. In fact, the main problem with sugar is its extremely high levels of fructose, which is what agave is pretty much made of. This makes it potentially far worse than regular sugar as there is often 70-90% fructose in Agave syrup compared to 50% in sugar.
As we discussed earlier, an excess amount of fructose has a devastating effect on weight loss and blood sugar control. It can cause insulin resistance and consistently forces the body to maintain high levels of insulin. This means that the body’s metabolism will not be working at an adequate rate, and diabetes can become a real issue.
Agave and high fructose usage also cause other health concerns such as high triglycerides, fatty liver, belly fat, body fat, cholesterol problems and obesity. This product is best avoided.
High fructose corn syrup
For the reasons mentioned above – it is best to avoid all foods containing this if you want to reduce belly fat, and total body fat and more importantly if you want to improve your health.
What you need to eat to help reduce the build-up of dangerous abdominal or belly fat
At Superfood Mania we recommend a few key principles to keep in mind in order to improve your health and also to keep your belly fat and body fat down.
Healthy eating principles:
- Keep your daily sugar (including fructose and high fructose corn syrup) intake to 25g or less. If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, high blood pressure and other conditions – try to reduce this to 15g or less. Always check the sugar content of all the food that you consume.
- Drastically reduce or completely eliminate foods that contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
- Significantly reduce your intake of high fructose fruit especially if you are obese, have metabolic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. Instead eat fruits containing low-moderate amounts of fructose, especially those that contain good amounts of fiber such as apples, berries and guavas. Please note: When counting your daily sugar and fructose content – don’t forget to include fruits! The total fructose levels from all the food you consume – including fruits – should not exceed 25g per day.
- Reduce your consumption of starchy, processed carbohydrates – as these are often high in sugar. These include: cakes, donuts, bagels, potato chips. These foods often lack nutrients and fiber which means that your food is quickly broken down in to fructose and glucose in the body, causing insulin problems and many other issues.Use the chart below as a guide, and ensure that 50% of your meal is made up of non-starchy fiber rich vegetables, 15% healthy fats such as avocados, olives, organic cold pressed coconut oil, nuts and seeds, wild organic oily fish (such as Alaskan salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel), 15-20% high quality protein (such as organic grass fed animal meat, cheese and yogurt form organic grass fed cows, organic chia seeds, other seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, and a variety of nuts).
What you should use to sweeten you food and reduce your fructose intake
The best way to sweeten your food is to use Stevia. Stevia is a natural sweet herb obtained from the leaves of the South American Stevia plant. Stevia has a lower glycemic effect than sugar i.e. it does increase the sugar load on the body as much as glucose or fructose do.
Make sure that the Stevia you buy is from a high quality organic source. To purchase stevia from please click here.
Other organic sweet foods
The next best option is to sweeten your food with organic and unrefined products such as: organic raw or minimally processed honey (ideally locally sourced), organic cane sugar, organic maple syrup, bananas and dates.
However all forms of sugar (including organic foods) should be used in moderation, as they contribute to your daily sugar intake. Once again, it is best to keep the total intake of sugar below 25g per day.Although raw or minimally processed honey and maple syrup are very high in fructose (almost 50%), they do contain nutrients. Therefore it is best to consume these products in low quantities.
These compounds are a hybrid of sugar and alcohol molecules, but do not contain ethanol and are not alcoholic. Some occur naturally in fruits and other carbohydrates and others are formed industrially. A few common examples include Xylitol Glucitol, Erythritol, Sorbitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Glycerol, and Lactitol. They’re not as sweet as sugar, and they do contain fewer calories.
If you are looking to consume less calories and less sugar, then Xylitol and Erythritol are the preferred choices as they does not affect the blood sugar as much as sugar. The best one I recommend is xylitol, which readily available.
The graph below shows the effect of specific sugar alcohols on blood glucose levels. The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels.
Please note: Sugar alcohols are not completely absorbed in the body – therefore eating significant quantities of foods containing them could result in abdominal discomfort, bloating and diarrhea.
Warning: Xylitol is toxic to dogs.
If you are diabetic, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and / or insulin sensitivity it is best to avoid all sweeteners – including Stevia as every sweetener will affect insulin resistance to some degree.
Healthy living involves the body, mind and spirit
Healthy living involves eating well, regular exercise, regular body movement and rest and relaxation.
By keeping a few simple principles in mind, you will not only kill your body and belly fat, but you’ll experience more energy, more stamina, better eye-sight, better mental functioning, better moods and a whole lot else!
Here are few of the most important principles to keep in mind. Print or save the list so that the principles are front of mind every day!