There is no truer saying than “abs are made in the kitchen”. Visible abs is all about reducing your subcutaneous fat levels. Subcutaneous fat is the layer of fat under the skin, lying on top or over the muscle. No matter how many abdominal exercises you do or how developed or strong your abdominals become… if they are covered by fat you will never see them! It is undeniable that nutrition has the biggest influence on fat loss. Furthermore, when is comes to striping fat from around the midsection there are essential lifestyle and nutrition factors to focus on. Here are a few most don’t know about:

-Fibre, Cortisol & Insulin: high cortisol is closely linked to belly fat. Reducing stress and getting enough quality sleep are the usual recommendations but most people don’t understand the relationship between cortisol and insulin. Carbs that lack fiber can lead to elevated cortisol because they are rapidly digested, leading to a greater insulin response, which is followed by cortisol release once blood sugar plummets. Cortisol kicks in to try and balance energy levels but it also causes fat storage in the abdominal region. Plus low fiber diets tend to lead to poor gastrointestinal function and inflammation that alters cortisol balance. Opt for green leafy vegetables for your main source of carbohydrates

-Fats to avoid: cutting fat from your diet is a bad mistake. Good fats make you burn fat but you should avoid fats such as canola, corn, soy and sunflower. These oils are quite often toxic and contain high levels of Omega-6. Omega-6 oil creates inflammation and therefore stress and elevates cortisol. Choose butter (read the label for trans fats), olive oil (cold only – do not cook with) and coconut oil (great cold or for cooking)

-Limit fructose: Research shows that getting a large portion of carbohydrates from fructose results in belly fat gain, reduced insulin sensitivity, more bad cholesterol, less fat burning, and a lower metabolic rate. Unlike glucose intake that results in the body releasing insulin to regulate it, fructose is processed in the liver and when you have too much of it, the liver turns it into fats that are sent out into the blood stream where they are commonly stored in the abdominal region

Diet is key but there are some very specific training methods that absolutely enhance the burning of fat from your midsection. Guess what… none of them are sit-ups or crunches:

Up Your Intensity: Burn more belly fat with sprint intervals. A large number of convincing studies show that high-intensity interval training is the best for losing belly fat.

Raise the Resistance: Resistance exercise requires the muscles to become more sensitive to insulin (which will lower the cortisol response). In addition, strength training resets the part of the brain that is involved in releasing hormones so that cortisol balance improves.

Resistance training promotes the release of fat burning hormones testosterone, human growth hormone, adrenaline and lactic acid.

Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (starfitnesssaigon.com), online or at your home. Contact him through his website phil-kelly.com or facebook.com/BodyExpertSystemsVietnam.