#218 Busting Body Fat
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American consumers have no problem with carcinogens,
but they will not purchase any product, including floor wax,
that has fat in it.

Dave Barry

5 Tips to Burn Body Fat

By Kathy Smith, creator of Project:YOU! Type 2TM

Pop quiz: Which of the following types of body fat is most harmful to your health?

  1. Underarm fat
  2. Hip, thigh, and buttock fat
  3. Abdominal fat
  4. None of the above
  5. All of the above

Answer: C.

We're all pretty aware of the difference between the good and bad types of consumed fat. Saturated fats clog arteries whereas unsaturated fats typically aid our health. For example, you can probably agree that eating a cheeseburger with a bag of potato chips isn't the best option when compared to a fresh salmon fillet and a side of greens dressed with olive oil. But what about the other side of the story? What about the different kinds of body fat we carry?

Belly fat: the bad news

The reason C is the answer is because abdominal, or belly, fat is the kind that lies deep inside the body. Doctors call this visceral fat because it wraps around your "viscera"—your vital organs such as your heart, liver, lungs, and stomach. And against conventional wisdom, it's not lifeless fat. It actually acts like an organ itself, generating hormones that can actually cause weight gain while preventing the production of healthy substances that can lead to weight loss.

In fact, studies just coming out are changing the way doctors view obesity as they learn more about visceral fat and how it can change the body's internal chemistry. What this fat ultimately does is cause us to age quicker and become vulnerable to disease.

Belly-burning tips

But here's the good news: it's relatively easy to get rid of visceral fat. Why? Because abdominal fat is metabolically very active. You're not stuck with it forever; you can burn it up! Just follow these five important tips:

  1. Amp up your cardio routine. Cardiovascular exercise, which is any activity that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time, is an excellent way to burn fat and accelerate your metabolism. If you haven't been keeping a regular cardio routine, start one today. Go for a brisk walk, a hike in the hills, or pop in an exercise video. And if you're a veteran cardio queen or king, add 10 more minutes to your regular routine. Take it to the next level and challenge yourself!

  2. Do more strength training. Adding resistance with weights, balls, or bands to your workout allows you to increase your lean muscle mass and boost your resting metabolism. You'll burn more even while you're sitting on the couch . . . sleeping!

  3. Don't forget to make time for rest and relaxation! Try meditative yoga, set aside 30 minutes a day to read a book in your favorite chair, or take a warm bath before bedtime. We need time-outs at least once a day to catch our breath in our bodies and minds. The less stress we have, the easier it is to control those stress-related hormones that tell the body to hold onto fat.

  4. Focus on nourishing your cells with healthy unsaturated fats, such as those from nuts, olive oil, and fish. Avoid the saturated and trans fats commonly found in processed, packaged foods and fatty cuts of meat. Try to keep your intake of healthy fats at approximately 30 percent of your daily caloric intake.

  5. Focus on waist size, not pound size. If you're on a weight-loss plan or are about to start one, don't worry so much about what the scale reads. As you trim body fat and increase lean muscle mass, you might not see a huge difference on the scale right away. So instead of using that to gauge your progress, measure your waistline once a week and track your results. Chances are you'll see your waistline get smaller! (You can also use body fat calipers to monitor your progress.)

With these tips in mind, you'll not only shed the belly fat but you'll also feel lighter and more energetic!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on a newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Check Steve Edwards' Mailbag for his responses to reader comments.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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7 Ways to Build a Better Burger

By Denis Faye

There are two reasons restaurant hamburgers taste so good. Fat and salt. They may claim it's secret sauce or flame broiling or magic buns from Timbuktu, but in truth, it's all about the fat and salt. You see, it's really cheap and easy to make things taste better with this dastardly duo—but what the chefs at McBlobby's haven't figured out is that with a little ingenuity, you can make a darn fine burger without fat and salt.

We've come up with seven easy steps to a healthier-yet-yummy burger. And here's the best part: You can use these tricks for all of your cooking, not just burgers.

  1. Lean meat. There are so many options. How about veggie burgers, ground turkey, salmon burgers, or a whole Portobello mushroom? Or, if you're a purist, spend a couple extra cents and buy the leanest beef you can find. From a saturated fat perspective, it ain't no chicken breast, but it's a start.

  2. Grill it. Frying meat is bad. Grilling meat is good. If you're looking for an easy, economical way to grill indoors, look into George Foreman Grills. (And don't miss our 11 tips for cooking out.)

  3. Spice it wisely. Stay away from salt when spicing up your meat. There are so many other flavors going on in a well-made burger that you don't need it anyway. However, if you've taken the ground turkey option, you may still be looking to compensate flavorwise. Think dried spice. Oregano and basil make a great Italian burger. Pepper is a fine additive, too.

  4. Wine is the new oil. Need those sautéed onions or mushrooms on there? Who doesn't? Sauté them in white wine instead of oil or meat fat. Start with a cheap bottle of wine. Pour about a quarter inch into the saucepan and bring it to boil. Add your onions or mushrooms and sauté away the liquid. Add more. Keep up this cycle until they're nice and golden brown. And don't worry about getting boozed up; the cooking process evaporates the alcohol.

  5. Fresh veggies. Have you ever checked out the anemic produce in a fast food burger? Greasy, floppy iceberg lettuce and tomatoes that look like they spent a week in someone's back pocket. And it probably didn't look much better when they pulled it out of the plastic freezer bag. Here's your chance to sneak two or three servings of fresh, healthful produce into your system. Think beyond the usual lettuce, tomato, and onion. Cucumbers, carrots, beets, zucchini, and peppers all make great burger veggies.

  6. Whole wheat flour, not refined. Whether it's the bun or bread crumbs you're folding into the meat, going whole grain is a great way to health up a burger. If you can't find whole wheat bread crumbs, toast a slice and make your own. If you're not a whole grain bread fan, have a look around. There are dozens of different kinds of whole grain bread and they all taste different.

  7. Condimentally speaking. Mustard is fine. Ketchup is loaded with sugar, so moderation is, again, key. But think about this if you need to slather your burger in goop, you probably didn't make it right.

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