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Blasting belly fat requires exercise and right foods

Angela Shelf Medearis
The Kitchen Diva

With all the gadgets and gizmos available that promise six-pack abs, you might think we should be a nation of strapping Adonises. However, the current U.S. obesity epidemic would indicate otherwise. Stephen Ball, University of Missouri Extension exercise physiologist, said sit-ups and crunches will tighten your abdominal muscles, but you will still have the same layer of fat sitting on top of those muscles.

“Exercise equipment manufacturers mislead us with flashy infomercials showing beer bellies transforming into defined midriffs with the use of simple devices … usually in just minutes a day,” Ball said.

Aerobic exercises like bicycling, jogging or running are the best way to lose body fat, Ball said. These exercises raise your heart rate and cause your body to draw upon its fat stores for energy. The places where the body stores fat can affect health, Ball said. Exercise and a sensible diet will help shrink those problem spots over time.

Bottom line: There is no device or magic bullet for getting into shape. According to Ball, a combination of strength exercises, aerobic exercise and a sensible diet will, over time, put you on the road to health and fitness.

Include these belly-fat busters in a sensible diet:

Eggs: They not only keep you satisfied longer, they also help you consume fewer calories all day long due to their high protein (about six grams per egg) and the healthy fat in the yolk. Organic eggs are high in omega-3s. When you combine omega-3s with exercise, studies have shown you can decrease abdominal fat.

Almond milk: One cup of plain, unsweetened almond milk has 35 to 40 calories; a Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorText ColorText ColorText Colorcup of skim milk has 90. It also contains no sugar and is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Almond milk is available in a variety of flavors, including dark chocolate and vanilla.

Chia seeds: These power-packed seeds help lower blood sugar, reduce hunger and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Blueberries: Berries are high in fiber and lower in sugar than other fruits, so they help keep blood sugar from spiking. Blueberries, in particular ,help melt fat.

Grapefruit: During a recent study, when obese adults on a calorie-restricted diet consumed either half a grapefruit, half a cup of 100 percent grapefruit juice or half a cup of water before their three daily meals for 12 weeks, they significantly decreased weight and waist circumference, dropping an average of 15 pounds per person.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah): This whole grain from Peru is a plant seed related to spinach that’s packed with fiber and protein to help keep you slim.

My recipe for Quinoa with cinnamon and fruit is a great way to start the day, will keep hunger at bay and helps to blast belly fat.

[Additional information provided by Stephen D. Ball, State Specialist and Associate Professor, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri.]

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission.


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