An apple-shaped body accumulates excess fat around the waist rather than on the hips and thighs. Although excess fat anywhere is less than ideal, abdominal fat is potentially dangerous. It is linked with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some types of cancer. Despite what advertising may tell you, there is no pill that will get rid of abdominal fat. The solution is daily exercise and a healthy diet.
You must cut calories, of course, but maybe not as much as you think. Eating too few calories can actually force your body to rebel against your efforts and store fat more efficiently. A daily deficit of 500 calories is a good place to start -- it will allow you to lose a pound per week, and it's a deficit, not a straight calorie cut. You can create the deficit by cutting calories or by burning them through exercise -- or a little of both. This way, you won't feel as deprived as you otherwise would, and it may help keep you on track with your daily workout. Keep your portion sizes within reason, and fill up on low-calories foods like green vegetables before eating higher-calories foods.
Say good bye to refined grains. You may have heard of diets that eliminate all white foods and that's a good place to start. Refined grains include white flour, sugar, white rice and white bread. These starches exacerbate the problems caused by abdominal fat, and because they are more easily broken down, they are more likely to be stored as fat. A 2009 study in the journal "Metabolism" found that refined grains were associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in the Asian Indian population surveyed, and these two conditions are strongly associated with abdominal fat.
Eliminating refined carbs does not mean going low-carb. Focus instead on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods have enough carbs to keep you energized, but they also contain fiber and vitamins to keep you healthy. Whole grain carbs are considered "slow carbs" -- instead of suddenly spiking your blood sugar only to make it crash, slow carbs trickle in slowly, providing a more sustained energy source. A serving of whole grains at every meal may help you avoid the mid-afternoon slump, especially if you eat a piece of fruit or a handful of raw veggies between lunch and dinner. Sustained energy also means that you may be more likely to fit exercise into your day.
Fat has more than twice as many calories per gram as protein and carbs, so limiting your fat intake is an easy way to eat more food while staying within your calorie allowance. Keep your overall fat intake around 20 percent of your total calories, and keep saturated fat below 10 grams per day. Eliminate trans fats entirely. Choose lean proteins like fish, poultry, soy and fat-free dairy to help keep your saturated fat intake down. Use beneficial fats like olive oil, canola oil, nuts and seeds, and eat fatty fish like salmon to benefit from fish oils.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.