The winter season is well and truly upon us, and many of us see it as a time to accept the dreaded muffin top. Christmas is a time to hide away in our cozy winter layers, hoping someone offers us another slice of pie.
While this annual bout of indulgence feels delicious, it can also leave some fraught with panic. Some feel a conflict of guilt as they forego a salad for another helping of mashed potato. Then, as New Year rolls around, there is a rush of people signing up to the gym to beat their winter bulge.
It is important to remember that a couple of weeks of festive treats and relaxation is not the end of the world, and we should not beat ourselves up about it. But there are some things we can do to keep our bodies healthy ahead of the season, so we feel happy, fit and balanced.
We caught up with nutritionist and personal trainer Julian Gaine of MealKitt who provides us with his top tips to ditch that muffin top just in time for Christmas. Nutritionist and personal trainer Julian Gaine of MealKit provided us with his top tips to ditch that muffin top just in time for Christmas
1. Drink more water
I know you are sick of hearing that water is great, especially when it comes to weight loss, but perhaps you are not being told enough.
Drinking more water means you snack less and as your snacks are likely to be full of empty calories with high amounts of sugar, this is an enormous benefit when you are trying to lose weight, especially around the stomach area as this is the first place sugar goes.
Water also flushes out any debris from the cells in our body, which can help burn fat and speed up our metabolisms, subsequently acting as another way to help us lose excess weight.
2. Do some core workouts
When targeting your muffin top, you should focus on core workouts such as abdominal crunches, oblique twists and leg raises.
Keeping these core muscles strong will not only help to get you that washboard stomach you’ve been yearning for, but can also do wonders for your posture and give you more strength when doing other exercises like running and walking.
3. Monitor your portions
One of the first things you need to be doing is monitoring your portion sizes. Often people pour out their morning bowl of ‘healthy’ Granola without realizing they are unintentionally about to consume half their calorie intake for the day.
If you really want to fight away that muffin top fast, try using portion control gadgets.
Portion control and food prepping continues to be one of the main reasons why we continue to struggle with weight management, as well as our increasingly demanding lives which often make it difficult to find the time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals.
4. Realize that stress IS affecting your weight – and make relaxation a priority
Monitoring your stress levels is incredibly important when working on your stomach area as increased stress levels have been shown to lead to weight gain around the middle.
This is mainly due to the production of increased cortisol levels, which leads to fat being taken from other parts of your body and stored around your stomach. To avoid this you need to try to mindfully de-stress.
Of course, this is hard in the run up to the festive period when you’re trying to organize for the big event, but you need to make sure take some time out for yourself and de-stress.
5. Consume fat-burners like green tea and avocado
When trying to target specific areas of your body, it is very easy to focus on all of the foods you can’t eat. There are loads of foods you should actually be adding to your plate to assist you in decreasing belly fat and getting rid of the dreaded muffin top before Christmas.
You need to focus your meals around foods that melt fat, such as avocado, nuts, green tea, yogurt, berries and water. Though some of these foods are high in fat, they are high in good fats which can help you to lose weight, when eaten in moderation as they help you to feel fuller for longer.
6. Ditch the sugar
One of the top ways to reduce that muffin top is to eliminate sugars from your diet. Sugar can be found in almost all processed foods, so we need to be particularly conscious when consuming them in excess.
Unfortunately, this does mean stopping that extra spoonful of sugar in your tea or unnecessary sugary snacks such as sweets and biscuits.
A diet high in sugar can have catastrophic consequences on your weight, particularly around the stomach area as sugar is converted into glucose and pushed into our blood to be stored in our livers, with any remaining stores going straight to the muffin top area.