Lose your muffin top for good. The unsightly bulge of fat that sits around the waistband and hangs over your jeans like the crust of a muffin that overhangs the cup cake is aptly named the muffin top. It is the scourge of anyone who wants to wear hipsters, a low slung belt or who just wants to look good in skinny jeans. However this particular area of fat storage is down to poor regulation of your blood sugar and the hormone insulin. Once you get these under control you will start to lose fat from this unsightly area.
The first thing you can do is to control your blood sugar. The best way to do this is to eat a low glycemic load diet. This involves consuming healthy protein (such as meat, fish, seafood, poultry and eggs) and fats (such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados, oily fish and coconut oil) with low glycemic load fruits, vegetables, grain and legumes.
The glycemic load is a system of classifying carbohydrate containing foods by how quickly the carbohydrate is released into the blood stream. The GL system scores foods as low GL that are less than 10, moderate GL that are 11-20 and high GL as anything over 20.
It is beyond the scope of this article to outline the GL of all carbohydrate containing foods, but a general rule is that thin skinned fruits such as berries, apples, pears and plums and green leafy vegetables are all low GL. Things like potatoes, bread and whole grains are moderate GL and all processed foods such as sugar, sweats, chocolates and white grains are high GL. This may be a bit of an over simplification but you will certainly start losing weight if you eat lean protein and healthy fats with mainly low GL food, a little moderate GL food and no high GL foods. See here for more on the GL of foods.
A good way to bust through a plateau of weight loss and start melting away the muffin top is to do a 2 week low carb boot camp as used by Steve Hines in his nutritionist for weight loss programme:
2-week boot camp phase
The boot camp phase is a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. It forms the foundation of how you should eat to initially lose weight and then – with certain foods added back in for a fuller varied diet – maintain a healthy weight.
This type of “low carb” boot camp phase is the staple of many successful weight loss programmes including, but not exclusively:
• Anne Louise Gittleman – Fat Flush plan
• Charles Poliquin – BioSignature
• Patrick Holford – The low GL diet
I have taken different things from the above named programmes as well as from the likes of Jonny Bowden and Mauro Di Pasquale to create the following 2-week bootcamp.
After the initial two weeks other foods can be added back to the diet to make it a more balanced diet to meet all your nutritional needs.
Number 1: Protein in Greek means “of first importance” so make sure your first choice in a meal is a good quality portion of protein. Once you have worked out your daily protein requirement simply divided this by 3 or 5 (depending on whether you eat 3 or 5 meals a day) and eat that amount of protein at each meal.
Protein requirement = 550g per day
• Breakfast: 120g
• Snack: 40g
• Lunch: 150g
• Snack: 40g
• Dinner: 200g
Weigh your protein after it has been cooked to make sure you are getting the right amount at each meal. Make sure to eat quality organic meat and fish to avoid oestrogens, growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides stored in animal fat.
Number 2: For 14 days eat a 100% strict LOW carbohydrate diet (this means NO alcohol, grains, fruits, dairy, starchy vegetables etc…) except:
• Artichokes, avocado (1 a day), asparagus, aubergine, bamboo shoots, beetroot greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, raw carrots, celery, chard, collards, courgette, cucumber, fennel, green beans, kale, lettuce leaves (all types), mushrooms, olives (3 a day), onions, parsley, peas, peppers, radishes, sauerkraut, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, water chestnuts and watercress.
You can eat as much of these fibrous carbohydrates a day as you can as they are in low carbohydrate content, high in fibre, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients and they cause only a little insulin to be released. Aim for 4-5 servings of these vegetables a day. Fibrous carbohydrates DO NOT include any grains, breads or starches – only the vegetables on the list above.
You can also eat:
• 2 eggs a day
• 2-3 servings a day of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter
• Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, horseradish and pickles.
• Ginger, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric, basil, thyme, oregano, black pepper, sage, cardamom etc…
• Butter, olive oil, walnut, avocado and sesame oil.
Here’s an example of how to do it for a 75 kg male:
100g salmon, 6-10 nuts, black coffee and water.
Mid morning snack: 10am
Large Romaine lettuce leaves, 50g of sliced beef, horseradish – crepes.
170g chicken breast with mixed leaf salad, tomato, ½ avocado, radishes and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Mid afternoon snack: 3:30pm
Crudités of carrot, pepper and courgette with 50g of prawns
150g steak, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and a small slice of butter to season the vegetables
1.5 l of water throughout the day
2 cups of green tea
As I said at the end of the 2 weeks slowly add back other foods for a varied diet, start with thin skinned fruits- adding back 1-2 servings a day for a week or two, then try sweet potato, humus or whole grain rice. The key is to eat small amounts of these carbohydrates making vegetables the centre of your carbohydrate content of a meal.
Certain supplements have an effect on lowering insulin production or making you more sensitive to insulin. Here are some examples:
• 2-3 g of fish oil with every meal
• Multivitamin and mineral 1 a day
So when you eat a low carb diet to control insulin and re-sensitise your cells to insulin with certain supplements you’ll soon melt away that muffin top.