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, says 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 says. 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 says. 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 into 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 cup 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 to 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.)
Quinoa with Fruit and Cinnamon
Quinoa is simple and easy to cook, like rice. In fact, you can cook quinoa in a rice cooker. Breakfast quinoa can be prepared ahead, covered and refrigerated for several days. To reheat, add some more almond milk and warm it in the microwave.
2 cups quinoa
4 cups almond milk, plain or vanilla
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks or 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons agave syrup, honey or brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Toppings: Toasted nuts or coconut, fresh or dried fruit, nut butters, chia or flax seeds
1. Cover quinoa with cool water and soak for 5 minutes in a 4-quart pot. Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly and loosens any dust, chaff or saponin (usually removed in processing), which can give the quinoa a bitter taste. Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool, running water while stirring the quinoa with your fingers. Shake the strainer to remove any water. Set quinoa aside.
2. Place milk and cinnamon (sticks or ground) in saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Watch carefully as the milk can bubble up quickly and scorch. Stir in the strained quinoa and return to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let quinoa and milk simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, vanilla or almond extract and a pinch of salt. Cover and continue to simmer until all the milk is absorbed, another 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove quinoa from heat and allow it to sit five minutes with lid on. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and serve with milk, fruit, nuts, chia or flax seeds, or whatever toppings you like, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. ••
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her Web site is www.divapro.com
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