Gut Health Blog

July 21, 2024

How to Deal With PCOS Belly Fat

Hello Everyone,

It can be challenging to flatten your tummy when you have hormonal and inflammatory conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

In this article, I’m going to explain why it’s hard to lose belly fat when you have PCOS and share some of my best tips for dealing with this issue.

What Is PCOS?

How to Deal With PCOS Belly Fat

Encourage Good Bacteria to Grow in Your Tummy

Move Every Day in The Right Way

Get Good Quality Sleep

Reduce Stress

 

What Is PCOS?

Many women have polycystic ovaries without having PCOS, but every woman with PCOS has polycystic ovaries. Let me explain… Each month, in the first half of the menstrual cycle, the ovaries develop follicles that contain eggs. One of these eggs will be released at ovulation and the remaining follicles will degenerate.

However, some women carry undeveloped follicles on the ovaries that look like bunches of grapes – these are polycystic ovaries. It is possible to have polycystic ovaries and not experience any symptoms but with PCOS, these cysts lead to hormonal imbalances and symptoms such as:

  • Irregular periods or no periods
  • Fertility problems
  • Problems with blood sugar balance and insulin resistance
  • Weight gain especially around the abdomen and belly
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Excessive hair growth on the face, back, and chest (hirsutism)
  • Thinning hair on the head

Tests may reveal elevated levels of luteinizing hormone and testosterone and low progesterone. There may also be problems with estrogen metabolism.

If not treated, PCOS can increase the risk of other conditions like obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, depression, infertility, and an accumulation of fatty tissue, particularly around the tummy area.

How to Deal With PCOS Belly Fat

PCOS belly fat accumulates as a result of insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance. It can be hard to shift, but it is worth tackling because this is the sort of fat that produces inflammatory chemicals which can make your PCOS symptoms even worse.

I recommend you follow a 4-step approach to deal with PCOS belly fat;

  1. Support your gut microbiome.
  2. Do the right kind of exercise and movement.
  3. Get good quality sleep.
  4. Learn how to manage stress.

 

Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.

Encourage Good Bacteria to Grow in Your Tummy

Many studies show increased levels of harmful bacteria and differences in the composition of the gut microbiome in women with PCOS. These shifts in microbial balance can be related to hormone metabolism and inflammation. The wrong types of bacteria can promote inflammation and “recycle” estrogen, leading to further estrogen imbalance.

You can support the healthy balance and diversity of your gut microbiome by eating gut-healthy food like this wonderful Flax & Chia Light Banana Bread or Slow-cooker Indian Vegetable Curry.

The Eat Burn Sleep food lists and meal plans are designed to encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria which in turn help with hormone metabolism and lowering inflammation. We have hundreds of recipes on the platform, all designed with your gut bugs in mind!

Move Every Day in The Right Way

Core strength exercises that improve your abdominal tone are great for dealing with belly fat. They really work! You can read more about these sorts of exercises in Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat Quickly.

Daily movement and exercise are important when you have PCOS, but it’s important to steer clear of workout plans that are too demanding and stressful. I see people doing intense workouts and not eating properly before or afterward, and this is a surefire way to worsen PCOS symptoms.

Workouts that are too intense increase your stress hormones and inflammation. They have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.

The EBS membership includes access to our library of hundreds of movement videos that build muscle strength and help lower inflammation. I do these exercises myself daily, and I guarantee you will see the difference in your health.

Each routine takes half an hour or less – combine them with the food plan and you will see amazing changes, just like EBS Member Leila:

“I am on my 4th week of the 6-week reset, and I have PCOS.

Already I’ve seen amazing results and feeling much better and lighter in my body (and mind)!

Really impressed with the quality of your work and what you’ve put into this amazing platform.”

Get Good Quality Sleep

Sleep significantly affects your hormonal health and shouldn’t be underestimated. Do you sleep easily for 7-9 hours every night? If not, this is a key area to focus on if you want to be free from PCOS belly fat.

Lack of sleep affects your appetite and satiety hormones. When they are out of rhythm, you are likely to crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates – things like sodas, pastries, candy, and other junk foods. Eating these sorts of foods when you have PCOS-related insulin resistance leads to more belly fat and more inflammation. I explore this further in What Happens If You Don’t Sleep Enough?

For insomniacs, shift workers, and people who have had a lifetime of waking up in the middle of the night we have Personalized Advice for Insomnia as part of the EBS membership. It’s a game-changer!

Reduce Stress

Stress plays a massive role in hormonal imbalance and inflammation. Stress hormones alter the balance of your gut bacteria, increase belly fat (high levels of cortisol lead to more fat storage around the belly area), and affect mental well-being. Chronic stress can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression which can make it harder to cope with PCOS.

So, please don’t despair if you have PCOS and a larger tummy than you would like because you can change it. You are not stuck with it for life.

We have many EBS members who have turned their PCOS around by following the EBS lifestyle. This is what Remi says about the program:

“After 3 years of sticking (mostly) to your food guide, I have healed my PCOS!

I just went in for hormone testing, and everything was completely normal for the first time in my life.”

We even have leading Endocrinologists who have benefited from the program, like Dr Mehreen Kahn:

“The lifestyle has helped me so much. I have PCOS and IBS/reflux. An added benefit for me is my cystic acne from PCOS just vanished. My 13-year-old acne is clearing up.

The bloat is gone, no more popping TUMS, and Gas-X and Omeprazole all the time. My tummy is flat for the first time since babies! I feel better at 40 (my birthday is tomorrow) than at 30. My hair is shinier, my nails are breaking less.”

So, are you ready to deal with PCOS belly fat?  Check out our membership options now.

You might also enjoy:

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Yours, in health,

Yalda x

 

Yalda Alaoui is a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist (with a foundation in Biomedicine) who studied with the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. She has spent over a decade performing groundbreaking research in chronic inflammation and gut health.

 

Yalda Alaoui

Author

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June 23, 2024

Low-Calorie Foods for Weight Loss

Hello Everyone.

Do you want to lose weight and not feel hungry all the time?

Are you looking for low-calorie foods for weight loss?

This post is for you. I’m going to share 5 important things about branded low-calorie foods so you can understand exactly what they do to your body. Then, I’m going to show you some higher-calorie meals that are even better for weight loss so you can decide what to eat to lose weight.

Let’s start with the 5 important things you need to know about branded low-calorie foods.

1. Beware of Marketing. Selling Matters More Than Your Health.

2. Most Low-Calorie Foods Should Carry a Health Warning!

3. Most Low-Calorie Foods Will Lead to Even Greater Weight Gain

4. Don’t Count Calories for Weight Loss

5. Low-Calorie Foods for Weight Loss Lead to Misery

1. Beware of Marketing. Selling Matters More Than Your Health.

I started researching low-calorie products and a quick online search led me to ‘low-calorie crackers’. The first one to come up was a sweet chili flavor rice cracker with 106 calories per 25g. That’s about 6 crackers. The marketing focus is on the calories as they are written in big bold type on the label, the same size as the logo.

The label for these crackers tells you they are ‘baked not fried’, 93% fat-free, gluten-free, and are a healthy, delicious low-fat snack.

Here are the ingredients:

Rice (84.5%), Rice Bran Oil (Contains Antioxidant: Soy Tocopherols), Sugar (4.3%), Salt, Milk Powder, Hydrolysed Soy Protein, Tomato Powder, Garlic Powder, Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce Powder (Soy, Rice, Salt), Onion Powder, Acidity Regulators: Calcium Lactate, Sodium Acetates, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Flavor Enhancers: Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Vinegar Flavor, Maltodextrin, Paprika Powder (0.1%), Chilli Powder (0.1%), Colouring: Paprika Extract, Anticaking: Silicon Dioxide, Antioxidant: Soy Tocopherol, Capsicum Extract.

Do these ingredients sound healthy to you? Do you have them in your store cupboard? Why does a simple cracker need to contain so many chemicals? The answer, of course, is that these crackers are an ultra-processed, highly addictive food.

Young female doctor consulting overweight woman in clinic

2. Most Low-Calorie Foods Should Carry a Health Warning!

Ultra-processed foods like this are riddled with enhancers, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and other additives. These chemicals damage your gut microbiome and cause gut dysbiosis (Song et al, 2023).

Gut dysbiosis leads to chronic inflammation, which causes obesity!

It’s no coincidence that ultra-processed foods are big business, and obesity and diseases are on the rise. Over 1 billion people in the world are obese. That includes 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents, and 39 million children!

3. Most Low-Calorie Foods Will Lead to Even Greater Weight Gain

The bad bacteria that cause obesity love these acidity regulators, flavor enhancers, and anticaking agents. They will let your brain know that they want more of this rubbish so that they can survive and wipe out your good bacteria. This is why ultra-processed foods become addictive.

These chemicals confuse the brain’s hunger-reward system. They trick you into thinking you are eating something healthy, and your body searches for fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Because these foods are nutritionally deficient, your brain tells you to keep on eating, in the hope that you will find the nutrients you need. Ultra-processed food is wiping out our natural eating habits, and the body is starving.

This is why obesity is on the rise. These chemicals are in all low-calorie, marketed foods. Bodies are getting bigger, and malnutrition is getting greater. 

But when you eat real food filled with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, your body knows how to utilize it. You don’t feel constantly hungry with a nutrient-rich diet. And more importantly, you won’t become obese and inflamed.

Fat woman., Shape up healthy stomach muscle, and diet lifestyle, to reduce belly concept.

4. Don’t Count Calories for Weight Loss

The ultra-processed low-calorie rice crackers state that they are 424 kcal per 100g.

We don’t count calories here at Eat Burn Sleep, but look at what you can eat for the same number of calories as these crackers:

 

A tray of chicken bites coated in anti-inflammatory ingredients, sprinkled with herbs

A serving of our chicken nuggets @ 200g = 310 kcals.

Two glasses with coconut yogurt and strawberries on top. Mint at the side.

A serving of our Summer Pudding, 113.2 kcals.

 

A bowl of Thai red curry with red and green vegetables.

Our Red Thai Vegetable Curry 217.4 kcal

Plus:

A glass of a chocolatey-looking protein shake made with cacao, with a red and white straw in it.

Anti-craving Chocolate Shake 92kcal

Plus:

A plate with a burger and salad on it, with a dip on the side with an orange napkin and knife and fork.

Moroccan Burger 204.4 kcal

Plus:

A bowl of salad with tomatoes, quinoa, butternut squash and other vegetables in a pink and cream bowl

Butternut Squash & Quinoa Salad 268.4 kcal

 

You could use the same number of calories (or fewer!) and enjoy easily digested, genuinely healthy food that will help you lose weight and make your brain and body happy.

More importantly, look at the superpower nutrients you are putting inside your body in these quick and easy recipes:

  • Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, C, D, E, K, and folate.
  • Minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc.
  • Fiber to support your gut microbiome.
  • Omega 3, the essential fatty acid that helps manage inflammation.
  • All 9 essential amino acids that your body uses as building blocks for protein.
  • Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant polyphenols from colorful plant foods.

This is why EBS members are putting their weight issues and inflammatory conditions into remission and enjoying one of life’s joys: Eating delicious food. Just like Natasa:

“Since joining the platform 3 weeks ago, I have lost 3kg, and my bloating is gone.

I have bilateral patellofemoral osteoarthritis (severe pain in both knees) and the pain is now much less. I feel like I can finally start doing movement videos that I previously couldn’t do because of my knee pain.

Also, all your recipes are so tasty. Thank you so much.”

Woman having great happy life, jumping for joy on the beach

Eating this way will fill you up and allow your body to function as it should. It will make your skin glow, your hair grow and shine, your eyes sparkle, and, without a doubt, make you feel full of joie de vivre!

Remember that when your gut is well-fed, your brain is too. Healthy gut bacteria regulate mood balance and our “happy” neurotransmitters like serotonin. Are there many diets out there that can say the same?

5. Low-calorie foods for Weight Loss Lead to Misery

Following a low-calorie diet and counting calories all the time will lead to misery.

Weight loss diets gain popularity because people do lose weight at the beginning. Any weight loss regime is the same, whether it is the keto diet, a low-carb diet, or a low-calorie diet.

But keeping the weight off is the challenge. I know because I have tried most of these diets myself. Have you read Is Ozempic a Safe Way to Treat Obesity?, The Dangers of a Vegan Keto Diet or Is The Keto Diet Good For Diabetes?

When you eat low-calorie, nutrient-poor foods, your body is not satiated. The chances are you will think about food all day long because you are starving yourself of essential nutrients that you need to survive.

When you binge because you are so hungry, your body will hold onto that binge food because it worries that you will starve again. And this is how yo-yo dieting starts. Starve and binge. Weight loss and then even more weight gain.

Over time, the chronic inflammation that comes from eating ultra-processed low-calorie foods leads to weight gain, digestive problems, anxiety, brain fog, and depression. It can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s Disease. Packing your body full of these chemicals is making your mind and body ill.

Young Asian lady celebrating her achievement, successful in slimming

What to Eat to Lose Weight

If you are looking for weight loss that lasts, I suggest you stop counting calories and stay away from ultra-processed low-calorie foods. It doesn’t work as a weight loss strategy, and it is dangerous, unsustainable, and boring!

Instead, give your body the nourishment it needs to feel energized and shed weight – just like EBS member Helen has done:

“I shed 10 pounds (4 and a half kg) following the Six Week Reset.

I feel so much more balanced and lighter inside and out, plus some digestive issues have disappeared.

The EBS approach is considered gentle and scientifically backed. I’m actively trying to maintain my now thriving gut health ‘garden’ as much as I can, limiting the damage it does in social eating situations.

I’ve never been a great cook, but I find the recipes so easy and filling. My favorites so far are chicken nuggets, zucchini bread, and chicken sausage shakshuka.

Plus, there are options for those of us with a sweet tooth or who can’t face savory protein for breakfast, which doesn’t happen on many healthy eating plans. Thank you, Yalda!”

 

Ready to lose weight and never feel hungry again? Find out more about our membership options now.

You might also enjoy:

Why Am I Always Hungry?

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Make every day count in terms of health and happiness. I hope your day is full of both.

Yalda x

 

Yalda Alaoui is a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist (with a foundation in Biomedicine) who studied with the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. She has spent over a decade performing groundbreaking research in chronic inflammation and gut health.

Yalda Alaoui

Author

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Join the Eat Burn Sleep email newsletter and be the first to hear about new tips, and recipes!

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May 19, 2024

Best Exercise to Lose Belly Fat Quickly

Hi Everyone!

How can I flatten my tummy? I get asked this question a lot, and I’m pleased to say that my answer never fails!

Every week, I receive testimonials from members saying they cannot believe their weight loss and the difference in their body shape. This is why I’m writing this article about how you can lose belly fat quickly and get a flat tummy.

Best Exercise to Lose Belly Fat and Flatten Your Tummy

What Exercise Should You Do Every Day to Lose Belly Fat?

How To Flatten Your Tummy Quickly

Best Exercise to Lose Belly Fat and Flatten Your Tummy

Before we dive into the exercises, I need to explain the different types of fat we all have. There are two main types:

Subcutaneous fat is the fat lying just underneath your skin. It is usually harmless and helps regulate body temperature and protect your bones from injury.

Visceral fat lies much deeper in your abdominal cavity. It can build up around your stomach, liver, kidneys, intestines, and inside your arteries. This type of fat behaves in a different way to subcutaneous fat. It releases pro-inflammatory chemicals and hormones, increasing your risk of systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, Type-II diabetes, and heart disease.

Women who have had children are more prone to visceral belly fat than women who haven’t. And when a woman reaches menopause, the drop in estrogen encourages more fat deposition in the belly area – regardless of whether you have had kids or not.

However, both men and women of all ages can reduce the risk of visceral fat build-up by eating foods that do not contribute to belly fat (and some of it is surprising) while doing exercises to strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles.

The key here is consistency. If you want to see positive results, you have to build healthy habits that last.

Trends in exercises and exercise machines for losing belly fat and flattening your tummy come and go. They are not all good for your body. Many trendy exercises can inflame your body, increasing your risk of disease. And some exercises may be fine when you are young but less suitable as you age. For example, I was a runner until my physiotherapist put me off by asking if I wanted joint and bladder issues!

 

What Exercise Should You Do Every Day to Lose Belly Fat?

Forcing yourself through a grueling exercise routine for an hour every day to lose belly fat isn’t as effective as any gentle movements in the movements section.

Prolonged, intensive exercise has other drawbacks too. Some studies show that high-intensity exercise releases endorphins linked to increased negative feelings and pain. This could be one of the reasons why many people dread this sort of daily exercise and quickly abandon it.

To reduce belly fat and focus on flattening your tummy, start the 6 Week Reset as soon as you can and do these exercises every day:

19-minute Stretch For Digestive Issues

19-minute Core Fire & Body Strength

22-minute Glutes & Core

25-minute Bloat & Digestion

31-minute Powerful Core & Glutes

34-minute Arms, Abs & Glutes

26-minute Yoga & Pilates

I recommend measuring yourself today and again next week to see the difference!

If you do this you cannot go wrong in your quest to reduce belly fat and flatten your tummy.

These powerful movements are easy to follow but do not have you breaking into hot sweats. They are not jarring to your joints and bones so there is no risk of creating future joint issues. Check out the ones with meditations. They are so nourishing to the mind, body, and soul.

How To Flatten Your Tummy Quickly

Start the 6-Week Reset as soon as possible, like today. The 6-week Reset tells you what to eat each day and when to incorporate the exercises and meditation practices. Our Red List of foods identifies the foods that contribute to belly fat. Stick with the Green List foods, with occasional treats from the Orange List and you will be successful!

Follow the daily movement plans and focus on the exercises that develop core strength and tone your abdominal muscles. Get out for a walk as often as you can too. Walking complements the EBS lifestyle, helping you reduce belly fat and gain muscle. I love walking, and I share my reasons why in this article: 10 Reasons to Walk.

Even a 12-minute Morning Wake-up will do wonders to get you started. As long as you enjoy plenty of the anti-inflammatory foods and drinks listed in the Lifestyle Guide, you will never be hungry.

Sleep and Weight Loss

Remember that you will also sleep better when you follow the Eat Burn Sleep program. Good quality sleep is crucial for healthy weight balance and there are many studies to prove this.  Overall, adults who have 7- 8 hours of good quality sleep a night have less visceral belly fat than someone who only has 5 hours or less.

Read more about it in this post: Weight Loss & the Link to Sleep.

You can age well and have a flat tummy. And it’s never too late to start working toward this. Weight gain can be safely turned around with the right foods, movement, and relaxation. I do all of the above and am in the best shape ever. I don’t do anything extra!

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out our members’ reviews from people like Ingrid, Selima, and Julie…

“EBS not only helped me mentally, but it also gave me the push I needed to finally take control of my drinking. I used to love a drink at the end of a busy day, but it got so easily out of hand for me and I felt so well by following the lifestyle that I decided I didn’t need to do it anymore. That was last June and I’ve never felt better.

My weight has always been between 9.7 and 10 stone and as a result, it’s now been 8st for the last few months.” Ingrid

I can’t thank you enough for all the goodness you’ve brought to my life. Feeling so good after a three-year burnout and three kids, thanks to your food and motivational insights. Plus, 10 kilos down with very little effort postpartum!

Thank you!!!” Selima

“I am so impressed with what the EBS lifestyle has done for my body. My husband, family, and friends have all noticed as well. Nearly 5 months later and weighing a healthy 12lbs less than when I started, I love it!” Julie

 

Do you want results like these? Get started on your flat belly TODAY! Take a look at the program and check out our membership options now.

Once you’ve joined, you can catch the Masterclass Lives on How to Stay Fit Beyond 35, Perimenopause & Menopause Weight Loss, How to Get Rid of Cravings and Emotional Eating.

You might also enjoy:

Does Cortisol Cause Weight Gain?

How Much Does Inflammation Affect Weight Loss?

Is AG1 Supplement Good For You?

 

With love for your weight loss journey,

Yalda x

Yalda Alaoui

Yalda Alaoui is a qualified Naturopathic Nutritionist (with a foundation in Biomedicine) who studied with the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London. She has spent over a decade performing groundbreaking research in chronic inflammation and gut health.

 

Yalda Alaoui

Author

Eat. Burn. Subscribe.

Join the Eat Burn Sleep email newsletter and be the first to hear about new tips, and recipes!

Continue Reading

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