By Niamh Fitzgerald
Growing up, I always seemed to be just a little bit overweight. Annoyingly, I seemed to store all my excess weight around my abdomen. My Mum was forever telling me to pull in my stomach. Believe me, I tried every diet under the sun, from Atkins to Zone, and ended up with lovely slender legs and arms. However, they had very little impact on the size of my stomach.
Years later, I studied Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine and learned that my mother was right to be concerned about the size of my abdomen, since abdominal fat is the unhealthiest fat of all. Abdominal fat, or visceral fat as it is also known, is metabolically active fat. It interferes with the fat burning hormone leptin and it renders insulin ineffective. It is like an alien life-form doing everything in its power to ensure survival.
Abdominal / visceral fat is mainly stored internally amongst our organs; it feels solid and tends to push out our waist measurement. External fat is soft and tends to hang over the tops of our trousers as love handles. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the size of your waist is a very reliable marker for how healthy you are and how healthy you will be in the future. The larger your waist measurement, the more predisposed you are to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even certain cancers in women.
So, for those of us that want to target this unhealthy fat, what is the best way to go about it? As I experienced, abdominal fat is very tough to get rid of and usually requires a bit more cunning than just eating less.
There are 3 main things that ensure this fat’s survival:
1. Poor blood sugar control – mainly due to eating fast releasing carbohydrate foods (white foods), not eating protein, fat and fibre with meals, and not eating regular meals. It can also be due to chromium deficiency.
2. Liver congestion – Your liver is your fat burning organ. When it becomes sluggish or congested, your metabolism slows down.
3. Stress – The stress hormone cortisol causes a surge in blood sugar which is then stored as fat. Stress also causes us to crave the wrong foods like crisps and chocolate.
To help my clients (and myself) to tackle this abdominal fat, I use a unique program designed by a company called System Slim. This company was founded by Naturopaths in New Zealand and is the healthiest approach to weight loss that I have ever come across.
The System Slim program consists of healthy eating plans combined with natural supplements to tackle the three main causes of abdominal fat discussed above. On the program, you receive ‘eating plan’ and ‘weight loss’ booklets, a personalised health report, private consultations and three supplements. In New Zealand, they don’t believe in using artificial ingredients. As a result, all supplements are made from natural ingredients and are high quality, high strength formulations.
There are two herbal supplements. Cleanse Plus is designed to cleanse the liver with herbs like barberry, milk thistle and yellow dock, as well as cleansing the lymphatic system and kidneys with cleavers. Weight Manager helps to metabolise fat and naturally curbs appetite with calcium and turmeric. Both herbal supplements contain adaptogen herbs like gotu kola, ginseng and schizandra which help the body adapt to stress. The third supplement is a multivitamin / multimineral formula which is particularly high in chromium and B complex needed to clam the nerves, balance blood sugar and metabolise food.
I have been very happy with this program as all of my clients are losing unhealthy abdominal fat. One of my clients lost 6 inches off her waist in the first month and her waist was only 38 inches to begin with. Before I signed up to work with the company, I tried the program and went from a 32 inch waist to a much healthier 30 inch waist in the first month. My newfound flatter stomach did not go unnoticed, on my last visit home, my Mum tapped me on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “I didn’t want to say it in front of everyone, but you are looking lovely and slim.”
For more info, visit www.systemslim.ie