Q:

I am currently really overweight (I am working on it) but I have a huge pot belly (35 in. waist). What can I do?

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A:

Answers (3)

EXPERT
Lisa Stollman, MA, RD, CDE, CDN (Registered Dietitian) answered
Hi Jenny
You can start to lose weight by making small changes in your diet. Having a healthy diet based on whole foods, think fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, low-fat dairy or nondairy alternatives (such as soy milk or almond milk) and lean proteins, will get you on a healthy path towards sensible and sustainable weight loss. Restrictive diets only set you up for failure. When you restrict foods that you love, you may find yourself bingeing on those yummy cupcakes sooner than you think! No diet will help you "spot reduce." As you continue to make healthy food choices and lose weight, you will see that you will lose body fat in all areas. Doing crunches and core exercise will help tone up your stomach muscles, but you need to change your diet to lose body fat. Couple the healthy diet with regular exercise and you will experience even greater results.
I highly recommend meeting with a Registered Dietitian to help you reach your desired weight goal.
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EXPERT
Christina Estrada (Certified Master Elite Trainer) answered
JP,

You may have a carbohydrate intolerance or CI. When someone's body doesn't process carbs well, they tend to get belly bloat and will more often than not gain weight in the mid-section.

There is a four-week test that you can do to see if you do, indeed, have CI. For two weeks completely cut out any and all carbohydrates.
AVOID:
  • All carbohydrate foods except vegetables. 
  • This includes but is not limited to fruit, starches, potatoes, breads, rice and most processed foods. Again – no fruit!
  • Beans & legumes
  • Corn
  • Milk, yogurt, ice cream, & cottage cheese. Lactose free milk isn’t advised because most of it is loaded with stabilizers/binders. 100% almond might not be advised for most because of the natural sugars.
  • “Energy” or “Nutrition” bars, including the 40-30-30 type and “low carb brands”
  • Most alcohol and soda, including diet drinks (and anything sugar-free *Nutrasweet, Splenda, Truvia, xylitol, sorbitol, etc..).
  • Honey, molasses, maple syrup, stevia
  • Processed meats and any processed and “fake” food
  • Sweet wines, beer, liqueurs (Small amounts of dry wine and pure distilled spirits – vodka, gin, whiskey are okay.)

What CAN you eat during those two weeks?
  • Whole eggs
  • Cheese (real cheese, not processed, and preferably not soft ones such as mozzarella), heavy cream, sour cream, butter
  • Meats – all meats are fine except those cured in sugars.
  • All vegetables except corn and potatoes because those aren’t vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish – sushi is fine, keep the avocado, leave the rice!
  • Pure vegetable juice, including tomato and carrot. Yeah they’re higher in natural sugar and a tomato is a fruit but okay.
  • All nuts, seeds, and their butter counterparts including peanut butter (yeah it’s a legume but it’s okay), and coconut (including coconut milk if it’s 100% pure no-sugar added)
  • All oils, vinegar, and sugar free spreads such as mayonnaise and mustard (no ketchup and no hydrogenated oils and no sugar-added spreads)
  • Spices & herbs area all okay; as are lemon and lime
  • Lots of water! Herbal tea and coffee is okay if you usually drink it (easy on the caffeine though).
  • NO coconut water (too high natural sugar).
After two weeks you can start SLOWLY adding these foods back into your diet. Start with one serving of carbohydrates per day - like a piece of fruit or a bowl of quinoa. As you add carbs, watch for symptoms of lethargy, belly bloat, and lack of concentration. If you start experiencing symptoms then you have found your carbohydrate tolerance and should strive to stay at or below that level.

Keep track of everything you eat for for the entire four week test. I like the fitbook by fitlosophy. It tracks everything you need.

NOTE: If you "cheat" during the two week carb-fast, you'll completely invalidate the test. You must be carb-free for two full weeks in order to determine if this is the reason why you are holding onto weight in your midsection.
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Meghan answered
Hi! There are great expert answers to this same question on ChickRx here: http://www.chickrx.com/questions/any-advice-on-how-to-lose-this-lower-belly-pooch-pictures
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Meghan commented
There are also fabulous tips on how to get a flatter stomach in this article on ChickRx: http://chickrx.com/articles/top-5-ways-to-get-a-flatter-stomach