Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Belly Fat Fighting Smoothie Recipe

Now that we are coming out of the winter blues around these parts, I having been feeling the need to start exercising and getting my weight in check again. I did very well last summer, but as soon as the weather turned cold and rainy, the last thing I wanted to to was exercise, and my diet went out the window too. Hello comfort food!

Anyway, to go along with my new found desire to slim down, I have been busy concocting a smoothie with a ton of belly fat busting ingredients. I have had this the past week for breakfast and it is amazing and keeps me full for quite a while. Just thought I would share in case anyone else out there needs a little help in the tummy area as well. Enjoy!

The smoothie recipe:

1 cup Frozen Blueberries
1 whole banana peeled and broken into chunks
1/2 cup frozen or fresh spinach
enough juice of your choice (I use orange for the Vitamin C boost) to make the blender go (start with a 1/4 cup) and go up from there. I like my smoothies very thick and frozen.

For the topping:

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup crushed walnuts (or combo of almonds and walnuts)
2 tbsp. ground flax seed

Combine in a pan on the stove and cook over medium low heat until they just start to get toasty and you can smell the deliciousness. Remove from the heat and let cool and then sprinkle over your smoothie.

Below are the ingredients that are super belly fat busting, and the reasoning behind it.

1. Blueberries -
Blueberries, as well as berries such as strawberries and raspberries, contain a type of plant chemical called anthocyanins that may help you burn abdominal fat faster, according to a "Parenting" magazine article. Blueberries also happen to be loaded with fiber, which can help your body absorb fewer calories from other foods and help you stay full so that you're less likely to eat too many calories in meals. The antioxidants in blueberries may also help you burn belly fat because they increase your blood flow and can improve your muscles' performance during workouts. Aim for at least a half cup of blueberries a day.

2. Spinach - (or dark leafy greens)
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach pack a triple punch to an expanding waistline. A single cup of spinach is worth only about 40 calories, but it contains enough stomach-filling fiber to account for 20 percent of your daily requirement, according to "Fitness" magazine. Spinach is also rich in calcium, which helps your muscles contract and helps give you the strength you need to burn belly fat during workouts.

3. Oatmeal -
Unlike refined grains such as white rice and white flour, whole grains such as oatmeal are rich in fiber, which helps you stay full on fewer calories and can help you lose belly weight. Whole grains also happen to be rich in chromium and magnesium, which can control two hormones that encourage fat to pile in the midsection, according to "Parenting" magazine. Aim for at least three half-cup servings of whole grains per day, and don't feel limited to oatmeal. Quinoa, brown rice and 100 percent whole-wheat bread also count as whole grains.

4. Flax Seed and Walnuts - High in Omega -3's -

Omega-3 and Metabolic Rate

Omega-3 consumption can influence the speed at which you are able to burn calories, especially while on a diet. Omega-3 fats work to keep a hormone that directly influences the metabolism's speed, called leptin, at high levels. According to Dr. John Berardi, when leptin is present in high amounts, the metabolic rate remains higher than normal while also reducing overall hunger, increasing your likelihood of maintaining weight-loss success while dieting.

Omega-3 and Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin sensitivity is the ability of your body's cells to recognize the presence of insulin and to allow more sugar molecules to be burned for energy instead of being stored as fat. In general, the more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the less you will store fat from meals higher in carbohydrates. Increasing omega-3 consumption in the form of both fish oil supplementation and also eating about 1 lb. of cold-water fish each week significantly improves insulin sensitivity and assists in fat loss, according to the Life Extension Foundation, an organization dedicated to nutritional pharmacology. Eat weekly meals containing salmon, mackerel and sardines and include a few capsules of fish oil each day to help reduce belly fat.

Omega-3 and Fat Metabolism

Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can improve the rate at which your body metabolizes fats eaten with meals. According to research in the December 2007 Journal of Nutrition, two weeks of fish-oil supplementation equal to 3g daily improved the metabolism of fat in the intestine and reduced weight gain in overfed animals. In another study, researchers discovered that the same two-week period resulted in gene alterations, particularly of the "anti-obesity" gene.

5. Banana -
While banana's are not on the list of helping to burn belly fat, the potassium in them does help with bloating in the midsection. Foods high in potassium, such as bananas and potatoes help your body get rid of excess water weight, minimizing your middle. The extra fluid is usually a result of imbalance between potassium and sodium. When sodium gets too high, your tissues hold on to fluid. An optimum amount of potassium is 4,700 mg a day. One banana contains a whopping 450mg! But you can also get a lot of potassium from beans, potatoes and halibut.

So there you have it, one powerful smoothie breakfast for your midsection!

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