Chances are, if you’re a sugar addict, you probably have some extra belly fat you wish you could lose. Wonder what causes fat in the first place? How does it go from food in your mouth to the squishy stuff around your middle? Does sugar cause belly fat or do fatty foods make you fat? Let’s find out!
How Food Becomes Body Fat
Food’s #1 purpose is to give our bodies they fuel they need to keep living- vitamins, minerals, and energy that keep your cells functioning.
If you have eaten too much “energy” then your body has to do something with it. I sure wish any excess calories I ate would just be turned into waste I could flush…but sadly our bodies don’t like to waste anything. Instead, our bodies turn on Fat Storage Mode to hold onto that extra energy for later.
While we’d probably all like our bodies to be in Fat Burning Mode, sugar in your bloodstream makes that impossible.
- The carbohydrates you eat become glucose during digestion.
- Higher glucose in your system tells the pancreas to send out some insulin to take care of it.
- Insulin pulls the glucose out of your blood by telling your cells and muscles to use it for energy (if they need it) and any leftover glucose to be stored as fat for future use (just in case you might need it later).
Sugar Is Pure Energy
As tasty as sugar may be, it just doesn’t bring any benefits to your health. It’s pure energy in the form of calories, created to be quickly burned as glucose. For the vast majority of ordinary folks, we aren’t burning it. We’re storing it. As fat! Glucose should be burned up first as our body’s source of easy fuel but our “tanks” are already full most of the time. There’s only so much glucose that can be used at one time or stored in our muscles. What we don’t use up, we hold onto for later.
It’s so easy to overeat sugar. It’s almost everywhere, in almost everything, and we gladly eat much more of it than we would ever need in a day. So yeah, sugar does make you fatter. Sugar does cause belly fat and all sorts of other trouble too.
Blood Sugar Battle
Homeostasis. For some reason I always loved that word. Ever since I learned it in high school biology class. It’s a word that means your body wants to be in balance. It’s always trying to keep itself balanced. Sounds so nice and calm doesn’t it?
Insulin is a hormone that should be our balancing friend. Its job is keep our blood sugar nice and even. Ate a little too much? Send in the insulin and take care of that extra glucose before it damages your cells! That’s how it should work anyway.
Eat too much sugar for too long and the cells stop listening to insulin like they used to. Now you’re working towards a diabetes diagnosis. Your body will actually lose its ability to take care of the sugar you put into it.
We want to keep ourselves in balance as much as possible. Excess is dangerous.
How To Turn On Fat Burning Mode
Now that you know how your sugar habits have built that donut around your middle, what can you do to get rid of it? You have to stop being in Fat Storage Mode all the time. To do that, just make sure you don’t have too many carbs. Here’s what will happen when you don’t have extra glucose:
- Your cells use the glucose you gave them earlier to do their thing.
- Cells use up the glucose they had and start pulling more from your blood as needed.
- The level of glucose in your bloodstream begins to drop.
- The pancreas works to put some more glucose in your blood by releasing the hormone glucagon.
- Glucagon tells your fat cells to break down their stored energy to supply it back to the cells.
Yay! Fat Burning Mode!
By the way, your fat cells don’t actually disappear. You will always have fat storage cells. What does get burned is the fat molecules stored inside. To ‘burn’ that, it has to be pulled out of the fat cell by signals from helpful hormones trying to keep homeostasis in your bloodstream.
An Appetite For More
The nature of sugar’s interaction with your brain’s reward pathways makes it hard to stop eating more sugar even when your body doesn’t need anymore. As I mentioned before, the cravings for sugar can be as strong as they are for hard drugs. You can’t trust your appetite to tell you when to quit eating treats. Emotions, habits and social circumstances can also cause us to over consume sugars.
That’s why you need to gather information, decide on a plan that’s right for you, then decide ahead of time that you are going to follow through. Even when it’s hard or you don’t feel like it. Even when your coworkers are enjoying their peppermint mochas and bagels with flavored cream cheese. They’re not in Fat Burning Mode and you are. Do you want to give that up or do you want to walk in a year from now wearing a power suit 5 sizes smaller than you could fit in today? Your choice.
Fat’s Not All
If you’re looking to get a flatter belly and slim down in other areas too, we should mention that fat is not the only culprit for your larger size. You also have bloating, water retention, and inflammation to deal with.
Bloat is a sign that your digestive system is in distress. Remember that sugars are the primary food source for bad bacteria and fungi hanging out in your gut. Keep feeding them a high sugar diet and they’ll return the favor by bringing on constipation, gas, cramping, indigestion…and a bloated tummy. Cut the carbs, starve them out and enjoy a flatter midsection with less discomfort.
Most people think retaining water is only related to too much salt. But sugar is mostly to blame (again!). Remember that too much sugar leads to too much insulin being circulated. And insulin also tells your kidneys to hold onto more water. Keeping this extra fluid makes you look puffy.
Finally, a high-sugar diet changes the pH balance of your internal environment making your body a cozier place for infections to grow. Ideally you want your body to be alkaline, not acidic. An acidic environment makes it easier for germs to hang out, puts stress on your cells and keeps your immune system on high-alert. So you’ll likely have inflammation throughout your system. Inflammation in turn makes it harder to be in Fat Burning Mode.
Can We Blame It All On Sugar?
It would be much easier if all we had to do was eliminate sugar to be our healthiest thin self. OK, not really “easy” since cutting out sugar is hard! But there are many other factors to consider if you want to start losing belly fat. Here’s a quick list to get you thinking in the right direction:
- Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Include plenty of vegetables and healthy fats in your diet
- Find ways to reduce your stress and relax more.
- Move your body more than you do now.
- Build muscle tone by lifting heavy things.
- Reduce the amount of toxins in your environment.
Better Than Skinny
It’s natural to want to be thinner and more attractive. Cutting out sugar is a big step in that direction. But let’s not overlook the other benefits. Don’t forget that in your quest to get rid of belly fat, you can reap other fabulous health benefits as well. Better health will go a long way towards making you more attractive!
As I discussed before, sugar can do some nasty things to your physical appearance. When you remove it from your diet, some great things can happen. You may experience clearer and brighter skin, firmer skin tone, brighter eyes, thicker and shinier hair, cleaner teeth and fresher breath.
Just the act of taking control of your bad eating habits makes you more attractive. It takes courage and confidence to make changes in your life. Even without realizing it, when you step out to improve your life, it shows!
When you cut out the biggest factor for illness and disease, you’re setting yourself up for a longer, healthier, more beautiful life. Melting your fat away is really just a bonus!
Tools To Help You Get Started
Ready to take action and burn off the belly fat? I’ve gathered a list of tools to make your journey easier and more effective.
Do you know how much body fat you have to begin with? It will be hard to tell how much progress you’re making if you don’t have some solid numbers to go by. I don’t recommend just relying on your weight because 10 pounds of fat and 10 pounds of muscle look very different! As you progress, you’re going to be moving from a fattier body composition to a more muscular body. Muscles weight more than fat but look thinner…go figure!
To get more reliable data, get yourself a scale that measures your body fat. You’ll be able to accurately track your fat loss over time and stay motivated towards your goal.u
The RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Scale measures 11 aspects of your body composition: weight, body fat percentage, BMI, muscle mass, free body fat mass, metabolism, bone mass and more! All your stats sync to your smart devices to easy track your progress.
As you’re tweaking your diet to move from Fat Storage Mode to Fat Burning Mode, you’re going to wonder what mode your body is in. Are the changes you’re making working yet? You don’t have to wonder! Grab some ketone test strips and you’ll know for sure when your body is burning instead of storing fats.
If you’re cutting down enough on your carbohydrates to move to fat burning, there will be ketones in your system. These strips measure when those ketones show up and how much you have circulating around. It’ll give you valuable insight into how your body is working.
Want to make sure you’re moving enough during the day to use up the glucose in your bloodstream? Remember that you won’t burn the fat in your storage until your cells need the energy from it. Moving more every day makes that happen faster.
For you techie people out there, try a Fitbit to keep track of your daily activity. Combine that information with the numbers from your body fat scale and the amount of ketones you’re producing to really get a picture of what’s going on inside your body. It’s a pretty cool process to watch in action!
I’ve gotten several questions from readers regarding supplements to curb sugar cravings. The one I recommend is called L-Glutamine. It’s a natural amino acid that supports your overall health but especially the function of your pancreas and thyroid.
L-Glutamine supports balance in blood sugar levels and so it can be a tool for reducing your sugar cravings. It’s available in both powder and capsule form. If you have trouble controlling your cravings, this may work for you!
As a bonus, it also helps with muscle repair, gut health and your immune system. Win-Win!
Raise Your Hand If You Want To Lose Belly Fat!
I’m raising my hand! Waving it around like a loony! Yes, I have too much fat around my middle (and some other places too).
The great news is, I know what to do about it. Even better news, I’ve started the process of cutting out sugar and I’m already seeing awesome results! In just 10 days I can tell my stomach is significantly flatter than it was when I started. It’s so exciting to see your body changing right before your eyes. I look forward to checking myself out in the mirror because now I know I’m only going to look better today than I did yesterday.
Do you want to lose fat too? What tactics have you tried before? Have you lost weight only to gain it back? I hope I’ve given you the facts and tools you can use to move forwards towards your goal.
Share your experiences with us in the comments below.