Losing belly fat (opens in new tab) requires determination and quite a lot of effort. There are loads of ways to lose weight (opens in new tab). However, losing the last few percents of body fat in order to live the dream and get a six pack (opens in new tab) can be almost as challenging as losing two stones of weight. There can be a variety of reasons why you can't get rid of belly fat and certain research suggests some degree of insulin resistance might be among the culprits.
Despite what you might think, insulin resistance is not exclusive to people with diabetes and it's not necessarily related to a sugar-heavy diet either.
Theoretically, anyone can develop insulin resistance by maintaining an unhealthy diet – and this could lead to type 2 diabetes down the line. Even if it doesn't reach that level of bad, it can cause problems, including making it harder to lose weight.
The good news is that for many people, insulin resistance can be improved by tweaking your diet which in turn can help you shed those extra few pounds. This also ties into recent research around so-called circadian rhythms diets.
PLEASE NOTE: The below suggestions could improve insulin resistance and general health but if you are at all concerned about your health or physical wellbeing, we recommend consulting a medical professional before you start a new diet. This is especially true for people with preexisting medical conditions. Please be sensible.
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What is insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone, generated by the pancreas, and its main function is to regulate nutrients in the blood, sugar among other things. Eating food stuff high in carbs and especially sugary food will make sugar levels rise in your blood. This in turn will trigger your pancreas to create more insulin.
Overeating and consuming high-carb food items often can make your cells not react to insulin properly. When this happens, your pancreas will keep on pumping insulin to your bloodstream in order to regulate sugar levels but your cells won't respond to it. All the excess sugar in your blood will be left undigested and stored in your body as fat.
When you have a big meal yet you still crave for something sweet afterwards can be sign of insulin resistance. Feeling bloated by the end of the day despite not having anything bloating could also be a sign that your body can't digest carbs properly.
If your digestive system is resistant to insulin, you will frequently feel hungry, even while your body fat level rises. Increased insulin production could also damage your pancreas and lead to developing type-2 diabetes. Even in its less malign form, it can prevent you from getting a six pack. Yes, even if you've been following our 15-minute six-pack workout.
We have been simplifying the process here but the bottom line is, insulin resistance can make your body less efficient at digesting carbs, resulting in you craving more food. You will feel more hungry and store more fat around your waistline as your body stores away all those undigested sugars.
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How to reduce insulin resistance
1. Exercise more
Regular exercise has a myriad of health benefits, from better sleep to improved metabolism, all of which can improve insulin sensitivity. During exercising, your muscles use carbohydrates as fuel, preventing sugar to be moved to fat storage (we are simplifying the process here).
Combine regular exercising with protein-rich calorie-deficit diet and you will see weight loss very soon.
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2. Cut down on carbs and increase fibre intake
Increasing your fibre intake can help you feel fuller for longer which in turn can make you eat less. Swapping some high-GI carbs – bread, pasta etc – out for low-GI, high-fibre carbs – oats, legumes etc – can improve metabolism and it is better for your general health too.
When you eat high-fibre food, make sure you also drink plenty to help your body shift the soluble and insoluble fibres in your metabolic system.
3. Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar could potentially aid weight loss and lower blood sugar levels as well as help improving insulin resistance.
A study (opens in new tab) quoted by Healthline (opens in new tab) found that "consuming apple cider vinegar increased insulin sensitivity by 34% during a high-carb meal in people who were insulin resistant and by 19% in people with type 2 diabetes."
Despite the recent resurgence in interest in cider vinegar – which has been used in folk remedies for generations – it is worth pointing out that one isolated study does not prove its effectiveness for weight loss. Also, most studies have found no evidence for the various other health claims made about cider vinegar, mainly in the Daily Express.
However, you could try to use apple cider vinegar alongside a sensible diet and regular exercise, and see if it has additional positive effects for you. We seriously doubt it is of any use on its own, but maybe it will turn out to be the magic ingredient for you.
Do not start guzzling it like Evian and then come crying to us when you get indigestion, kidney problems, bad teeth and complaints from friends that you smell like chips from a fish and chip shop. All things in moderation.