Shedding belly fat is a priority for many people during the summer months. And summer, it turns out, is a great time to lose that excess weight and not because it is unsightly, but because it is unhealthy.

Belly fat (aka truncal obesity) is related to blood sugar metabolism problems, such as diabetes, prediabetes, hyperglycemia and/or hypoglycemia. Belly fat is also an indicator that inflammation is present and a warning sign of impending chronic disease. So while we may be motivated in the short term by a trim waste, there are plenty of long-term health implications that make it worthwhile to focus on shedding belly fat.

Lab work is a great place to start when focusing on decreasing belly fat.

Labs will help establish a benchmark and help to determine whether or not blood sugar is a problem. It also helps us gauge how gentle or aggressive to make the treatment plan. I recommend the following labs to evaluate blood sugar.

  • Fasting glucose – typically this is done on a Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) – this value examines if blood sugars have been elevated over the past 3 months and if therefore more of an accurate snap shot

There are a few symptoms to watch for if blood sugar is an issue:

  • Getting tired after meals or snacks: a sign that you’ve consumed too many carbs instead of having enough protein and healthy fats.
  • Feeling lightheaded, irritable or dizzy between meals:  blood sugar is dropping too low most likely from having not enough protein and fats in your last meal.

What can you do?

  • It’s best to eat small frequent meals as often as every 3 hours. Include some protein with each snack or meal. Doing this causes a slower release of glucose into your bloodstream that is much more friendly towards your pancreas! Also, make sure to consume protein within the first half hour of waking.
  • Take chromium: this trace mineral helps to improve insulin sensitivity and will help you shed belly fat. I recommend the standard dose of 200 mcg.
  • Get 8-10 hours of sleep: Good sleep will help lower cortisol levels, which facilitates healthy blood sugar levels and this leads to losing the gut.
  • Consume cinnamon: this household spice helps to balance blood sugar levels and curb appetite.
  • Drink green tea: this flavorful tea decreases inflammation and aids in weight loss.
  • Move your body: exercise can and should be a byproduct of what you love doing. That way, it doesn’t feel like an arduous task to “exercise”.
  • Cook with coconut oil – because of the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil, it is a fat that actually burns body fat! It is also anti-viral and can be used as a facial moisturizer.

Whether you’re traveling or staycationing this summer, summer is a time to go beyond belly fat to improve blood sugar levels! This will set the stage for improved health in the fall, winter and spring. How have you managed your waistline? Share your experience in the comments section below.