Munavvar Izhar, MD, emphasizes that losing fat, especially visceral fat, is not easy. Belly fat is stubborn!
The body always prefers to use body glucose. If we have enough glucose for energy, the body will not touch the stored body fat. This is a first million-dollar concept people need to understand, says Dr. Munavvar Izhar.
The second million-dollar concept is that if the body goes in net negative caloric balance for one to lose fat, then that is enough for one to lose lean muscle mass too. The aim should be to lose belly fat yet retain lean muscle mass. To achieve that, Munavvar Izhar recommends targeting the problem by addressing a few other options and mechanisms as listed below:
1 — To knock Insulin Resistance and maintain Insulin Sensitivity
In short, we need to address the insulin resistance problem and find effective ways to retain insulin sensitivity to lose belly fat. Our waistline is an indicator of insulin resistance or sensitivity. Interestingly, our waistline is also associated with LONGEVITY. As mentioned in this article, “Wider Waistline May Mean Shorter Lifespan,” Munavvar Izhar MD characterizes insulin resistance as the ELEPHANT in the room.
Munavvar Izhar uses the phrase “fat loss,” not “weight loss.” They are two different things. He mentions that fat loss can be achieved by tapping into the fat stores and burning fat as an energy source in a fat-adapted state. According to Dr. Izhar, the important thing to remember is that in weight loss, we might also lose muscles, bone density, subcutaneous fat, and body fluids without losing the actual fat or visceral fat, which is considered harmful and is associated with long-term mortality. One of the indicators of such fat loss is our waistline.
Munavvar Izhar MD recommends that the most effective way to improve insulin resistance is to:
- Decrease Glucose or Sugars going into the body
- Increase the utilization of sugars in the body.
Dr. Izhar explains that to achieve the first objective, one must be mindful in eating and mindful of portion sizes to reduce the amount of sugars going into the body. Cutting out sugars, starches, refined products, over the shelf products should be minimized. Also, intermittent fasting (IF), which is feeding only for a certain period that is either a 6-, 8-, or 10-hour window, helps in limiting the amount of sugar in calories going into the body. In prehistoric times mankind would eat only when they had food available. That means they used to go through tremendous periods of intermittent fasting often.
Munavvar Izhar emphasizes that the second objective of increasing the utilization of sugars in the body is achieved by increasing the utilization of sugars in the muscles. That is best accomplished by the movement, or exercise, of the muscles. Dr. Munavvar Izhar says to make it even more effective, one can do high-intensity training or exercises, also known as HIIT. This tremendously improves the utilization of sugars in the muscles. Another way to improve the utilization of sugars is by intermittent fasting (IF), where sugars/calories/food is fed only for a limited period in the body, and the rest of the time, the body draws upon the calories from stored fat. Another pathway to improve the utilization of sugars in the body is using low-dose Metformin. Metformin is a time-tested drug that increases the peripheral utilization of sugar in the muscles and causes a breakdown of glycogen stores in the liver, whereby liberating that in the bloodstream and further utilizing it in the muscles. Once sugars are better utilized and used up, the remaining activity that the body does will then draw upon the calories from fat, leading to the dissolution of fat stores.
2 — Quality Sleep and Rest
Munavvar Izhar, MD, says that Sleep is critical for our health and well-being. Getting high-quality and adequate sleep is essential to losing body fat. The way high-quality sleep helps dissolve the fat stores is by keeping the CORTISOL hormone at an optimal level. Science reveals to us beyond doubt that elevated cortisol levels are associated with the balance of insulin and growth hormone, both of which have key roles in dissolving or accumulating fat in the body.
According to Dr. Izhar, when cortisol levels are too high (due to circumstances such as stress or sleep deprivation), it is impossible to tap into body fat. During the elevated phase of cortisol, the body usually uses sugar instead of fat as an energy source.
3 — Customized Workouts
Munavvar Izhar realizes that a human being has a limitation of control. If you cannot fast (IF) or skip a meal, there is still some hope for staying insulin-sensitive and losing body fat. The obvious answer is regular, moderate, or intense exercise based on your body type, health conditions, and age.
Both cardio and weight training help us stay insulin sensitive by burning sugar stored in glycogen and muscles.
Intense exercises (HIIT) can produce better results for staying insulin-sensitive and consequently losing body fat. However, moderate exercising such as walking, swimming, or jumping on a trampoline can produce good results too. Remember the dictum with exercise that “something is better than nothing, and the more, the better.” – Munavvar Izhar, MD.