Muffin top meltdown

February 26, 2012

Food, Nutrition and Diet

Myriad factors contribute to this flabby abdominal fat. Hormonal fluctuations (and imbalances) are a major cause for both women and men, which usually begin in the mid- to late-30s

by Paula Owens — 

The muffin top, aka love handles, is that spare tire of flabby fat that pushes out of the top of your pants, giving your middle the appearance of the pouffy top of a muffin. This phenomenon is common in women — although many men, teens and even children these days sport them, as well.

Myriad factors contribute to this flabby abdominal fat. Hormonal fluctuations (and imbalances) are a major cause for both women and men, which usually begin in the mid- to late-30s. Other contributors include excessive stress, inadequate sleep, the wrong or no exercise program, excessive aerobic/cardio exercise and eating too many of the wrong calories.

Contrary to what many people believe, genetics only account for 10 to 20 percent of the equation. The remaining 80 to 90 percent reflects lifestyle, physiological stress and personal choices. Usually there are good reasons why people who do not have love handles do not have them — because of their decisions to make structured, appropriate exercise and quality nutrition parts of their lifestyle.

So, what can you do to eradicate the muffin top? The answer, in a nutshell, is found in consistent weight training and quality nutrition.

Doing the same thing over and over — whether it is an exercise program, diet, nutrition plan or otherwise — and expecting different results is labeled insanity. Excuses, denial and irresponsibility are easy ways out, but will not change anything. In reality, it takes a commitment to a metabolic exercise program, a healthy diet, balanced hormones, plenty of rest, stress management and adequate hydration to see the kind of results you want.

It is also important to do the right kind of exercise. Walk into any gym, and where are most of the women? On the treadmills, elliptical machines or on the exercise bikes, reading magazines or watching TV.

Unfortunately, the media does not help. Morning television news segments, women’s magazines and the majority of gyms/trainers promote workouts focused on incredibly light weights, high repetition schemes and excessive aerobic/cardio exercise.

According to a study presented at the 56th American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting in Seattle, Robert J. Petrella, M.D., Ph.D., stated, “To really make an impact, patients need a personalized exercise plan or a recommendation to a qualified professional who can guide them along the way. We are also advocating that these health care providers recommend their patients to certified health and fitness professionals for proper exercise counseling. This education for health care providers needs to start prior to practice — in residency curriculum or even earlier.”

Contact a qualified practitioner to design your personalized diet/nutrition, supplement and exercise program. It is the best investment you can make in yourself. You will greatly improve your ability to accomplish your goals faster, more safely and with maximum benefits. The details of your training sessions, lifestyle tips, as well as the nutrition and supplements protocol, are empowering sources of information and can be used for a lifetime.

Below are bullet points that break down the best ways to go about getting rid of that extra belly fat. This plan will boost your metabolism, transform your body and make you feel more self-confident, leading to a new, leaner, healthier you.

Winning formulas to melt your muffin top

  • Address underlying emotions, psychological stressors and anxiety.
  • Boost your intensity and drop the duration on your cardio sessions and instead perform interval-style workouts for no more than 30 minutes at a time.
  • Consume the appropriate amount of organic protein, especially at breakfast.
  • Eliminate all sugar, soda, processed and fast foods, refined carbs, hydrogenated fats and high-fructose corn syrup. Take time to read the ingredient list on all products.
  • Focus on fat loss, not weight loss; how your clothes fit; and how you look and feel. Do not focus on a number on the scale.
  • Follow the 80 to 90 percent rule. Eat healthy, nutritious meals 80 to 90 percent of the time by fueling your body with organic protein sources, vegetables, salads, berries and healthy fats (nuts, avocado, etc.). Drink green tea, green drinks and plenty of water every few hours to elevate your metabolism.
  • Heal your gut and address digestive dysfunction.
  • Include de-stressing exercises, such as yoga, qi gong and tai chi at least once a week. With such a practice, you will experience more energy, less fat around your midsection and a more conscious approach to life.
  • Test for hormone levels and for food allergies.
  • Your workout priority should be metabolically demanding (full-body strength training by lifting challenging weights 2 to 4 days a week).

The desire to lose weight is often an opportunity to evolve. Something inside of you must desire change. Paying attention to your diet and starting to move appropriately will sculpt your body and transform your life. With a few simple, yet key adjustments in your lifestyle, you can say goodbye to the muffin top and hello to the body you have longed for.


Paula Owens holds a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She is a nutritionist, fitness and weight-loss expert, and the author of The Power of 4., or 480-706-1158.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2010.

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