Is it easier to lose weight in winter? Or gain weight by eating ice cream? What kind of daily habits will make you fat? Is it hard to trim your abdomen? A Taiwan traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician will clarify the above questions.
Is it difficult to reduce the bulky lower abdomen and to shape the muscles of abdomen? Fu Tang, a fitness coach, also introduces some simple exercises for shaping your abdominal muscles.
Question 1: Is it better to lose weight in winter?
Chilly winter not only makes one exercise less, but will raise one’s desire to eat more to gain calories. In TCM, it is believed that winter is a good time to lose weight. Physician Yu Yawen from Royal Jade traditional Chinese medicine Clinic in Taiwan said that in winter, qi and blood are drawn inward, which can activate the internal organs and increase the body’s own metabolic rate.
TCM believes that qi is the “vital energy” that constitutes life inside the body, and generally refers to the substances that replenish nutrients in the body as blood. Qi and blood are interdependent, both flow through the entire body, nourish organs and tissues, and maintain the vitality of the human body.
A study published in Diabetes in 2009 has also found that in wintry weather, the body will increase its metabolic rate. If you follow the same eating habits, your metabolism will be higher in winter than in summer, and you should lose weight, but why do many people gain weight in winter?
Yu said that people eat more in winter, and consume more sweet, high-calorie food causes weight gain instead. She suggests that controlling food intake in winter is effective for weight loss.
Question 2: Where does the desire for snacking come from?
To achieve weight loss, people should resist the temptation of snacks between meals. Yu believes that there are usually two reasons for the desire to eat snacks after the main meals.
The first is not eating the right carbohydrates. Good starches can stabilize blood sugar, while foods with a high glycemic index will increase insulin and store fat. In addition, the order of eating is also a factor that affects the rise in blood sugar. Eating rice as the last few bites of a meal can help the blood sugar level to remain stable, then you will not feel hungry easily.
The second is not eating enough. Out of fear of getting fat and attempts to reduce intake amount, people eat between meals. Yu suggested that if you still want to eat snacks, you can choose some healthy snacks with low sugar content, such as rice cakes and dried fruits. But beware of choosing foods with preservatives and saccharin additives.
Question 3: Are sugar-free drinks or foods safe for losing weight?
Yu said that one should not think sugar-free drinks or foods are safe and will not make people fat. Although sugar is the key to weight gain, when cold food or drinks enter the body at 37 degrees C (98.6 F) plus, it will affect the operation of internal organs, slowing down metabolism, which is one of the factors that cause obesity.
A study published in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association has found that elevated temperatures are associated with increased metabolic rates. For every 1°C rise in body temperature, oxygen consumption increases by 10–13 percent, whereas a drop in temperature slows down metabolism.
Question 4: Are salads always desirable for weight loss?
Salad made of lettuce is rich in fiber and low in calories and is a favorite choice of many dieters. However, Yu said that as uncooked lettuce is cold in nature, it is suitable for people with hot constituents such as meat eaters. But for people with cold constitutions, it should not be eaten in massive quantities as a staple food.
In TCM, it is believed that people have different types of constitutions. The two common ones are cold and hot constitution. People with a cold constitution are more susceptible to cold things and often exhibit cold hands and feet, with tongues usually white and swollen. On the other hand, people with a hot constitution are more susceptible to heat, with symptoms of dry mouth, constipation, and red tongue. People can find their body’s constitution according to the symptoms mentioned above or by consulting with TCM experts.
In this respect, TCM divides food into different attributes. Most vegetables and fruits tend to be cold in nature. Long-term and large amounts of raw food consumption can easily cause cold qi to accumulate inside the body. On the opposite end, food from land animals such as beef, mutton, and chicken is regarded as warm.
In addition, salad dressings are generally high in calories, such as mayonnaise 680 kcal/100g (0.22 oz), Thousand Island dressing 380 kcal/100g (0.22oz), and Caesar dressing 540 kcal/100g (0.22oz). All of these should be consumed in suitable amounts.
Question 5: Will I get fat if I do not drink enough water?
Yu said that the body needs various enzymes for digestion and metabolism and needs to remove the waste that has been detoxified by the liver. In that sense, not drinking enough water means slowing down the metabolic rate and will easily result in weight gains.
There are many formulas on the internet that suggest the optimal amount of drinking water needed per day. So is drinking about 2 liters (4.2 pints) a day for each person a norm? Yu said that the key to drinking water is that every sip of water is fully utilized by the body. So how to make it fully utilizable? “Just drink little by little (in sips) when you start to feel the thirst,” she added.
She emphasized that when drinking water, do not swallow it in large amounts, as the water will easily turn into urine and be excreted by the body. In addition, taking in too much water at one single time will affect the ion concentration in the body, and that will make people with weak stomachs feel uncomfortable.
Question 6: Is staying up late certain to lead to obesity?
On whether there is a close relationship between staying up late and being obese, Yu said that staying up late will make you fat because the human body will secrete an enzyme called leptin.
A study published in PLOS Medicine found that the more frequently one stays up late, the less secretion of leptin, resulting in less effective suppression of appetite, causing a drop in the metabolic rate of the fat cells, affecting hormone secretion and leading to weight gain.
Question 7: Can exercise increase the speed of weight loss?
Yu said that exercise is not the only way to lose weight. For example, one hour’s jogging consumes around the calories gained from a bowl of rice. She suggests that dieting is more effective than exercise.
However, Yu encourages people who want to lose weight to exercise, because exercise will increase pleasure substances, such as serotonin, which will help people become more resistant to stress during the weight loss process. Moreover, exercise can increase blood circulation and help internal organs to function more smoothly.
She suggests first reducing fat before weight training. If the fat has not been reduced, then the muscles produced by weight training will make you look burlier instead.
Question 8: Does constipation make the lower abdomen look bulkier?
Yu said that constipation is the main reason why it is difficult to lose belly fat. Sitting still in the office for a long time without much exercise and genetic problems are all factors that affect the efficiency of reducing the abdomen and/or waist size.
Yu added that there are many ways in TCM to solve waist and abdomen obesity. Those include Chinese herbal medicine to regulate internal organ function and augmented by targeted Acupoint Catgut Embedding (ACE) in the lower abdomen. ACE is an alternative treatment that continuously stimulates acupoints by implanting an absorbable catgut suture at acupoints. These two techniques can strengthen the function of the corresponding organs and improve the problem of lower abdominal obesity.
Eight Exercises to Shape Abdominal Muscles
Fitness coach Fu Tang said it is difficult to reduce the bulky lower abdomen because the abdomen accumulates most of the body fat to protect the internal organs.
To shape the muscles of the abdomen, Fu shares eight exercise routines below. He also reminds us not to put stress on the neck when doing exercises. In addition, doing it slowly, and exerting appropriate force during every angle of movement is most effective in shaping the abdominal muscles.
Exercise 1: Dead bugs
While lying flat on the ground, lift the hands, and bend the legs 90 degrees.
Stretch out the left hand and right foot at the same time, straining hard the center and lower abdomen, and keep your waist and abdomen close to the ground.
Then change to the right hand and left foot, repeat the above.
Exercise 2: Belly roll
Lie flat on the ground with the hands under the hips and the feet slightly off the ground.
Lift the feet, let the butt off the ground, stay put and feel the central part in a strained state.
Retract both feet, straighten the legs without touching the ground, and lift them up again.
Exercise 3: Get up and roll the belly
Lie flat on the ground with the arms outstretched.
When rolling the belly, raise the upper body as if in a sit-up position, keeping both feet away from the ground while bending.
Exercise 4: Banana style
Lie sideways on the right, straighten the right hand along the ground at 90 degrees to the body, and raise the left hand to form a straight line with the body.
When curling the belly sideways, lift the feet, keep both legs straight without touching the ground, and stretch the left hand toward the feet.
Repeat the above actions for the other side.
Exercises 1–4, shown in video:
Exercise 5: Touch the ankle from the side
Lie flat on the ground, bend the knees, touch the heels with the hands, keeping the head slightly off the ground and taking care not to stress the neck.
Feel the central part in stress.
Exercise 6: Turn the body around and roll the belly
Lie flat on the ground, knees bent, hands crossed in front of the chest.
First turn around and make one shoulder touch the ground. After lifting the upper body with force, let the other shoulder touch the ground.
Exercise 7: Plank knee point touch
Stand on the floor with the hands in a plank position, arch the hip backward, and make a straight line with the hands and the back of the shoulders.
Let the right hand touches the left toe, then return to the plank position. After the left hand touches the right toe, return to the plank position again.
Exercise 8: Plank knee lift
Put the hands on the ground in a plank position, lift the left knee close to the left elbow, and then lift the right knee close to the right elbow.
Exercises 5–8, shown in video: