Beating Belly Fat This Christmas!

Today’s post is a guest post by fellow Poliquin coach Daine McDonald, Director of Clean Health in Sydney. 

This is an article that both the Biggest Loser and the Australian media refused to put up – despite the Biggest Loser initially commissioning the article!

Here is what they told Daine –

“I’m really interested in what you’ve written, but I’m afraid to say I can’t publish it all. To be honest, I was expecting an article around exercise only, but  I realise I should have specifically stated this in my brief.
The thing is the dietary policy here is based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. That means a strictly low-fat message. It’s all through our diet programs and recipes.
Our editorial policy is not to deviate from the Dietary Guidelines because (a) they’re adopted by the Australian Dietitians Association and (b) we don’t want to confuse our members. It’s one message at all times.
I would be sacked if I published an article advising our members to eat full-fat dairy! What you say about alcohol also goes against our preferred position, unfortunately.”

how to beat belly fat this christmas!

Every week I get asked my gym members, friends, family and clients what they can do to avoid packing on some extra padding during the Christmas season. Should I be eating this? What if I ate this instead of that? What type of exercise should I do and when? You get the picture!

Well in the spirit of Christmas I figured it best to share my top 3 tips on how you can avoid the dreaded holiday bulge!

1)    Consume full fat foods to blunt sugar cravings

Yes you read that right but let me interpret it for you. People often get confused as to what is the real enemy of fat loss… is it fat foods or sugar? Back in the 80’s and 90’s fat god a bad name as the culprit of fat gain. However recently people are becoming more and more aware that good fats (think unsaturated fats) can be your fat fighting friend and not your belly bulging enemy!

The scientific community as a whole is now discovering that more often than not the main culprit is sugar not good fat.

Whenever you consume sugary foods you get a large release of a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to transport glucose into our muscle, liver and cells. If you repeatedly increase the release of this hormone over time the receptors to insulin switch off and no longer recognize it. Examples of foods that raise insulin in significant amounts are cakes, bread, pasta, chocolate, fruits (yes fruit!) and ice cream. So basically all the sugary and sweet stuff!

When these receptors become unresponsive to insulin big trouble or more precisely, big fat looms, as without an access point to these fat burning depots the fuel we consume can get stored as fat rather than being used up. This is known as insulin resistance. How can you tell if this is you? If you store your fat around your midsection like a spare tire than you fit the profile… oh and you have an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes!

So this is where ‘good fats’ come in. Good fats actually blunt the insulin response in the body, thus leading to a balanced rise in blood sugar and not a yo-yo inducing effect that most people get on. This is a good thing because with balanced blood sugar levels comes reduced stress on the pancreas and less clogging up of our insulin receptor sites which in turn leads to fuel being burnt off not stored!

So my simplest piece of advice is try and eat a breakfast high in protein and good fats (so as to not elevate insulin), which will help better balance your blood sugar levels from the start of the day. So eggs and avocado for breakfast or lean bacon/ham with some brazil and macadamia nuts will do just fine. Another simple trick that I picked from world-renowned Strength Coach Charles Poliquin is when you are craving sugar eat some fat, for example add some full fat cream to my coffee or simply have a tablespoon of it late at night if I am craving something sweet.

2)    Be active every day

I tell my clients not to look for vast improvements over the Christmas period unless they are training for a specific event. Aim to maintain what you have, and be comfortable with a maintenance-based mindset for this period.

Being active daily could be as simple as walking your dog to the park or going for a swim at the beach. The goal should be a minimum of 30 minutes per day. So that includes walking, interval sprinting, yoga/pilates or weight training. These are the exercise methods I use to help my clients get into shape year round. Frequency? Aim for 3 x weight-training sessions per week.

So why do I prefer weight training to running? There are numerous reasons however to pick out a few, when done correctly you can elicit not only the same energy expenditure as a run or jog but the hormonal profile of a planned weight session is going to be more geared towards fat loss. An example of the type of workout I might get my clients to do over Christmas can be found here.

This type of workout utilizes high repetitions and short rest intervals, which will lead to an increased production of blood lactate. An increase in blood lactate levels will lead to an increase in growth hormone, thus resulting in significant losses of body fat!

3)    Drink in moderation

This is the area where most people throw away all of their hard earned effort throughout the year. Think about it, your body treats most alcohol as a toxin, so if it’s first instinct is to try and kick-start detoxification through your liver, kidneys etc then it is a sure fire sign that it probably is not good for you! We all know the negative side effects of drinking too much so I won’t harp on about them, but I will make some recommendations, which will hopefully help.

My first recommendation is to switch your poison, as not all alcohol is too bad for you. Yes that is not typo! Red wine is always the best option. The major benefit from it is higher levels of a compound known as resveratrol.

Among resveratrol’s benefits are that it has been shown to raise metabolism, increase energy, suppress appetite, stabilize blood sugar, accelerate the breakdown of fat stores, improve insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, increases muscle mass and help prevent the conversion of anabolic male hormones into fat-inducing female hormones!

If that’s not enough reasons to trade in your beer for a red wine then I don’t know what is! So what is the best type of red wine? A Merlot or Pinot Noir as they contain higher amounts of trans-resveratrol which is the biologically active form that it best utilized by humans.

Other than that limit the intake to 2-3 glasses tops during a social event – not a whole bottle.

In concluding follow these 3 tips to ensure you either maintain or don’t gain body fat over the silly season!



Daine is (among many other professional certifications) a Level 2 BioSignature Practitioner and one of the few level 4 Poliquin Certified Strength Coach’s in Australia. He has also done several semi-private internships specializing in advanced body composition and hypertrophy with world renowned Strength Coach Charles Poliquin. If you’re a Sydney gal and looking for someone who I recommend to work with, look no further than Daine McDonald and the team at Clean Health. Don’t forget to ‘like’ Clean Health on Facebook for tips on being clean, lean and healthy – I do!

6 responses to “Beating Belly Fat This Christmas!”

  1. Amanda Gadsby via Facebook says:

    Unsaturated fats, not saturated, right? The post says saturated but that doesn’t make sense…

  2. Hi Amanda – thanks for picking up that typo! Yes it should say unsaturated, but in saying that saturated fats do get a worse wrap than they should. Nothing is never entirely black or white. This piece by Dr Jonny Bowden sheds some light on the topic:

  3. Clean Health , Daine your comment?

  4. I responded to this on the blog but yes thanks for picking up the typo Amanda. It should be unsaturated. However saturated fats have been given an unfair bad wrap as being ‘bad’ when in fact that isnt the whole picture. Check out this article by world-reknowned nutritionist Dr Jonny Bowden which may offer a new perspective on the topic of saturated fats:

  5. Thanks for the comment Daine, I thought I’d leave it to you as I wasn’t entirely sure that it wasn’t meant to be saturated! Will fix that typo now, thanks Amanda 🙂

  6. Amanda Gadsby via Facebook says:

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective to think about Daine. 🙂