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Should You Burn Your Bread (not Your Bra) to Lose Belly Fat?

Alexandra Williams, MA
Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Homemade Sourdough Cheesy Bread

Today a friend asked me how I am able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim, when there are studies showing that menopausal women increase their “central body fatness and insulin resistance” (as the research authors so eloquently put it!!) unless they decrease their carbohydrate intake (bread is mainly carbs).

As this is the time of year when many women in my cohort (that’s just a fancy word for “age posse”) are making frustrating resolutions about weight loss, I thought I’d answer that question for all of you too!

Carbs and Belly Fat

The answer is simple; it’s the same answer I learned in grad school for counseling. The answer is “It Depends.” I’ll lay out some info and you can decide for yourself. Keep in mind that everyone’s different. I’m a physiologically identical twin, yet we are different sizes with different eating habits, and no definitive research saying our differences are carb-related!! If my sis gave up carbs, she might lose deep abdominal fat, while I might stay the same and cry about being separated from my beloved bread. It just depends…

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Abdominal Fat is Frustrating for Menopausal Women

Here’s what we currently know:

* Menopause coincides with an increase in several comorbidities including cardiovascular disease
* Central body fatness and insulin resistance are components of a cluster of metabolic abnormalities which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
* Studies suggest that the menopause transition is associated with an increase in abdominal and visceral adipose tissue accumulation
* The effects of menopause on insulin resistance appear to be moderate, if any, although available studies are insufficient to draw firm conclusions

* A modest reduction in consumption of carbohydrate foods may promote loss of deep belly fat, even with little or no change in weight
* Losing belly fat can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease
* Subjects in a 2011 study who consumed a moderately carb-restricted diet (43% percent calories from carbohydrates, 39% from fat, 18 from protein), had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those study participants who ate a standard diet (55% from carbs, 27% from fat, 18% from protein)

Cut The Carbs…Or Not

Should you base your decision on just a few studies? Probably not, though you would be wise to see if further research gets to a tipping point as more studies are done. But if you’re the kind of person who can wait 25 minutes for bread to bake, but not a year or two for more studies, become your own experiment. Try eating a moderately carb-restricted diet for a few weeks, using the percentages listed above. Or, if you don’t want to spend lots of time doing food math, pull all starchy carbohydrates from your diet, then reintroduce them one at a time. This includes breads, pastas, rice, grains, oatmeal, potatoes, legumes (beans) and squash. If a reintroduced food gives you cravings, bloating, digestive discomfort or mood swings, it might be time to say bye-bye to to it.

I'll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

I’ll Swing from a Tree for Monkey Bread

To go back to the original question, I don’t know how I’m able to bake and eat bread so often, yet stay trim. Maybe my intra-abdominal fat never read the studies. Maybe my body doesn’t know that I’m in the menopause years. Maybe all my exercise counteracts the “food belly bloat.” Maybe my fondness for organic food and ingredients over processed or packaged foods helps. Maybe it’s because I only eat a few bites of the things I bake. If I were to guess, I’d go with the organic food and ingredients answer. But a guess isn’t science.

One day I’ll have to do the food removal/ reintroduction test on myself. Until then, I guess my answer is “It Depends.”

If you want further info about bread and wheat, read our post “Is Wheat Free Better for You?”. You probably know the answer.

For further tips on making nutrition changes to your diet, read “Hormones and Weight Gain: Why Nutrition Matters” by our friend Tamara Grand, a personal trainer and scientist.

While your bread’s in the oven, run to your computer and follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. 

Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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12 Responses to Should You Burn Your Bread (not Your Bra) to Lose Belly Fat?

  1. AmyC January 13, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    It’s all so confusing!!! It was easier when I was young ;)
    AmyC recently posted..TrainingTruths: Let the January Thaw Begin!My Profile

  2. CARLA January 13, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    GOOD LORD I love you guys.
    As I head down the peri-meno path—youre my gurus.
    CARLA recently posted..I am Carla Birnberg.My Profile

  3. Pamela Hernandez January 13, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    I say timing is everything. Eaten after activity, when your body can handle them better, bread isn’t the devil. And I know you are always moving!
    Pamela Hernandez recently posted..Fit Myths That Need to Go: Fat Makes You FatMy Profile

  4. Jennifer F January 13, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    I have reduced but not eliminated intake of bread and other carbs like that, keeping up the exercise, so far so good :-)
    Jennifer F recently posted..Healthy Dessert Recipe | Broiled Grapefruit with Feta & Balsamic SyrupMy Profile

  5. Aqiyl Aniys January 13, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    This one is so tricky. I am a high carb guy now since adopting a plant based diet. I have lost 25-30lbs (I fluctuate).

    I was getting stuck on word you used “carbs” because people often lump all carbs together, but they react differently in the body.

    Simple carbs -sugars (I am talking about sugar from fruits and vegetation, and not chemically processed sugars, and processed sugars) are processed by the body more quickly which then lets the body turn to using up the stored fat (belly fat).

    Complex carbs are used more slowly and stay in the body longer which doesn’t give the body much time to burn stored fat (belly fat).

    Now when it comes to grains (bread) not all grains are created equally. Processed GMO wheat, which is the common wheat most of us eat causes gluten /bloating problems and is not digesting as easily as organic wheat. Other wheat forms like spelt are still better than non gmo common wheat.

    Simple carbs (natural non processed carbs from fruits) are easier on the body than complex carbs (starches) but if you do complex carbs (grain form) it is better to minimize them and stick to older forms of grains like spelt and eat whole grains instead of the bleached processed stuff.

    I got started and couldn’t stop (writing so much) Alexandra, :)
    Aqiyl Aniys recently posted..Cell Phone Radiation Causes Cancer: VideoMy Profile

  6. Jody - Fit at 56 January 13, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I like your last comment there – I agree – carbs are lumped by people but they are oh so different. I definitely eat less carbs then when I was younger but I also eat different types of carbs than my younger years… I eat bread but I eat healthier bread than my younger years – meaning it is just a bit cleaner but I always ate healthy bread. I stay away from the starchy stuff… eat more veggies vs. pasta & all that.. I have learned what works for me but I also have to exercise a lot to eat what I want too. :)

    It works to do things slowly like you explained so you can see how the bod reacts….

    Never giving up bread! :)
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Gratitude & So Much Gratitude Below!My Profile

  7. Rhea January 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    I always think “everything in moderation” although admittedly, sometimes this is not the case for me. I love, love bread – I actually started a detox today and I am not supposed to have any gluten and sugar…. oh my.


    happy monday!
    Rhea recently posted..Day 1 of 21: Body Bliss ChallengeMy Profile


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