Have you noticed that no matter how hard you try you just can’t get rid of excess belly fat? Part of that may be genetic, but it can also be hormonal.
Stress = More Belly Fat
When we’re stressed out, our body produces a hormone called cortisol, which in turn actually causes abdominal fat cells to grow. This is because abdominal fat cells have more cortisol receptors than other types; causing them to grow in response to the release of that hormone.
Why is Belly Fat Bad?
Belly fat or visceral fat is known as “high-risk fat” because it surrounds & congests our vital organs, which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, stroke, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and Type II Diabetes.
High cortisol levels also cause other problems such as: sugar cravings, sleep disturbances, poor memory and a weak immune system. Have you noticed that you always seem to get sick during times of high-stress (ie. Christmas time)?
Are your Cortisol Levels High?
Signs that you may have elevated cortisol are if you have constant, strong cravings for:
-Pasta or other Carbs
-Mindless eating or snacking after dinner
Tips to Banish Belly Fat:
Manage stress levels: I know; easier said than done, but stress is actually just your response to situations. You are ultimately in control of your stress levels. Simply being aware of this can help, but you can also start exercising on a regular basis or practicing yoga, which is a healthy way to manage stress.
Stabilize your blood sugar by eating low glycemic foods (ie.sweet potatoes vs. regular potatoes), and adding whole grains, fiber & protein to meals & snacks (ie. apple with 2 tbsp of natural almond butter)
Stress is first perceived by the nervous system. Support your nervous system and control your stress levels & anxiety with omega-3-rich foods* (ie. wild salmon, hemp, chia & flax seeds, sunflower & pumpkin seeds & walnuts) and foods high in B vitamins such as leafy greens & whole grains. Try my Homemade Cereal tomorrow morning for a stress-free breakfast!
Avoid caffeine. The caffeine found in coffee, tea, chocolate, chocolate milk, and energy drinks raises cortisol levels. Eliminating or cutting back on caffeine only can reduce the size of your belly.
Get a good night sleep. Sleep is so important for overall health, and to keep cortisol levels down. You should be getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night (minimal alcohol, no eating 2-3 hrs before bed).
Eat a wholesome diet of natural, unprocessed & unpackaged foods. The cause of most health issues & imbalances come down to diet. Eat fresh fruit, raw vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, fish, organic poultry and consume red meat (1x/week), alcohol (4 drinks/week), and caffeine (2 small cups or 1 large cup/day) in moderation.
*You can also take a good quality omega-3 supplement if you suspect your cortisol levels are elevated.