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 partly hormonal.
Stress = More Belly Fat
When we’re stressed out, our bodies produce 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 and congests our vital organs. This means it’s associated with an increased risk of heart attack, increased 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, such as Christmas?
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, it’s easier said than done, but stress is actually just your response to a situation. 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 such as sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and adding whole grains, fiber and protein to meals and snacks. For instance, have an 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 and anxiety with omega-3-rich foods* such as wild salmon, hemp, chia and flax seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Foods high in B vitamins, such as leafy greens and whole grains, also help. 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 will reduce the size of your belly.
Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important for your health, and to keep cortisol levels down. You should be getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. Minimize alcohol and don’t eat for two to three hours before bed.
Eat a wholesome diet of natural, unprocessed and unpackaged foods. Most health issues and imbalances come down to your diet. Eat fresh fruit, raw vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish and organic poultry. Consume red meat once per week, have a maximum of four alcoholic drinks per week and limit caffeine consumption to two small cups or one large cup per day
*You can also take a good quality omega-3 supplement if you suspect your cortisol levels are elevated.