Stress and Belly Fat
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Last week I talked about "spot reducing" belly fat. Which is not possible - even though we all wish it was! Today I want to address STRESS and belly fat. Stress hormones (cortisol) play a huge roll in belly fat and our bodies holding on to fat in general. Regardless of the reasons, we all go through times in life that are more stressful than others. And during these times, our bodies level of cortisol increases.
What is Cortisol? Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and is produced normally during different activities such as waking up, exercise and small stress situations throughout the day. However, during very stressful times, the cortisol production increases significantly. This hormone is also known as the "fight or flight" hormone.
How does Cortisol affect us? When we are under a lot of stress and our cortisol levels are high, it effects our bodies ability to stay in a homeostasis state and in turn makes weight loss impossible. It's probably ok to state that during stressful situations, most of us turn to food for comfort since cortisol can tell our brains to eat more for more energy. Or the opposite - we may not eat at all. Either way, we are not focused on nourishing our bodies adequately. And over time, this can lead to weight gain if you are not careful.
Our adrenal glands control our hormones and when they are over-worked (such as producing cortisol on overdrive), the body starts preparing for disaster by storing calories as fat. It also does not let your body lose weight, thinking that you may starve, so it holds on to absolutely everything. And the most common place to store fat is the belly. Cortisol activates glucose, fats, and amino acids to keep our body fueled with energy until we eat. And when we eat, it most likely stores as fat.
How do we beat stress AND belly fat? Stressful times will come and go but it's our responsibility to take care of our bodies during any time. Here are some of my top tips to decrease cortisol levels in your body and be able to blast through that belly fat.
- GET MOVING: The more you move, your muscles have to work. With increased muscle mass, the more calories you will burn at rest and this can actually stimulate fat loss. When you exercise, your body also thinks it is getting away from the stress and actually gives you more energy. It can actually help flush cortisol out of your body with the circulation of blood!
- SLEEP: I cannot emphasize this enough. We NEED sleep... yet it is so easily the first thing to "go" when we are busy. The body views lack of sleep as a stressor thus creating more cortisol which is not good. When you sleep your body naturally restores itself. It goes in to a time of fasting and works aimlessly at healing the body. But it also rests. I recommend at LEAST 8 hours of sleep to my clients, and personally I get about 9 hours a night. I understand this is a very hard thing to do when you lead busy lives but the benefits outweigh the excuses any day. So get your sleep.
- EAT: Over the years, we have been taught to limit our calories. But the good news is, this is WRONG! Research shows that limiting and restricting your calories by too much can actually increase cortisol levels. So be sure you are eating enough calories - of CLEAN nutritious foods. If you are curious about how to find the right amount of calories, please contact me and I would love to connect with you.
So overall, be aware of what stress you are under and do these three things to help reduce the level of cortisol you have in your body.