A few belly fat facts:
- Many times, belly fat is linked to stress and high levels of cortisol.
- What is cortisol? Cortisol is a hormone made by the adrenal glands. Cortisol levels go up when the pituitary gland releases another hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Cortisol has many functions. It helps the body use sugar (glucose) and fat for energy (metabolism), and it helps the body manage stress. (Web Md)
- Elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to promote the storage of fat as a reaction to stress, particularly around the midsection.
- We can’t crunch the belly fat away. If this was possible, we would all have flat stomachs or 6 pack abs. No crunching program will get the job done.
- What abdominal exercises do – they strengthen the muscles that we all have underneath the belly fat. We can strengthen them all we want, which we should, but we won’t see are rock hard abs until we lose the belly fat. There is no such thing as spot reduction unless, of course, you’re seeing a surgeon.
- The overuse of steady-state cardio while in a steep calorie deficit is a huge contributing factor to belly fat. It promotes the production of Cortisol as a means to store energy for future exertion. High cardio with little food is very stressful on the body!
- Nutrition is really the driving force to losing belly fat.
4 Ways to Diminish Belly Fat:
You’re probably doing all the exercise right now – weights and cardio. Eating a healthy diet, dropping pounds, but your midsection hasn’t changed much. Leaning out and you’re in great shape, but the stomach won’t budge, right? I know where you are coming from. I have had this same problem. I tend to store more fat in my midsection than any other area. Looking at me, you would never know it, but it’s true and I feel your struggle.
Here’s how you shed belly fat without killing yourself:
So what do you do? There are a few things you can do! Below I list several ways you shed that pesky belly fat!
First, more is not better when it comes to shedding belly fat, better is better. The first thought is to increase cardio, right? Add more mileage – that is if you like to hit the pavement or clock that extra hour at the gym on the elliptical or treadmill.
- I did guys! It took upwards of three hours on some days to burn the fat in my midsection. I do not recommend this approach. It was miserable – doing this much cardio. Crazy, huh?
- Cardio has its place but, it does not need to be abused to be effective. We actually make it ineffective when we overuse it. We need more and more because our body becomes very efficient at it. The more cardio you do, the more you will need, as the body adjusts to it. Ever notice that when started cardio, you saw results for a month or so, and then they stopped?
Looking back on it now, I am like wow! I did that? Sure did, and I still had belly fat hanging around. And you know why? Because coupled with my very low calories and 2-hour strength training session, and lack of sleep, my cortisol levels were raised. It was overkill!
- Oh, not to mention, the fat burners. Cortisol was on overdrive!
- Cortisol is not a bad hormone; we actually need it, but it should be balanced. High during the day and decreasing as the day goes on – low in the evening.
- Why it gets a bad rap is because – if it stays elevated all day, we run into issues that affect the body negatively. One of the ways to ensure that is stays elevated is to do long steady-state cardio workouts.
Cardio Done Right:
2. Do the right kind of cardio! Like I said above, I did all the cardio, and my stomach didn’t change much. Not only that, I stripped some of that hard-earned muscle off.
- The right kind of cardio and the right amount:
- HIIT, sprints, metabolic conditioning – up to 2x a week
- Very short in nature- lasting no more than 20 minutes
- Walking… walk a lot! 7K – 10K steps a day will do your body and your belly good.
- Leisure walking, more specifically, aids in lowering cortisol because LW is restorative in nature.
- I love 20-minute or less strength cardio-based workouts, I’ve actually created 10 workouts that will get the job done, right here!
- Steady-state cardio is fine in the right doses when you are in a calorie deficit, but too much can blow back in the wrong kind of way. Hello hunger, hello cravings, and lack of energy to do anything outside of your lifts and cardio.
3. If belly fat is the area where you store most of your fat, it will be the last place to go.
The body likes to hold on for as long as possible (homeostasis). When we fight it by drastically dropping the calories low, the body fights back after a while by storing fat for later use.
- Work with the body by not shocking it with very low calories and overuse of exercise.
- Slowly lose weight over time. Keep your nutrition in check.
- The more extreme the change, the more the body will rebel against you.
- A good nutritional plan will have periods of moderate to low-calorie deficits coupled with periods of normal maintenance calorie to slowly affect the change you want.
4. Sleep- get yo butt to bed:
- High cortisol decreases the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that diminishes when were are stressed. We don’t get a good night’s sleep when cortisol is high.
- The kicker here is when we don’t sleep well, the next day our hunger and cravings increase.
- You must get your sleep to regulate cortisol – to bring it back to balance.
Stress wreaks havoc on our bodies. Overdoing diet and or exercise increases that stress and causes you to store unwanted fat. Unfortunately, in American society, we tend to be of the belief that if a little is good, a lot is better – not always the case. As I continue to say, moderation is the key! There isn’t a need to overdo either exercise or diet – overdoing it leads to negative consequences and actually keeps you from achieving your goals! Keep your cortisol in check by practicing these tips, and see if it helps you deal with that stubborn belly fat.
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