Muffin top, the old tire, paunch, beer belly, the potbelly: belly fat goes by many names and can be a fashion hassle or just make you feel like you’re just out of shape.
Whether you’re on the path to losing weight or just trying to take off 10, belly fat is usually the last to come off. Biologically speaking, storing fat for survival could mean life or death if we still lived like our ancestors in prehistoric times. Now that our lifestyle is dramatically different, more sedentary, we need to give biology a helping hand.
Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone that’s released in the body when you feel stress.
“Cortisol affects fat distribution by causing fat to be stored centrally — around the organs,” for survival purposes. So when cortisol is released on a regular basis, your brain gets the message to store belly fat because you’re in an emergency state.
This would be well and good if it happened occasionally, but having too much cortisol in the blood stream from constant stress can also mean a suppressed immune system and regular fat storage even when you don’t need or want it.
Limit Saturated Fats, Sugar, Refined White Carbs
Does it seem that belly fat never seems to go away even though you count calories? It could be the quality of your calories instead of the quantity that is the problem.
Diets high in inflammatory foods (like saturated fats that you find in bacon, butter, red meat, sugar, and white processed carbs) can create insulin resistance in the body, and more directly in the fat cells around your mid section — making it hard for your body to downgrade these inflamed fat cells.
That’s why you should choose anti-inflammatory foods like MUFAs (monounsaturated fats) — for example using avocado on your sandwich instead of cheese, olive oil instead of butter, wild salmon instead of steak.
Choose leafy greens that are high in fiber and high in glucosinolates, a sulfur compound that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. You’ll find it in cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Not only can these vegetables help calm inflammation but there has been research on how they effect cholesterol levels. When lightly steamed, the fibers in these vegetables trap bile and fat to whisk it out of the body.
Slip into Deep Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep can keep cortisol levels in check as well, which means you store less fat. Getting enough sleep can also help you to control appetite naturally and help to improve your mood which means less stress.
Here are three easy ways to get a better nights sleep:
- Stop all intake of caffeine by noon for a deeper sleep, caffeine typically takes about 8 to 10 hours to wear off.
- Invest in a sleep mask for a deeper uninterrupted sleep, even as the early morning sun rays start to pour into your windows.
- Limit alcohol intake on evenings when you want to sleep tight. Drinking alcohol can make your blood sugar dip in the middle of the night, jolting you wide awake at 3 or 4 am when you should be getting your beauty rest.
Big Belly or Just Bloat?
Apart from actual fat accumulation around the midsection, many people suffer from habitual bloating and just don’t know it.
Bloating can come about from many factors including under-hydration. So be sure to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day: If you weight 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces of water a day.
These vital bacteria cultures can crowd out harmful strains like yeast, pathogens that cause food poisoning while they strengthen your immune system. Add in high fiber foods, since probiotic cultures need to nosh on fiber for survival and to help produce vitamins in our guts that we need for proper immune function.
Want to know more about digestive health? Check out Elizabeth Lipski’s amazing books!