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The Secret To Losing Stomach Fat

secret-to-losing-belly-fat

It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of people have excess belly fat. And I don’t think I’m going to be breaking news by stating that – in most cases –  it’s a situation that is at the very least unwanted and unplanned. Which makes it all the more unfair that stubborn stomach fat seems to be the hardest stuff to part with. Just like an uninvited guest at your birthday party it always seems to be first to arrive, and last to leave. And never an apology for its rudeness!

So how to get rid of it? Well this is one area of health and fitness that really does involve a bit of a secret. As you’ve no doubt already experienced, shedding those last (and sometimes even those first) layers of stomach fat is really not as easy as ‘eat less, exercise more’. Don’t despair – you’re definitely not the only one struggling with this. I’ve known even the healthiest and fittest types to still battle the midriff bulge long after their new good habits became a way of life.

But before I give you the good stuff, a few points you really need to know (just in case you’re not overly motivated to do what it takes!)

  • There are two types of belly fat – subcutaneous, and visceral.
  • Subcutaneous fat stops your 6-pack from showing (that’s right, you do have one – it’s just insulated at the moment!), and sits directly beneath your skin.
  • Visceral fat is what gives that delightful ‘beer belly’ look, often accompanied by a very hard feel. It is situated deep below your muscles, and surrounds your organs.
  • Both types of belly fat are not only unappealing from an aesthetic point of view, but they are both extremely dangerous to your health – although visceral fat to a greater extent.
  • Excess belly fat has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, increased danger of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, colorectal and other forms of cancer, sleep disorders and overall risk of mortality. In fact, abdominal obesity is considered a more accurate indicator of cardiovascular disease than overall obesity.
  • This is in great part due to its inflammatory effects on your body as a whole.
  • While both exercise and diet are useful in reducing belly fat, diet has been shown to be more effective. Sorry, but unfortunately those gym sessions don’t really allow you to let loose at dinner-time.

Okay, okay, enough doom and gloom – what’s the big secret I’m talking about?

Well, it all has to do with your hormonal system, in particular the hormone cortisol. Did you know that most stubborn belly fat is a direct result of excess cortisol? There are varied reasons for the release of this hormone (poor diet and lifestyle choices, stress, too much or too little exercise, lack of sleep), but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what set it off, does it? It’s there, and you want it gone.

Here’s what you need to do to detoxify your body of cortisol, get rid of that belly blubber once and for all, and make darn sure it doesn’t come flying right back again.

1. First off, it’s important that you’re doing the right type of exercise. While traditionalists will tell you that low-intensity cardio with a moderate amount of weight training is the way to go, it just ain’t true.  Studies have shown that high-intensity exercise has a significant effect on abdominal fat as compared to low-intensity exercise. This is because the lasting metabolic effects (up to 48 hours increased metabolism) far outweigh those very brief ‘fat-burning zone’ benefits. High-intensity exercise includes functional circuit training, heavy strength or power training (make sure you know what you’re doing), and interval-based cardio.

2. Cut out cortisol-enhancing stimulants. Sorry folks, but yes this does include a lot of the stuff I know you love. Coffee? Out. Energy drinks? Don’t even think about it. Sugar? I think you know the answer. Anything that gives you that gotta-have-it boost just has to go. At least for 4 weeks, in order to give your body a break and your hormonal system the opportunity to detoxify existing cortisol stores. If poor energy is your thing try relying instead on a good breaky and some decent sleep to keep you going. Speaking of which –

3. Pay off that sleep debt. Nothing jacks your cortisol up more like bad sleep habits or a long-term lack of sleep. And you know it makes it pretty tough to eat well and avoid excess stimulants. When you don’t sleep properly and you can’t get-up-and-go first thing your nervous system reacts by producing excess cortisol at night. This has the effect of leaving you tired but wired, and creates a vicious cycles of ever-worse sleep. The smartest thing to do is start going to bed at regular times and getting up at regular times. Avoid the TV, computer, alcohol, and sugar 2 hours before bed, and be sure to sleep in total darkness. Use an eye mask if necessary.

4. Stress less. I know it’s easier said than done, but every little bit of unnecessary work or activity you can eliminate from your life is another opportunity to reduce total body stress. Even the smallest changes in your work or home habits can make a powerful difference. Do you really need to check emails and facebook every hour? Do you have to update your twitter account daily? All these little things stop you from achieving the big things, and that alone can be a major source of stress. Relationship stress, exercise stress (injuries you haven’t dealt with, for example), and food stress (poor choices or eating foods you are intolerant to) are also prime offenders.

Of course it goes without saying that you need to eat well (see the recipe section for ideas – I’m adding more weekly), include good fats, and exercise regularly, but here are a few other quick pointers you may not be aware of:

  • Liquid meals first thing can elevate cortisol
  • Dehydration is a major reason for excess cortisol
  • Skipping meals will definitely cause problems
  • Having a good quality protein shake right after training will lower cortisol
  • Green tea also gets rid of the stuff
  • Taking even 10 minutes completely for yourself each day can help you to handle the stress of your busy life and thus reduce cortisol
  • You may require a personalized supplement protocol to support and re-balance your hormonal system. This is one of the most powerful ways to reduce any excess hormone and create massive physical transformation

Shedding fat off your stomach is likely to be one of the toughest things you’ll ever attempt to do. And most people don’t get there. It takes too long, or it’s too darn frustrating, or they just don’t know where to start. The good news is that you’ve just learned more in the past 15 or so minutes than most people will ever know in a lifetime. Diet and exercise are a great starting point, but education and understanding are what will truly make a change. Now it’s just up to you to put it into place and be consistent.

And, of course, it always helps to remember –

Life is Now. Press Play.

(Make sure you do)

Kat

**What do you do to manage your stress and (knowingly or not) reduce the nasty effects of excess cortisol? What has/hasn’t worked for you when it comes to losing belly fat?

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