Excess abdominal fat is not only aesthetically unpleasing; it can also be dangerous as larger waistlines are an indication of existing disease or the likelihood of developing one. When our cortisol levels rise, we start to gain weight around our midsection. This can be brought about by stress which triggers the release of cortisol in the body. Cortisol stores fat in the belly area and breaks down lean muscle which is most efficient at burning calories. This is a tough situation when you are trying to lose weight because the stress of dieting can actually make you worse off by increasing cortisol levels and preventing you from burning belly fat. How then, do we target this situation and flatten the belly? Try the following tips, they are sure to help you get rid of that paunch.
1. Stay away from sugar
One of the best ways to fight belly fat is with a healthy diet. Substitute unhealthy meals and snacks with protein, vegetables, and whole grains. If you’re craving sugar, replace your high calorie treat for one that is lower in calories and high in protein like a protein shake of your favorite flavor. Research shows that cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar by slowing the rate at which your body processes food which helps you feel fuller longer. Sprinkle some on your coffee or oatmeal and spice up your morning.
2. Exercise in short spurts
Abdominal exercises will strengthen your abdominal muscles, but don’t do much to burn the layer of fat hiding those muscles. Instead, do planking, which has you holding a push-up position, resting forearms on the ground. Do 3-4 sets of holding this for 30 seconds each. Other cardio exercises will help too, especially those that work multiple muscle groups, not just target a single muscle. Activities like moving around and walking will also help burn fat in less time.
If you want to get in shape and lose that belly fat, one of the best things you can do is to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Exhaustion can cause your body to release more ghrelin which makes you crave sugar and fatty, high calorie foods. And when your biorhythms are not right, you end up eating excessively. Increased cortisol from inadequate sleep can mess with your hormone production as well as insulin sensitivity which all contribute to belly fat.
4. Eat Healthy Fat
That’s right. “Good” fats like Omega-3s help you burn fat. Foods such as avocados, walnuts, and salmon are abundant in these. Foods containing healthy fats like nuts also help you feel full longer so you won’t overload on calories throughout the day. Unhealthy saturated fats and sugar are what will give you those spare tires around the waist line.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps offset the spike in cortisol that occurs when you are stressed. This antioxidant vitamin not only boosts immunity, it is necessary for carnitine generation. Carnitine is a compound that facilitates the body’s turning fat into fuel for energy.
Vitamin C is a great way to counteract stress or emotional crises as well as an unhealthy eating binge. Oranges are of course a great source, but did you know kiwi fruits, kale, and bell peppers have an even higher concentration of vitamin C than oranges.
6. Breath Awareness
Start becoming more aware of your breath. When you start to notice that you are getting uptight or tense, focus on your breath. Usually, when most of us are stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. Consciously taking longer and deeper breaths and filling your lungs and belly completely during inhalation and emptying them completely during exhalation will offset some of your tension. During each exhalation, say or think a particular affirmation to yourself – it can be something as simple as “slow down”. This is something you can do even as you’re in the middle of something else like driving, working, walking, etc. It is something simple, but can be very effective in helping you offset the effects of cortisol and lose belly fat.