One of the most common questions I get is how to lose belly fat. Belly fat is actually the most dangerous type of fat – besides aesthetics, large waistlines are indicators of –disease-disease-disease.
It takes more than just crunches! We start to gain weight in our midsection when our cortisol levels spike. Stress is one of the primary culprits for high levels of cortisol secretion. When this happens cortisol breaks downs lean muscle (the type of tissue that burns calories most efficiently) and also holds on to fat storage in the abdominal region. That stress can even get WORSE with bad dieting; studies show that the stress caused by dieting can increase cortisol levels, making no change in belly fat even with calorie restriction. So how do you shape up? Incorporate these 6 things below and you will be on your way to a flatter belly in no time flat!
If you want to work late at night, think again. When your biorhythms are off, you end up eating more. When you’re tired you produce more ghrelin, which triggers cravings for sugar and other fat-building foods. Losing sleep can also alter your hormone production, affecting your cortisol levels that cause insulin sensitivity, prime reasons for belly fat! Getting about 7 hours of sleep a night is one of the best things you can do for your body shaping goals.
2. Short bursts of exercises
1000 crunches a night may get you strong abdominal muscles, but with a full layer of fat on top, you will not get the results you really want. Instead of all those crunches, do exercises that engage multiple muscle groups and work your cardiovascular system. Try planking, where you hold yourself in a push-up position, resting your forearms on the ground. Try 3 or 4 sets of holding for 30 seconds each. Getting up and moving throughout the day by going for walks will also help.
3. Sugar is your Enemy
Fighting belly fat is 80% healthy diet. Reduce calories by filling yourself up with protein, vegetables, whole grains, and replacing bad habit snacks with good ones. For example, if you have a sugar craving, replace your calorie laden latte with a Muscle Milk lite, one of my favorites, because it has zero sugar and a ton of protein that will satiate while also torching my sugar craving! Another great trick is a sprinkle of cinnamon in your morning coffee or oatmeal- the spice has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. It also slows the rate at which food exits the stomach, which helps you feel fuller longer.
When you’re under extreme stress, you secrete more cortisol hormone. Vitamin C helps balance the cortisol spikes that happen to you under this stress. Besides being a good way to counteract a cold, Vitamin C is also essential for making carnitine, a compound used by the body to turn fat into fuel, making this vitamin your fat burning friend.
If you’re going through an emotional crisis, stress from work, or a bad eating splurge, increase your vitamin C – it’ll help counteract the negative side effects. Try bell peppers, kale or kiwi fruits. These have even more Vitamin C than the famous Orange!
5. Eat Fat
Yup, you heard me! It takes fat to burn fat. Like I said above, it’s sugar that gets you fat, not fat. Good fats include foods rich in Omega 3’s, like salmon, avocados & walnuts. These foods are full of nutrients that help keep you satiated throughout the day.
6. Slowing down your breath
This is a very simple method that you can use even when you’re in the midst of doing something else. Whenever you notice you’re feeling tense and uptight check and see how you’re breathing. Most people under stress either alternate holding their breath with short breaths or take rapid shallow breaths. After you become aware of your own breathing, consciously relax your belly and slow down the breathing. This works best if you focus on slowing down the exhalation rather than your inhalation. With each exhalation, you can say to yourself “slow down”. That is all there is to it- Simple but surprisingly effective!