What causes the build-up of fat around the tummy area and what is the best way to get rid of it?
Well, this is not as straight forward a question as it might seem. While a fat stomach is often the result of an overall gain in weight, many people seem to only put on weight in this area, or find it relativity easy to lose weight from other parts of the body but find it very hard to lose the tummy fat.
If this is the case your problem may have far less to do with calories and exercise and more to do with your stress levels.
What has stress got to do with tummy fat?
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands, which are located just above the kidneys. Cortisol is responsible for the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood pressure and when released into the bloodstream, can cause a rise in blood glucose levels and can affect fat distribution by causing fat to be stored centrally-around the organs (visceral fat) as opposed to subcutaneous fat which is stored under the skin.
Of course, we are all exposed to stress from time to time, but some of us secrete more cortisol than others, and if constantly faced with the same stressors find ourselves in a constant cycle of cortisol secretion which over time can lead to an excess of visceral abdominal fat.
With the pace of modern life, we can find ourselves bombarded with many stressful situations whether at work while commuting or at home and on top of those, add a lack of sleep, Smoking, alcohol consumption, and too little exercise and you can see how stress can be a contributory factor to an increase in tummy fat.
Bottom line; If you have chronically high-stress levels, your body is producing too much of this hormone.
Lower your stress levels and lose the tummy fat
So if you have tried all the other advice about diet and exercise and still can’t lose the tummy fat, try some of these stress-busting techniques.
Get more sleep
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest causes of chronic stress if you are getting less then eight hours sleep per night, getting in those extra hours could help you lower your stress levels and start getting your cortisol under control.
Learn to relax
Take up yoga, meditation or Tai Chi, not the first types of activity that come to mind when trying to lose the fat around your tummy but they are all-powerful stress busters.
This might be a hard one
Avoid stimulants like caffeine, ephedra, and guarana.
Eat more oily fish
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, trout, and mackerel contain Omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to lower cortisol levels. You may also consider taking an omega 3 supplement.
Eat little but often
Eat five to six small meals per day rather than two or three bigger meals to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Get more Exercise
Exercise increases endorphins and helps to lower stress, but it is important that you do not over train, as this can have the opposite effect. A good personal trainer can help you devise a suitable program and show you how to exercise safely.
Supplements with calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and B-complex and Phosphatidyl Serine and Ashwaganda are also very good stress busters.
There are many other stress releasing methods and strategies out there but the take-home message is if you want to lose the tummy fat, lose the stress.