You know that horrible feeling when you are trying to zip up your jeans and you feel that muffin top overflowing off to the sides.
Not being able to fit into your jeans or feel good when you are in your clothes is not a fun feeling.
So many women also come to me with their struggles with excess weight around their midsection and how frustrated they feel that they can not get rid of it.
Well, today I want to share with you what causes belly fat and what to do about it!
There are a few dietary reasons that can cause belly fat but one of the biggest reasons in women is hormones.
Too many processed sugars/carbohydrates. We all know that when we eat an excess of calories we will gain weight. Studies have shown a link between high levels of sugar intake and belly fat. Increased intake of sugary foods are especially problematic because they increase inflammation in the body and not only increase weight gain but can leave you more susceptible for other diseases like diabetes.
Alcohol can be have some health benefits but only moderate amounts. I know I love my red wine too but when drinking it in excess it can lead to inflammation, liver disease and other health issues. Alcohol also suppresses gat burning which causes weight gain around the middle, hence the saying “beer belly.”
Stress can be a major cause of belly fat. When we are stressed our adrenal glands produces the stress hormone called cortisol. I’m sure you have heard me talk about cortisol many times before and it’s affect on our bodies. Cortisol is essential for our survival however when we produce it in excess it can not only lead to belly fat but also adrenal issues, exhaustion and difficulty sleeping.
Unbalanced Hormones. As women when our hormones like cortisol, estrogen and progesterone are unbalanced fat will be stored and not burned. When we have an excess of these hormones and not enough testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) then we tend to store fat in our mid section.
Lack of sleep, overuse of caffeine and overexercising can also be causes for belly fat because of the increase of cortisol storing fat.
So now you know what causes it, what are your action steps to get rid of belly fat?
Diet- When changing up your diet you want to make sure that you focus on getting enough fiber, like green leafy vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbs. You don’t want to go too high or too low with the carbs because it just puts more stress on the body. When you are trying to control cortisol levels and stress on the body you want to make sure that you are balancing your carbohydrates throughout the day. It is also best to eat your carbs right after a workout when you are the most insulin sensitive.
Exercise- Exercising more and with higher intensity is not what is going to help you burn off your belly fat. In fact exercising too much may be doing the opposite and helping you to gain more weight. When we exercise we increase stress on our body releasing cortisol and therefore increasing belly fat. When we exercise to get rid of belly fat we want to make sure that we are doing short and effective workouts. Doing traditional weight training sessions 2-3 times a week will help to build muscle and burn fat. You will also want to do 3 restorative workouts a week to help lower cortisol levels. For example, Hatha yoga, tai chi, mediation, leisure walking.
Sleep is so important to help control cortisol levels and help with belly fat. Try to get in bed by 10pm and sleep until 6/7am or until the sun rises. Set up a sleep schedule and make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary to allow for optimal levels of sleep.
Heal your adrenals. Since your adrenals are responsible for giving off cortisol, the stress hormone, it is important to take care of them and heal them if you have been over-stressing your body for a long time. Incorporate all of the above; proper diet, don’t skip meals, balance exercise with leisure activities, and prioritize sleep will start to help you heal your adrenals. You may also want to take an herbal supplement adaptogen like Rhodiola and increase your levels of Vitamin D.
If you are struggling with increased belly fat and want to discuss a more personalized plan to help you lose weight while healing your adrenals and balancing your hormones clink this link to schedule a FREE 15 min discovery session.