1. Cut out food intolerances
Food intolerances such as wheat, dairy & soya can lead to inflammation in the body, which in turn can cause hormonal imbalances, specifically elevated insulin and cortisol levels, which causes inflammation and affects the body’s ability to metabolise fat, especially around the middle. Food intolerances can also cause water retention & gut imbalances which also signal the body to hold on to excess fat.
2. Balance your adrenal glands (cortisol levels)
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Elevated cortisol levels can often result due to excessive stresses in your life; such as mental or physical stress, bad diet, lack of sleep, over-exertion, excess caffeine, sugar & alcohol or lack of food. This excess cortisol can lead to the conversion of excess fat around the middle, as the body thinks in times of stress it is going to need to store this fat to be converted when needed by the liver for extra energy.
Millions of years ago, our bodies were designed to react quickly to danger. As hunter gatherers we were on constant alert so we could fight or flight if threatened. This perceived danger stimulates the release of adrenaline and cortisol.
These days, many of us live under chronic stress, however our bodies cannot distinguish between chronic and life-threatening stress. So it reacts exactly the same. The problem with many modern lifestyles is that stress is almost continuous.
After a stressful event cortisol levels in the blood can remain high increasing your appetite and creating cravings for foods high in sugar & fat, as it thinks these will be most useful after all that ‘activity’. If you don’t fight or flee the fat and glucose in your system are deposited as fat – around your middle.
Also check out these 10 unexpected ways to lose belly fat and these 8 brilliant tips on how to lose belly fat naturally
3. Balance blood sugar (insulin levels)
Increasing protein with every meal slows the rate the stomach processes food, especially carbohydrates. Protein helps to control the release of insulin also helping to balance blood sugar. Protein also works to increase blood glucose by encouraging the body to burn fat for energy, thus helping to lose weight.
If you eat too many carbohydrates in times of stress and you don’t need that energy, the default mechanism is to store the glucose as fat. If this stress continues cortisol levels remain high, then the body triggers the breakdown of sugar stores in the liver to provide more glucose. The body produces more insulin to deal with the extra glucose.
Over time the body cannot respond to insulin the same way it used to. You become insulin resistant & retain even more fat as more and more glucose is stored as fat!
Avoid any foods that make blood sugar spike quickly. When the blood sugar drops again your body releases adrenaline and cortisol to stabilise it, leading to fat storage.
Avoid missing breakfast. Your body sees this as starvation and hangs on to fat in case it does not get fed for a considerable amount of time. Keep your blood sugar levels stable by eating every three hours.
4. Drink more water to prevent water retention
If you are trying to lose a pound of fat from around your waist, it can be obscured on the scales by an extra pound of water that your body is holding on to, making this very frustrating as you feel as though all your hard work that week has not paid off. Daily fluctuations in the amount of water you drink, sodium you eat, or being calorie deficient are responsible for the majority of the water you retain.
A major reason for this is that these both raise cortisol levels, which in turn increases fluid retention. Based on this theory it is a good idea to increase water and reduce sodium (refined salt) & balance cortisol levels, as this can lead to retaining water (see above for ways to balance cortisol).
5. Eat more of the good fats
Due to many people being on low fat diets to “lose weight” means they are consuming less saturated fat, but means they are normally deficient in the good fats – essential fatty acids. You can only get these essential fatty acids from your diet as your body cannot manufacture them. Omega 3 fatty acids in particular are good at metabolising the bad fat in the body, thus helping to lose weight.
Essential fats are so important in controlling weight gain (especially around the middle) due to the following reasons:
– They slow down the rate of carbohydrates.
– They increase your metabolism
– They reduce insulin resistance
– They minimise inflammation
Article written by Claire Ward.