Belly fat that jiggles, the stubborn last remains but yet your diet is on point, and your fitness levels are good. Your body is starting to reward you for all your effort but still taunts you with the last stubborn bits!
You have adopted lots of healthy eating habits and integrated them into your lifestyle and can see the changes, and you are liking the results that you are not only seeing but also feeling. However, the stubborn pockets of fat stuck in your stomach are starting to get you down and playing with your mind and your self-sabotage button.
Believe it or not, this stubborn patch could be down to your stress levels.
Our abdominal fat area is very different to other areas of fat on our body for a few reasons. One of the reasons is that this area of your body houses FOUR TIMES MORE receptors for the stress hormone Cortisol than ANY other part of your body.
This hormone is a muscle wasting one and literally will put a stop to any fat loss potential. (It will utilise and eat muscle mass before fat)
So where does Cortisol come from?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, one of the glucocorticoids, made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood, which transports it all around the body.
Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and helping the development of the foetus.
Cortisol is naturally produced by the adrenal glands (located by the Kidneys).
There are some good reasons for having this hormone in our body.
For example, it is important for processes when it comes to our heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline release. We will even produce Cortisol when we work out as we naturally stress the body.
However, Cortisol can also be produced when we are stressed or anxious, and this is exactly the type of release which we would like to avoid or at least keep to a minimum. It has been said that for 5 minutes of anxiety or stress that we feel, the effect on our central nervous system can be for 3 weeks after the event.
Scientific studies published have shown that males with higher levels of cortisol had greater abdominal fat deposits. While other studies have shown that in women with elevated cortisol/stress levels ate more calories, a greater amount of sweets and had a tendency to binge on foods.
So when it comes to excess Cortisol we all need to chill out!
Our top tips to help you chill are:
- Meditate and chill out! Reduce your stress levels by calming your mind. Guided ones are really good for this.
- Get some rest!! Make sure you get a good 6-8 hours sleep a night.
- Breath – use your breath to calm yourself -take 10 nice deep breaths when you feel you are getting stressed and ground yourself.
- Get back to nature – go for a long walk and do some mindful meditation as you walk looking at natures wonders.
- TALK! talk it out! A problem shared is a problem halved
And remember – when you get stressed – it’s NEVER as bad as it seems.