The 10 best tips to start combating belly fat

Hormones and the part they play in keeping you overweight

Some of the reasons why you may not be seeing results from training despite doing everything right?

I recently traveled abroad on holiday and while sitting in a café on a particularly hot day, I was taken aback by the amount of young men and women all with the same body shape. No buttocks to fill their trousers, but with a massively disproportionate, round, midsection (belly) and weak upper body and the older they got the bigger the problem. Unfortunately this is a very serious indicator that they are at significantly more risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Lets get this out of the way first, the main reasons for this type of body shape are typically a lack of exercise and a poor diet, but what if we said there is another contributing factor that can sometimes be overlooked!!

Our hormones.

There is nothing more disheartening than making the decision to change, putting in the hard work in the GYM and drastically changing your eating habits to reflect most experts advice only to see NO change in that one area we all want most, our abdomen (belly Fat). That pot belly has a tight grip and doesn’t want to shift.

Why does this happen when we are trying so hard to do everything right?

I’ll tell you, it’s too much processed food. It exposes our bodies to a particular hormone imbalance of estrogen called estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a group of natural steroid hormones which promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body. When these same hormones become dominant in the male body it can play host to all sorts of problems.

Men with these types of body shapes are more than likely experiencing estrogen dominance imbalances. This results in a whole other set of symptoms like the gaining of belly fat, depression, increased male breast tissue, or “man boobs” and possibly worst of all in some circumstances it can even cause erection difficulty, no one wants that.  Worse, recent research has suggested that too much estrogen in a man’s body puts them at a higher risk for developing prostate cancer as well.

Female estrogen dominance issues come from the same foods and products in their diet which cause similar concerning issues.

Another culprit in the battle against belly fat is a hormone called Cortisol.

You see, if your primary focus is only on calories, you will drop in body weight, but you won’t change the distribution of where the excess fat consumed is placed in the body.

So while we look at calories we also have to ensure we  address our hormone balance. Cortisol is a stress hormone; this is why the spare tyre is sometimes called a ‘stress belly’. It’s a catabolic hormone meaning it breaks down muscle mass and raises your fat storage. It’s the body’s stress response our “Fight or Flight”:

Cortisol is a necessary hormone in the body it’s designed to help you wake up in the morning and helps in times of emergencies allowing you to cope with danger. A spike in cortisol triggers the release of amino acids from the muscles, glucose from the liver, and fatty acids into the blood stream so the body can access a tremendous amount of energy Fast.

But the sad thing is, since modern life doesn’t give us much call to react to this surge by physically burning it up in intense physical activity, the elevated hormones continue to stimulate the release of even more stress hormones (like a leaking tap). We are usually found sitting at a desk, stressed over workload, eating a poor excuse of a lunch or in our car stressed because of slow moving traffic. Our sedentary lifestyle, triggers a cortisol jolt, our state of stress surges in a day already filled with stressful events.

The more stressed you are the less you’ll be effective at dropping excess abdominal fat

Here is the kicker….the three hormones that counteract the effect of cortisol in the body are growth hormone, testosterone, and DHEA. But if we are in an estrogen dominant state then this means there is a lack of it’s antagonist hormone testosterone, therefore cortisol also becomes dominant in the body….and we don’t drop our belly fat no matter how hard we train or diet. As you get older, it becomes even more difficult to win the fight against cortisol because our lives become more complicated and growth hormone and testosterone get reduced naturally as we age. As the body ages, cortisol production increases and coupled with low levels of DHEA, testosterone and estrogen, the loss of cartilage, bone and muscle tissue is accelerated.

So what can we do? How can we reduce cortisol and estrogen and their negative effects?

Simple changes can have the most positive effects

The 10 best tips to start combating belly fat

Cut down on your caffeine intake in your diet. It’s the quickest way to reduce cortisol production and elevate the production of DHEA, the leading anabolic youth hormone. One mug of coffee increases blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour! Cortisol can remain elevated for up to 18 hours in the blood. This is the easiest step to decrease your catabolic metabolism (going against the body and storing fat)and increase your anabolic metabolism (building muscle, burning fat).

Make sure you get a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night. Sleep is the most anabolic state we can put our bodies in. It is when our bodies have time to repair.

Avoid foods that contribute to elevated stress. This means eating less processed foods, anything that comes in a box. Eat less sugar; growth hormone cannot do its job when there is too much insulin present in the body. Therefore, try to avoid to many simple carbohydrates sugars and chemicals, E numbers. In other words try eating better cleaner foods, foods that do not require bar codes.

Eat protein like red meat, white meat, eggs, fish. Growth hormone is produced from good sources of protein.

Eat as much and as many different varieties of Vegetables as you can, the darker the green the better.

Start a weight training program – focus on compound lifts, lifts that focus on the larger muscle groups. These lifts will boost growth hormone in the body while long endurance based cardio sessions (jogging) on the other hand will only result in reducing testosterone levels.

Make sure you consume sufficient amounts of saturated fats and Omega-3 and 9 fats. These two types of fat will raise DHEA and testosterone, most people don’t realize that poly-unsaturated fats (from seeds, nuts, linseed, some fish and all those butter substitute spreads) will lower testosterone. Also stay away from Soy based product and Soy sauce which also drop testosterone.

Learn how to meditate, it’s a fantastic way of slowing the body down and helping it relax, For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. – a few of the benefits are

  • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
  • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • More efficient oxygen use by the body
  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Restful sleep

Lastly reduce the alcohol intake. The beer belly says it all really.

Keith Richardson

Keith Richardson

Founder, Storm Body Fitness

YOUR TURN

Thanks for reading and as always if you have any questions or if you’d like to post your own list or even if you disagree with the above by all means, I’d love to hear your comments or thoughts.

-Keith, Storm body Fitness

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