I’m sure a lot of you have heard that “you can’t spot reduce areas, you must lose weight overall”. While the statement is partially true (you can’t naturally choose where you lose fat from) – carrying extra fat specifically around your abdomen is a key indicator of a hormonal imbalance.
Aesthetics aside, Visceral fat (commonly known as belly fat) can actually be detrimental to your health as these fat cells can actually change how your body operates by producing hormone-disrupting and inflammatory reactions.
It could an imbalance of estrogen, testosterone or DHEA – but two of the most common imbalances are due to chronically elevated levels of insulin and cortisol.
The main function of insulin (commonly known as fat storing hormone) is to process sugar in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as energy or to be stored as fat.
Basically when insulin levels are up, glucagon and growth hormone are suppressed. Glucagon promotes the burning of fat and sugar and GH hormone promotes growth and repair of essentially all bodily tissues.
With chronically high blood glucose levels (with cells not responding to the signals of insulin, leading to cells that are starved of glucose) – this can allow cortisol to stimulate specific stress responses within the body (from hunger signals to signals to store body fat).
To lose excess belly fat, you can incorporate specific dietary, exercise and lifestyle techniques that can keep your insulin levels at bay and reduce high cortisol levels (both when chronically elevated, lead to excess belly fat).
How can you reduce your belly fat?
1. Use nutrient timing principals and have your starchy carbohydrates post workout. This will allow you to reap the benefits of insulin and partition the carbohydrates into your muscles vs. your fat cells.
2. Control your sugar intake! Sugar should be minimized, and if consumed – I recommend consuming it with a low GI food to minimize the insulin spike.
3. Focus the rest of your meals around protein, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables. Making sure these meals are rich in micronutrients will also help your body burn calories more efficiently, regulate appetite, lower inflammation, aid digestion, and allow your cells to be in an optimal environment to become more insulin sensitive.
4. Exercise! Being more active allows your body to become more insulin sensitive, meaning it will need less insulin to burn carbohydrates and fats when you eat.
5. De-stress! Chronically high cortisol levels (stress hormone) contribute to the stubborn belly fat.