If you’re doing all the things, and still not losing weight, then chances are, there’s a missing piece to the weight loss puzzle. Want in on what the number one reason many people struggle to lose stubborn belly fat? We’re talking stress and belly fat. The two are super connected, and the more stressed we are, the harder it is to lose the weight we hold onto in our midsection.
But, we have answers and hacks to help you bust stress and bust fat. Let’s take a look at why stress causes belly fat and what exactly you can do about it.
What the Science Says About Why Stress Causes Belly Fat
Let’s talk stress and belly fat, and why it actually happens. It all has to do with cortisol. The stress hormone we all love to hate. The truth about cortisol is that we actually need it. Cortisol plays an important role in regulating our metabolism and supporting blood sugar. But, the problem is that it can easily get out of balance, especially with the way the world is today.
Many of us are wired and downright exhausted and chronically stressed. Chronic stress can put us into a state of fight-or-flight where we are releasing far too much cortisol. Cortisol during times of stress suppresses the digestive system, and alters our immune response in order to deal with the apparent “threat” at hand. The problem here is that with chronic stress, our bodies have a hard time getting out of that fight-or-flight state.
And, as if that wasn’t a downer enough, too much stress and too much cortisol can lead to belly fat that’s downright hard to get rid of. Yale University did a study that found that stress and cortisol play such a big role in belly fat, that even non-overweight women were likely to have excess abdominal fat, plus higher levels of cortisol.
It’s a double whammy because both stress and cortisol can lead to that stubborn belly fat. Cortisol is notoriously known for causing that midsection fat none of us want.
So, what’s the solution? Reduce that stress, girl!
5 Steps to Reduce Stress and Belly Fat
Yeah, yeah. We know if only reducing our stress was that easy, right? Stress is an inevitable part of life. We cannot escape every single source of stress. But, we can change how we react to it.
And, since stress and belly fat are so connected, let’s take the steps needed to reduce stress and lose that stubborn belly fat once and for all.
Here’s a five-step approach to reducing stress and belly fat all at the same time.
#1 Get Your Cardio Fix In:
Cardio lovers, you’re in luck. Getting your cardio fix can help reduce stress and burn belly fat (win, win.) The ADAA has even stated just how powerful regular exercise can be for mental health. With regular exercise (like cardio) comes a boost in endorphins. You know, those feel-good chemicals that help us feel ah-mazing after a good run. Plus, cardio is a great way to burn some extra fat, helping us lose belly fat and feel our best.
The key here is to focus on getting your cardio fix in the morning. Running or doing any type of strenuous exercise later in the day, may give you an energy boost, and make it difficult for you to get to sleep.
Focus on getting your cardio in early and aim for a cardio workout about three times per week for 30 minutes at a time. And spice it up every now and then. Hop on the treadmill one day, get on the bike the next, and do a brisk walk outside on a nice day. Variety is the spice of life, so switch up your cardio routine for optimal results.
#2 Adaptogenic Mood-Boosting Supplements:
Adaptogens are the bomb when it comes to helping our bodies adapt and cope with stress. And, with better stress reduction, comes a better chance of weight loss (especially in the midsection).
Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and holy basil can help calm that fight-or-flight response many of us are stuck in, and bring our cortisol levels back in balance. Remember that excess cortisol can lead to belly fat, so we want to focus on getting cortisol balanced.
If you’re looking for a mood-boosting all-natural supplement option to help balance cortisol levels, adaptogens may do just the trick.
#3 Get Zen With Meditation:
Doing some meditation on the reg is going to help calm the sympathetic nervous system, helping to bring us out of that state of fight-or-flight. This is key to bringing cortisol levels back in balance, so get some meditation into your day-to-day life. Try doing at least five minutes of meditation daily, working your way up to ten minutes each day.
You can also try practicing regular mindfulness to help calm your thoughts during times of total chaos. And mindfulness can also serve as a tool to help you drop the junk food habit, which you can learn more about here.
#4 Get Enough Sleep:
Sleep is super-duper important, and it’s even more important for weight loss than you may think. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to cause food cravings, and studies have shown a lack of sleep to cause your hormones to go haywire. It’s a double whammy when it comes to weight gain and belly fat.
Ready to improve your sleep habits to help reduce stress and lose belly fat? Here are seven hacks for a better night’s sleep you can implement into your evening routine asap.
#5 Find Time For Things You Enjoy:
Bringing more joy into your life is key to overall health and happiness. So, it only makes sense that doing what makes you happy could help reduce cortisol levels and thus help you lose belly fat.
Find time each day to do one thing you love, and pencil some sort of pampering into your calendar to do each month. And don’t forget about social interaction. Spending time with your girlfriends or family can be a very therapeutic way to reduce your overall stress levels and bring cortisol down.
Reduce Stress, Bust Belly Fat
So, there you have it. The number one reason so many of us struggle to lose that belly fat. It all comes down to stress and excess cortisol. The good news? While stress and belly fat go hand in hand, using this five-step approach to reducing your stress can give your body what it needs to finally calm that fight-or-flight response down and get cortisol levels in check, making fat loss possible.