Gaining weight is always a frustrating thing — but it can be even more difficult when you find yourself putting on those extra pounds on your belly. Not only is it more unsightly, it is also worse for your health: the more weight you carry on your tummy, the more likely you are to also have fat deposits built up around organs like your liver that could eventually lead to disease.
When you are trying to lose abdominal fat, calories are not the only thing to think about: learning how to keep your hormones in balance is vital as well. These hormones communicate with the cells in your body to either make it easier — or harder — to lose that belly fat.
Let’s take a look at four of the most important hormones to think about when you are try to trim down your tummy.
Hormone helps to regulate body fat
The hormone Adiponectin is produced by the fat cells but helps your body regulate body fat. Raised levels of this hormone make it easier to lose weight.
Hormone affects your eagerness for eating
The hormone Leptin is also made by your fat cells and is important because it sends signals to your brain that you are full and can stop eating. If you are not sensitive to this hormone, however, you are more likely to overeat.
The other hormone Cortisol is produced by the adrenal cortex, a gland that sits atop your kidneys, and is brought on by stress. Raised cortisol levels also signal to the body that it needs to pack on abdominal fat.
Hormone helps to regulate the sugar level in your body
The hormone Insulin is made in your pancreas and it is the most important one to consider when it comes to losing belly fat! This “master hormone” regulates how glucose (sugar) in used throughout the body. Fat cells are resistant to insulin and as you put on more weight, this insulin resistance grows. Increased insulin resistance will, in turn, increase the levels of insulin that your body needs to function. And these high insulin levels signal make it more likely that you will pack on more weight, especially in the area of your tummy.
Sound complicated? No worries! With simple lifestyle changes, you can help to balance these hormones in such a way that it becomes easier to lose belly fat!
1. Watch What You Drink
Watching your diet isn’t just about what you eat — what you drink is just as important. Beverages with a lot of high fructose corn syrup in them (such as sodas) can raise levels of leptin and insulin in the body, while caffeinated beverages can raise levels of cortisol. Higher levels of these hormones signals to your body that it’s time to pack on weight.
2. Add Greens, Seeds and Proteins to Your Diet!
There are certain foods you can add to your diet so that losing belly weight will be easier. These foods include:
- A green called purslane, which can be cut up fresh into salads and which is a rich source of both omega three fatty acids (which reduce inflammation naturally) and melatonin (which can help you sleep better and reduce cortisol levels naturally)
- High-quality proteins — such as from fatty fish, pastured or wild meats and legumes — that can help decrease inflammation and increase your sensitivity to leptin.
- Pistachios and pumpkin seeds. These healthy little snacks help to raise the levels of adiponectin, which makes it easier for you to burn fat. They are also fiber-rich and help stave off hunger pains when you are dieting.
3. Cut Fructose, Gluten and Dairy
There are also some foods which you should be avoiding in order to balance those hormones and lose that fat. Some of the main culprits are:
- Foods which contain high fructose corn syrup or are naturally high in fructose (like dried apricots). Fruictose increases insulin and leptin levels.
- Gluten and dairy products can also be cut from the diet to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance.
4. Do High Intensity Exercise
While cardiovascular exercises such as running or bicycling have many definite benefits, they are not always so great when what you are aiming for is a tinier tummy. That is because these long workout can actually increase your cortisol levels. Brief, intense exercise lasting just a few minutes and broken up by periods of rest seem to work better for stimulating the body to burn fat.
5. Sleep it Off!
Sleep deprivation, like cardiovascular exercise, can also raise levels of cortisol and, like the cardiovascular exercise, can actually make it harder to shed that tummy fat. It is best to try to get between 7 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night if you are to avoid this stressor.
6. Manage Your Stress
It is not just the physical stress of exercise or sleep deprivation that’s that problem: emotional stress can also raise your cortisol levels. Learn to control this stress with a variety of “still” or “calming” activities that you can practice on your own or with friends and that will help you to tamp down on any feelings of worry or anxiety you might be feeling. Yoga, meditation, prayer, tai chi and breathing exercises are all great for this!
7. Consider Supplements
Some supplements appear to have a beneficial affect on balancing out your hormones — and fortunately, they are an easy thing to add to your everyday life. Zinc and magnesium, in particular, are supplements which can regulate your hormone levels. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting this or any supplement, however.
8. Do a Fast
A fast doesn’t have to last all day long in order for you to gain benefits from it. Even one that lasts as little as 18 hours can help women re-adjust to the body’s metabolic clocks and gives it a little boost, making it easier to burn fat as well. When you are fasting, however, be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and also try to rest to avoid stressing your body.
This might seem like a lot to remember, but if you can manage to incorporate the tips above into your dieting strategy instead of just counting calories, you will probably find it easier to begin shedding weight from that all-important abdominal area, just because you took the time to balance out your hormones.