Belly fat is a tricky one for many of us to target. We do the exercise and follow the diet but nothing seems to budge.
Newsflash: It's not your fault this stubborn fat won't shift with exercise and dieting. The fact is, fat stored in this area is often caused by an imbalance of hormones in the body, especially an increase in cortisol or, more precisely, our chronic exposure to it.
If we can take steps to reduce the impact of stress on our body and build its resilience we often have a far more effective method for reducing stomach fat than slashing calories and spending hours on the treadmill.
I also find adjusting the type of exercise and correcting common movements in people really effective in activating and engaging this area which in turn improves tone and condition.
So, what are some bang for your buck tips to reduce cortisol, adjust your exercise and start shifting that stubborn belly-fat?
1. Green tea
Add green tea to your daily nutrition regime. As well as a whole load of benefits such as detoxification, helping to reduce blood pressure and fat burning effects, drinking green tea can help reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Aim for four to six cups per day for this to be effective. It can be a challenge to drink hot so I like to make mine the night before and chill it down to use as a base for a smoothie the next day instead of plain water or milks.
Yerba Mate Tea is a particularly effective green tea available from health food stores and touted as anti-inflammatory as well as anti-obesity.
2. Set water goals
Drinking water is super effective for fat loss, particular that which sits around your stomach. This is because it hydrates you and is required for many metabolic processes in the body. Dehydration is actually a significant contributor to increased stress levels in the body, so avoiding this is paramount in managing stress.
Start your day with 250mls on waking. Many of us are dehydrated when we wake up so replenishment at this time is great. Set yourself a target with points throughout the day, perhaps 500mls by 10am and another 500mls by 2pm. Breaking it into small portions spread throughout the day makes it easier to manage and helps keep us on track.
3. Change up that workout
Try changing up your exercise choice for some short and intense options to help strip belly fat and keep that stress hormone under control.
Research has shown 16 to 20 minutes of interval activity on a bike very effective for targeting stubborn belly fat. Aim for eight seconds of all out sprinting followed by 12 seconds of very slow pedalling. Repeat this for 16 minutes. Trust me, it's tough and you will be sweating but it is well worth it and very time-efficient for those of us with busy schedules.
4. Switch on your core
Turning on your abdominals and core in the morning can help activate and engage this area. In turn, this will tighten and tone your stomach. Often our posture influences our body shape so making small adjustments can go a long way to improving this area.
Try lying on your back with your feet out straight and your hands on your lower abdominals, just under the belly button. Give a little cough and you will feel the muscles under your hands activate - these are what we want to target. Try pulsing these muscles on and off for 20-30 repetitions without any movement in your chest or upper stomach. Try this every day for 10 days and feel the difference.