Struggling with excess weight on your tummy? You are not alone.
There are a huge number of people who are battling the bulge and not getting anywhere.
It could be that your stress levels are too high for the body to handle effectively.
Fat tissue accumulating on the stomach can be a result of chronic exposure to stress.
This area on the body has the most scientific research behind it and is a reflection of long-term cortisol (stress hormone) output.
It indicates both how much cortisol is produced in relation to stress, as well as how well how a person is dealing with their stress.
So don't despair if you have been cutting calories, or upping your workouts at the gym with poor results. You may benefit from introducing some of these tips to help combat underlying stress.
Tips to try:
Increasing your fresh food intake can help decrease the stress on your body.
It can be a challenge to always eat fresh so aim for three or four days a week where this is your goal and relax a little about the other days.
It's not about being prefect, but introducing sustainable habits.
2. Make sure you are getting to sleep by 10pm.
Much of your physical recovery occurs between 10.30pm and 2am while your mental/cognitive recovery occurs between 2am and 6am. Missing any of this can inhibit the reduction of cortisol.
Easier said than done for many of us, but start by ensuring your bedroom is as dark as you can make it, minimise blue light or screen time before bed and try a gratitude journal to help slow a busy mind.
3. Increase water intake to 37-39mls per kg of body weight.
Dehydration can cause additional, unnecessary stress on the body and can occur in as little as two hours.
Increasing your water intake is one of the most important factors in reducing cortisol levels and one of the easiest.
I like my clients to wake up and start their day with a glass of water to help combat stress levels.
4. Minimise steady-state cardio
Now this is a bit of a challenge for some people out there, but it's a great idea to minimise or avoid long, steady-state cardio options as this can increase cortisol production.
Try instead short, sharp cardio sessions such as a bout of boxing, some hill sprints, or a cycling class.
5. Minimise exercise first thing in the morning
Exercising on an empty stomach can increase cortisol production in the body.
Either amend your exercise time or take a moment to have some food before exercising, such as a herbal tea with coconut oil, a handful of raw nuts, or a fish oil supplement.
6. Avoid drinking coffee or energy drinks after exercising as this can inhibit recovery and increase stress.
7. Consider taking vitamin C after exercise
This will help recovery and speed up the clearing of post exercise cortisol.
Take between 2-10g of a good quality vitamin C.
8. Consider taking a magnesium supplement
Stress can leach magnesium stores from the body leaving a person feeling anxious, wired and unable to relax.
Note that taking a magnesium supplement can "wire" a person initially if they are severely depleted, so start slowly.
Ensure you are taking an adequate dose and allow three to four days before noticing the effects.