Belly fat is undesirable and unwanted. Not only does it make you look fat, but it also gives you a negative and bad self-image. And let’s not forget, it’s also an indicator of an unhealthy body fueled by chronic stress, which leads to spikes in cortisol levels. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream and is a major reason for weight gain and abdominal fat accumulation.
When stress levels remain high, they produce cortisol for long periods of time, causing unhealthy and dangerous changes in your body. “Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is produced by the adrenal glands, which are located above both kidneys. High levels of stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, poor dietary habits and an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to elevated levels of cortisol in the body. This leads to under-utilization of glucose, which comes in the form of belly fat,” says Aman Puri, founder and nutritionist of Steadfast Nutrition.
However, you can control unwanted belly fat by taking steps to reduce stress. Here are some ways you can manage your stress
Use the -ing formula
The -ing formula refers to finding some me time and relaxing and doing things that make you feel peaceful and content, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
While most of us have forgotten the comfort of pausing and breathing in this fast-paced world, breathing exercises remain the most effective and efficient way to manage stress. “It helps reverse your stress response by reducing the damaging effects of stress on your physical, physiological and emotional health,” says Lavleen Kaur, Head Dietitian & Founder, Diet Insight, Nutrition and Wellness Clinic.
Daily exercise will help you reduce visceral fat. It’s okay to skip a day every now and then, but try to get more exercise throughout the day. Workouts of 45-60 minutes are ideal, try moderate-intensity exercise and strength training. Once you’ve mastered stress management, you can use interval training and heavy-duty exercise each week to help you lose belly fat. “In addition to scheduled workouts, it’s important that you maintain an active lifestyle. Don’t sit for a long time without getting up. Getting up every hour to stretch and exercise your body can simply boost your metabolism. You can also increase your normal activity level by taking a 10-minute walk after each meal every day,” Kaur adds.
Reading can be a fantastic and healthy way to unwind from everyday stress. Immerse yourself in a literary universe by simply opening a book that will take your mind off your everyday stressors. Reading works to solve the root cause of unwanted belly fat by lowering your heart rate and calming your body and relieving muscle tension.
Laughter is the best medicine. It boosts your immune system, improves your mood, relieves pain and protects you from the negative effects of stress. “A hearty laugh relieves excessive muscle tension for up to 45 minutes by lowering levels of stress chemicals like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and growth hormone,” notes Kaur.
A healthy diet
Elevated cortisol levels can lead to overeating. “The best way to prevent this situation is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and plan meals to avoid eating unhealthy junk foods. Try to eat small, healthy meals every three to four hours to keep your cortisol levels from skyrocketing due to starvation,” notes Puri. Include proteins with a high biological value in your diet such as chicken, fish, eggs, seasonal green vegetables, local and seasonal fruits, healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish. Drink at least 3-4 liters of water and complex carbohydrates from whole grains, millet, legumes and oats each day to help control your appetite.
To sleep well
A lack of adequate sleep at night can also increase the body’s cortisol levels, which can lower insulin sensitivity, leading to uncontrolled cravings the next day. Therefore, one needs to correct their sleep pattern. Put devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptops aside at least an hour before bed, as they emit blue light, which suppresses production of the sleep hormone melatonin. For a night of improved sleep, reduce your caffeine intake throughout the day (no more than 2 cups per day) and avoid caffeinated beverages at least 3 hours before bedtime for a sound night’s sleep.
goodness of herbs
Herbs and spices can also help lower cortisol and the resulting weight gain. Cinnamon improves metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Ashwagandha is an excellent herb for reducing anxiety and stress that helps keep cortisol in check. Vitamin C is a crucial micronutrient that helps manage stress by regulating cortisol levels. Include vitamin C-rich foods like amla, lemon, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and others in your diet to keep inflammation and cortisol in check.
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