Belly fat accumulation is a primary concern for many people. It’s linked to type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, and even cancer. Belly fat accumulation affects the secretion of growth hormones and thyroid hormones, both important for health.
When we lose belly fat, we improve the secretion of these hormones that require an efficient metabolism to create them.
To reduce abdominal fat you may need to reset the hormones which can cause stubborn belly fat: leptin, cortisol, insulin, adiponectin and growth hormone. Accumulation of belly fat can reduce the natural growth hormone secretion, in such cases, a doctor may prescribe a treatment that will improve your body composition. And is just one of the many benefits of growth hormone that you’ll experience, including muscle repair and growth, mental health, immune function, and wound healing.
How to lose belly fat?
The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Losing belly fat takes more than just diet and exercise, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Here’s what I tell my patients who want to lose belly fat:
Increase your metabolic rate with glycogen and glucose
A high-glycemic-index carbohydrate stimulates insulin secretion, which in turn triggers glucose uptake by the muscles.
Insulin also inhibits cortisol production in the adrenal glands. That’s why insulin is considered the “anti-stress” hormone when it comes to increasing muscle mass. My favorite high glycemic index carbs are white potatoes, yams, plantains, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and carrots.
The gut is a significant source of inflammation in the body which can result from increased cortisol production. Thus it’s essential to improve gut health to optimize weight loss. Foods that promote bowel movements include beets, artichokes, berries, oranges, lemons, apples, pears, plums, broccoli, garlic, turmeric, ginger root, fennel seed, cruciferous veggies (kale), celery juice, lemonade diet, yogurt with live cultures.
Eat more foods high in Vitamin D3
Vitamin D helps reduce cortisol production when it is low in the body. You can increase your levels by getting more sun or even just going outside for a walk. If that is not possible, foods containing Vitamin D3 include fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs from free-range chickens, mushrooms exposed to UV light, and cod liver oil.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle. Thus it’s crucial to avoid the cortisol response as much as possible, especially if you are trying to cut or bulk. Cortisol can be kept in check by avoiding late-night eating. Exercise also helps keep cortisol low because it triggers the release of endorphins which induces relaxation and makes us feel good. Yoga, meditation, deep breathing are all.
Improve gut health with fermented foods
Fermented foods produce short-chain fatty acids that help balance the good/harmful bacteria ratio in the gut, improving digestion. These include sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha tea (fermented black tea), kefir (a fermented drink made from milk), yogurt with live cultures, and miso soup.
Eat more organic food
Organic food is free of pesticides that may alter cortisol levels or damage thyroid function. Organic meat also has higher omega 3s, which are needed for improved brain health and weight loss. A study found that overweight adults who switched to an organic diet lost about seven pounds over six months without changing their exercise routines or calorie intake.
Avoid foods high in the mold
Mold contains mycotoxins, which are inflammatory and linked to insulin resistance, leading to weight gain. They are also responsible for the so-called “cheese effect”, which causes bloating, particularly after eating cheese or drinking milk.
Foods that are contaminated with mycotoxins include corn, peanuts, cottonseed meal, coffee beans, barley, oats, rye/wheat mix (bulgur), sugar cane, dried fruits (figs and prunes), grapes.
Eat more fruit
Fruit is full of antioxidants that help reduce cortisol release while providing essential minerals like potassium that help balance sugar levels. Some great choices include pineapple, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and oranges.
Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose were initially developed as pesticides, but they ended up in our food! They prevent sugar from activating the “I’m full” signal that tells us to stop eating. This can lead to over-eating and weight gain, which is a recipe for increased cortisol production.
Improve your sleep quality
Cortisol levels rise when we are tired because we spend less time repairing muscle tissue and more time burning calories during digestion instead of turning them into lean muscle mass. One study found that people who got eight hours of sleep every night gained six pounds over six years compared to people who got only five hours of sleep.
Get enough magnesium
Magnesium is needed for hundreds of enzymes in the body, including those that produce energy, reduce blood sugar levels and synthesize protein. Studies have found that women are particularly likely to be deficient in magnesium because they excrete more than men due to menstrual cycle regulation.
Magnesium deficiency may be responsible for increased cortisol levels because it inhibits tryptophan production, which leads to serotonin synthesis in the brain. Good sources include leafy green vegetables, buckwheat, cornmeal, oatmeal, soybeans/edamame, brown rice, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds.