Belly fat, that stubborn ring around your middle, seemingly creeps up out of nowhere and seems resistant to traditional diet and exercise. Some women will cut calories and may lose inches in other parts of their bodies – but that oh-so-stubborn belly fat remains. Other women report taking on targeted and challenging exercise routines and are able to sculpt shoulders, arms and legs beautifully – yet report no change in their midsection – which can be very frustrating. There is, however, a way to lose belly fat forever – with a tried and true approach.
Let’s start by understanding the causes of belly fat. Like most issues, it’s important to remember that there might be more than one issue contributing to your newfound apple shape.
The Most Common Causes of Belly Fat Are:
Adrenal Imbalance – when our adrenals are constantly being engaged due to chronic stress – cortisol and adrenaline are continually flooding our bodies – keeping us in a continued state of preparedness for ‘flight or fight’. When this happens, our bodies hold onto extra calories and our appetite can increase to help us refuel. These calories end up being stored as belly fat. Some women don’t even increase their calories and still end up with belly fat. Click here to take our Adrenal Health Quiz.
Insulin resistance – continued spikes and dips in blood sugar, along with high intake of sugars and carbohydrates, creates a scenario in which your cells no longer respond to insulin. Insulin resistance contributes to increased blood sugar and quick conversion of sugar to fat. The best place to store this fat? Your belly.
Imbalanced sex hormones – many women during their perimenopausal years will experience hormonal shifts as estrogen production slows. Our bodies are pretty amazing and complex – during times of hormone imbalances, our body favors belly fat because its programmed to preserve fertility as long as possible. Belly fat can actually produce estrogen! Its no surprise then that when estrogen production from the ovaries slows, the body compensates. Sex hormone imbalances are also negatively affected when cortisol and insulin are out of balance.
How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally
It may seem as though your bodies’ protective measures might just be working against you. I’ve successfully worked with thousands of women to lose belly fat – here’s the approach I recommend:
- Practice good stress management. This is different for everyone – it could mean asking for extra help, meditation, journaling, planning time every day for self care, asking for help, and even learning to say “no.” For some women, it could also mean connecting with friends every day, being outside for a few minutes everyday, or just breathing – deep breaths – several times a day. For other women, turning away from the constant flow of electronic information for a period of time every day is helpful. For others, talking with a medical or mental health professional might be helpful. Think about what would help keep your stress in check.
- Address your insulin resistance – its not too soon to start. I find that women who make dietary changes notice great changes in energy, clarity and a change in their belly fat faster. The first step is eat regularly – breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack and dinner. Keep your carbohydrate count to 16 grams at meals and 7 per snack. One third cup of rice or ½ sweet potato are great choices to accompany your meal. One-half of an apple with nut butter is a good, balanced snack. It is important to remember that carbs are good for you and shouldn’t be eliminated from your diet. The goal here is to lower carbohydrate intake for more stable blood sugar.
- Balance your hormones. For some women, dietary and lifestyle changes might make the difference. For others, the additional of a dietary supplement with herbs associated with hormone balancing such as black cohosh, chasteberry, red clover, wild yam and passionflower might be needed.
- Take a high quality multivitamin to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. It’s difficult in today’s world to get all the nutrients our bodies need from our daily food intake – and it’s even more difficult to close the gap when our bodies are out of balance. Consider adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, too. These supplements, along with a diet full of nutrient rich whole foods will help provide your body with the materials it needs to make and release hormones.
Don’t let belly fat get you down – there are solutions!