Losing Belly Fat Isn’t Just About Diet & Exercise!


LOSING BELLY FAT ISN'T JUST ABOUT DIET AND EXERCISE!
Ready to hear something that just might blow your mind? Diet and exercise, although VERY important, are not the only factors to weight loss, especially fat loss in the stomach area! If you’ve ever felt like you have hit a weight loss plateau, or that the rest of your body is toning up but your waistline just won’t budge, there is something else to consider: hormones! There are many different hormones in our body that affect how each of us burns and stores fat in the stomach area. But basically it boils down to two major hormones: cortisol and insulin. 

Let’s pause about the hormones for a second and talk about fat. There are two types of belly fat: visceral and subcutaneous fat. The visceral fat is deep inside, surrounding our organs. This fat cannot be seen by the eye or pinched. On the other hand, subcutaneous belly fat is what you can pinch at your waistline and is often nicknamed a “muffin top”. The good news is that visceral (deep inside) belly fat recieves a lot of blood supply, is rich in beta-receptors, is more responsive to cortisol, and is less sensitive to insulin. Those are bunch of fancy scientific words basically saying that visceral fat is hard to store and easy to burn, thus can more easily be managed by exercise and diet. 

However, our subcutaneous belly fat is a different story. It has more alpha hormone receptors, meaning that it is less responsive to fat-burning hormones. It also is far more insulin sensitive and less reactive to cortisol. In a nutshell: subcutaneous fat is easier for our body to store and harder to burn and get rid of. This is where healthy hormone levels come in!

Hormones, specifically cortisol and insulin are responsible for the storage and release of fat cells, especially in that pinchable subcutaneous belly fat. Simply put, if these hormones are out of whack, they cannot do their jobs correctly. What effects these hormones? You can think of cortisol as the “sleep and stress” hormone and insulin as the “starch and sugar” hormone.

It is a known but often overlooked fact that we all NEED 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Even slight sleep deprivation can cause a stress response in the body, which alters cortisol levels. Other stresses such as work, relationships, and physical stress (ie. over-exercising, posture) can also alter cortisol levels. Thus, it is very important for each of us to manage our stress in order to shrink that waistline. This could be a nice long walk, a restorative yoga session, massages, spa treatments, meditation, laughing, reading, or any other activity you find relaxing. Eliminating stress and increasing sleep are the keys to keeping your cortisol levels in check, and therefore promoting belly fat loss.

The other main hormone, insulin, is more affected by how many starches and sugars you consume. Foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates can cause your insulin levels to spike (bad news for the subcutaneous fat!). However, consuming more complex starches (brown rice, quinoa, and other foods with a low glycemic load) has the opposite effect and actually helps maintain a stable, healthy insulin level.

Phew that was a lot of information! Take some time to understand it. If you would like to read the entire article, and learn a bit more about the science behind burning subcutaneous and visceral stomach fat, check it out here!

Now get some sleep and de-stress! See below for one of many de-stressing ideas.

– Coach Amanda

Why Cardio Intervals are so Dang Effective: A MUST READ

Intervals are BY FAR the most efficient way to do your cardiovascular workout. These are the reasons why intervals kick long, constant-cardio workouts in the butt:

  1. Your metabolism will sky-rocket! It will stay elevated post workout for so much longer than if you just jogged at one level pace. This is due to EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). To the average person: all this means is that you will continue burning calories at an elevated rate even as you are sitting on your booty throughout the rest of the day!! Wahooo! (Note – weight training + cardio intervals has an even higher EPOC :))
  2. You put your body into neuromuscular confusion – a state where the body doesn’t know what is coming next and must “re-boot and re-assess the neuromuscular patterns of your body every time you change speed, rather than allowing the body to find a calm state of homeostasis. This challenges your body so much more! Think about how much easier a math test would be if it was the same question 20 times vs having a test with 20 different questions… same thing with your muscles and body!!
  3. The periods of high-intensity followed by rest allow you to reach higher thresholds of your VO2max (Think about this being your maximum effort level possible).
  4. You burn way more calories in a shorter amount of time!! (Due to reason #2 and #3)
  5. It is great for your heart!! You receive the same (or more!) cardiovascular benefits when only doing 20 minutes of intervals as you do 45 minutes of a constant jog!! Talk about efficient! 🙂

Bottom line: Intervals are effective, a great calorie burn, and can be done when you are short on time. Long runs are great too, but this is just another tool to add to your repertoire. Intervals can be done on any cardiovascular machine (treadmill, row machine, elliptical, bike, etc) and even done outside via hills or just changing your pace as you run.

Try THIS for an example of an interval workout, enjoy!

Be Happy. Be Fit.