Belly fat is a major concern for women. It’s distressing not because we want to have six-pack abs, but because we want to feel good in our clothes, and in our bodies. And we don’t want to have to wear “mom jeans” to cover up the bulge.
Belly fat is persistent for many reasons. Even when we amp up the exercise routine and limit our calories, it won’t budge. That’s why it’s time to revise the way you think about belly fat and take a look at the physiology that makes you prone to maintaining extra padding around the middle.
Once you understand the biology of stubborn belly fat, simple targeted changes can help it melt away. Since belly fat has been linked to health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the health benefits of losing belly fat go way beyond having a trim waistline.
What's causing your belly fat?
There are four common physiologic causes of stubborn belly fat. All are imbalances that result in extra padding around the belly — though for good reason. Once your specific physiologic block is removed your body will able to release the extra weight.
Insulin resistance. If you’ve been eating a high-carb diet, including moderate-to-high amounts of sugar and alcohol for months — or even years — your cells can reach a state where they no longer respond to insulin. This leads to elevated blood sugar and quick conversion of sugar to fat. The most common place your body stores quickly-converted fat? The belly.
Adrenal imbalance. During times of stress, your adrenal glands release excess cortisol and adrenaline that can lead to elevated blood sugar followed by weight gain. Living in a chronic “fight or flight” state wreaks havoc on hormone balance, increases hunger, and causes intense cravings for the high sugar foods that cause fat accumulation, especially around your belly.
Perimenopause/menopause hormone imbalance. As early as the age of 35, estrogen and progesterone levels can begin to fluctuate and then drop. During these years of hormonal ups and downs, your body naturally tries to preserve fertility for as long as possible and turns to stored belly fat because it makes estrogen.
Estrogen dominance. Too much estrogen in relation to your other sex hormones can have a deep impact on weight gain. Estrogen levels can be strongly influenced by hormones and antibiotics in conventionally-raised meats, dairy products and toxic chemicals in the environment. These effects create a perfect storm for disrupting metabolism. Substances such as bisphenonal A (BPA) are known hormone disruptors that contribute to weight gain.
It really seems like your body is working against you, right? Good to know that there are solutions that functionally reverse these metabolic challenges.
Five steps to lose belly fat
1. Limit your carbohydrate intake. Evaluate the quality of the nutrition in the foods you consume every day so you get the most out of everything you eat. Since “white” foods break down into sugar quickly and lead to belly fat gain, eat fewer processed carbohydrates (food in a box) and look for whole foods instead. Building meals around colorful vegetables and lean proteins can improve insulin sensitivity almost immediately.
Bonus step: exercise in a way that builds muscle tissue. Weight training, yoga and interval training can build muscle, which helps insulin do its job.
2. Lighten your stress load. We know you’ve heard this advice so many times it’s becoming a cliché. But here’s why it matters for getting rid of your belly fat: managing stress through meditation and yoga lowers cortisol levels and changes how fat is deposited. You can also provide herbal support for stress symptoms. Our herbal combination formula includes astragalus root, Siberian ginseng and rhodiola to enhance your body’s resilience against stress. Check out Adaptisol in our SHOP.
Bonus step: enjoy more time sleeping and getting outside. Studies show that just getting 8 hours of sleep lowers stress and helps keep your hunger levels and weight in check. Spending more time in nature has proven calming and anti-stress benefits.
Limit or avoid these belly fat foods and drinks
- Fruit juice
- White bagels and bread
- White crackers
- White pasta and rice
- Sugary treats (even fat-free versions!)
3. Balance your hormones. Ease the burden of hormonal fluctuation by supplementing with hormone-supportive herbs. Try black cohosh, red clover and kudzu for estrogen imbalances and passionflower, chasteberry and wild yam for progesterone imbalances. We’ve formulated Herbal Equilibrium with all of these herbs and your body taps into the ingredients only as necessary because they are “adaptogenic.”
Bonus step: add healthy fats from foods like wild salmon, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and avocado so your body has the building blocks it needs to make hormones.
4. Build healthy gut flora. Recent studies show that the bacteria in your gut can play a large role in your weight. Take a high quality probiotic to populate your gut with healthy bacteria that helps you digest and metabolize food. It’s also a great idea to consume 1-2 cups of fermented foods daily.
Bonus step: increase your intake of fiber. Foods like asparagus, garlic, onions, lentils and squash provide the “prebiotics” that feed the good bacteria. “Bad” bacteria thrive on refined carbs like sugar.
5. Add metabolic boosters. Metabolic boosters can support a healthy metabolism and increase your calorie- and fat-burning potential. Our formula M-Boost contains Indian sphaeranthus and mangosteen — both are thought to regulate the accumulation of fat and increase the body’s natural fat-burning process. It also includes green tea extract, known to increase calorie-burning, and chromium to help balance insulin and blood sugar.
Bonus step: Strength-training is a powerful way to boost metabolism, especially if you do it 3-4 times per week.
These are the tools you need to begin losing your belly fat. Look in our SHOP if you are interested in following a more comprehensive approach to your weight loss. Our Weight Loss Resistance Program helps clear stubborn weight with a custom diet plan (including shopping lists and delicious recipes), a handy protein shake (with probiotics and green tea extract), M-Boost, and herbal support for your unique imbalance (hormonal, adrenal, or thyroid).
And our experienced support team right here in Maine is ready to help as you begin your weight loss journey. It’s time to let go of the extra baggage you’re carrying — you’re ready!