Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat

belly-fatWe are all familiar with “fat”. It is one term who all are fixated about. But the latest is “stress fat”. It is known that even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly, chronic stress can make you gain weight.

How does this happen?

Your body has various responses to stress. If you have had a stressful day, Your brain instructs your body to release adrenaline hormones which brings out stored energy so that you can fight or flee the stressful moments. But the at the same time, cortisol hormone is also released which will tell your body to replenish the spent energy, even though you have not used up many calories. These hormones can make you very hungry. So as long as you are stressed, cortisol keeps being released and hunger pangs are increased.

Cortisol hormone increases the visceral fat which is the fat surrounding your abdomen. This fat is dangerous as it surrounds the vital organs such as liver, pancreas etc and also releases fatty acids into your blood thereby raising the blood cholesterol, insulin levels and you are paving your way to heart diseases, diabetes and obesity.

As it is not completely possible to be immune to stress or get completely rid of it, you can learn to beat stress. By following few of these steps below, You can get your cortisol levels and your weight under control and improve your overall health at the same time.

Step 1: Exercise daily

Exercise is a wonderful stress buster. The blood circulates faster, thereby flushing out the cortisol hormone through the kidneys. Stretching exercises or any other form of exercise can help.  Utilize the time in your lunch break for a walk if you cannot exercise daily. Hitting the gym is a stress buster.

Step 2: Eat slowly
Wolfing down any kind of food can increase your belly fat, even the food is healthy. Eating while working or on the run, thinking about work or any unhappy thoughts or having an unpleasant conversation while eating can increase your stress levels. Pay attention to your food. “Art of Living” emphasizes that one should live in the present moment. Hence savor each bite and pay attention to feelings of fullness. This will help to prevent formation of belly fat.

Step 3: Stop being diet-centric
Stop focusing too much on your diet. Excess dieting can actually make you lose your self control as you are only thinking about eating. If you eat very less, your body experiences stress and the cortisol levels increase. When cortisol levels increase, your blood sugars go hay wire. To prevent this, Eat a balanced diet which will keep your sugar levels normal. It is always advisable to eat 6 small meals through the day. By eating this way, you wont be hungry nor will you be stressed about eating and you will effortlessly drop the extra kilos.

Step 4: Indulge occasionally
Do not deprive your self completely as this can make your cortisol levels go out of control as you are continuously stressing by reminding your self not to eat. Take a bite of what you love. I love chocolates but I stick to once a week bite but I do not devour the whole bar. You can make your indulgence healthier by opting for a healthier version but again healthy does not always mean low calorie, so stick to the “one bite policy”. Also keep them out of your reach. Do not stock them at home. They may become your late night boredom snacks, if you see them lying about.

Step 5: Decrease caffeine intake
Stress and caffeine are like dynamite. They together can raise your cortisol levels. This is something I make my clients understand who tell me that they keep sipping too much of coffee or tea. Cut down your trips to the coffee counter if you want to lose weight effectively. Quitting caffeine for sometime can help to speed up weight loss and decrease belly fat.

Step 6: Have a power packed breakfast

Deficiencies of various vitamins and minerals can lead to increased food cravings and eventually weight gain. So its important to eat a nutritious breakfast. My favorite breakfast is whole grain bread or wheat rotis with peanut butter with a different fruit daily especially citrus fruits for vitamin C. Whole grains provide vitamin B which help to break down food easily and peanut butter gives good fats which reduces stress hormones. So include nuts daily by sprinkling it over breakfast cereals. Include a Calcium source such as milk, yogurt etc.

Step 7: Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is the major stressor on the body. Those who sleep less than 6 hours are known to gain weight. Ideal amount of sleep is 6-8 hours. It is also known that those who sleep less, are said to have higher levels of hunger boosting hormone called as ghrelin. So those who do not sleep enough, catch up on enough sleep. Remember to eat atleast 2 hours before going to bed. This is really good for digestion as well as for good sleep. Try to go to bed early. Ideal time to sleep is 10-11 pm.

Step 8: Meditate or get spiritual

Both have a calming effect on the brain and maintain the blood pressure. Being spiritual, helps to reduce stress and help in the production of feel good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

Step 9: Listen to music
Listening to music while exercising is a great buster. So next time you go for a walk, do not forget your Ipod. Relax at home by listening to music.

Step 10: Get a massage
Massage therapy is great for relieving stress. You can get it done professionally or from your partner. It relaxes the muscles and helps in better blood circulation, thereby decreasing the cortisol levels.

Try out all these methods for a flatter belly and to lead a stress free life.

Sanjana M Shenoy is a A dietitian from Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Having worked as a Dietitian for the Manipal Group of Hospitals namely KMC hospital Mangalore, India. She is also a consultant for corporate's like Infosys and others, conducting talks and presentations for various associations and local television shows. She consults at her Diet and Nutrition clinic "Nutrihealth" in Mangalore. Also is a visiting consultant to various hospitals in and around Mangalore and also runs an active online consultation.

3 Replies to “Ways to beat “Stress fat” aka Belly fat”

  1. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!

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