Continual stress, lack of sleep, and belly fat have much in common. Stress produces cortisol. Continual stress stores cortisol.
Fat around our midsection has a different metabolic predisposition for hormones. It responds and stores cortisol when we are under stress. (As women pass the age of menopause and as men pass testeropause there are very dynamic changes that take place in our body chemistry. This results in belly fat EXCEPT for those who remain physically active all their life.)
Our bodies are created by our creator to handle stress, but not continual stress. We must have time to recover. (As stress becomes continual, the body begins to produce cortisol in its efforts to try and repair some of the damage and injury being done. Slowly the body begins to store cortisol because it cannot convert it to a usable source while the stress is going on. Guess where this cortisol is stored? It is stored as belly fat.)
A 1995 study showed that people who run high levels of cortisol in their saliva tests tend to have belly fat (even if they are otherwise thin people). (A study in 2003 Journal of Scandinavia revealed that alcohol also raised the response of cortisol. Alcohol is a liver toxin and inhibits the body from using and metabolizing fat.)
A High Carbohydrate Diet
(A high carbohydrate diet –not good carbs like fruit and vegetables, but processed carbs like cookies, bread, pastry, pasta – also causes cortisol levels to climb. On the other hand, high protein and complex carbohydrate vegetables are benefits causing cortisol to be used up.)
- Our body converts stored cortisol into a healing nutrient in deep sleep. The problem arises when we don’t get that deep sleep to allow the body to convert it and heal the injuries of the day. (Cutting-edge sleep researchers are learning that our round-the-clock schedules may deteriorate our health in surprising ways. While scientists don’t yet know why studies continue to show that those who don’t get enough deep restful sleep tend to gain weight.)
- Belly fat is cruel fat because it forms not only on the outside (called subcutaneous fat which lies directly beneath the skin and on top of the abdominal muscles), but also on the inside of the abdomen putting pressure on internal organs. (This is called visceral fat, and that lies deeper in the abdomen beneath your muscle and surrounding your organs.) Visceral fat also plays a role in giving certain men that “beer belly” appearance where their abdomen protrudes excessively but at the same time, also feels sort of hard if you push on it.
An article I just read by Jon Benson gave 5 excellent tips on preventing and overcoming belly fat. We want to do all we can to prevent the storage of cortisol. This includes being watchful of foods we eat and drinks we drink. It also includes finding ways to be free of worry.
Flip The Food Pyramid Upside-down
Jon believes the USDA’s Food Pyramid is an utter joke.
Just think about this for a moment, he says, “The USDA wants you to eat (gasp) MORE starch than vegetables? More bread than fruits, lean meats, and healthy fats?”
Can The Sodas (yes, even “diet” sodas)
… yes, DIET-sodas. Need I say “real” sodas too? They are loaded with sugar. Why diet-sodas? A recent study revealed that people who drank diet-sodas actually increased body fat when compared to those who drank sugar-sodas.
God says our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, and it appears by research that they don’t seem to be fooled by aspartame and chemicals.
We need to choose water as our beverage of choice. Jon Benson recommends a quart of pure water per 50 lbs of body weight a day. I have always recommended taking your body weight and dividing that by two and drinking that number of ounces of water.
Benson says he mixes his water with lemon and a bit of Stevia (an herbal sweetener) and makes lemonade. It is good!
Ditch The Starch
These can be healthy in some cases, but they can also pack on some belly fat quickly if you overdo them. Benson suggests taking a “weekly” approach to foods rather than a daily approach. This keeps your metabolism guessing.
(Whole grain bread is better than white flour bread by far, but it should be limited too. Ezekiel Bread is one of the best. And mothers, please watch what you feed your children as you are developing their habits right now. A child left to his own choices will make some very bad ones. Sadly, the more bad choices he makes or is given, the more the child is training his body to call for those bad foods. ~ Dani)
It is okay to be hungry. In fact, Benson says it is good to stay hungry. “I want you to stay hungry in two ways: In how you workout and literally… stay a bit hungry before you go to bed. Not “starving”… just a bit hungry.
“As far as staying hungry at night? Check with your doctor and if he/she okays it take 500mg of potassium and 1000mg of magnesium/calcium a few hours prior to bed. This helps with the hunger pangs. Also, keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for a healthy source of protein and healthy fats. If you get really hungry, eat one at night. It keeps me full for an hour at least.” ~ Jon Benson, author of Fit Over 40. Here is a link to find out more about a great and inexpensive Potassium, Magnesium product called Vitalmag
Veggies at Night
“Raw veggies with your last meal and as a snack will really help your fat burning along. I started with red peppers because they’re sweet. Now I eat virtually every veggie raw at night without thinking about it. Give this a shot. The fat loss is well worth it.” ~ Benson article from Jon Benson
But the time to act is now!
If you wait until you get older, you might just forget that you ever read this article.
Wishing you a life long and strong,