Is it really difficult to lose belly fat?
Usually, exercise alone doesn’t work. Dieting rarely works long term. You never achieve your goal or the result doesn’t last.
Along the way you’ve endured starvation, cravings and hair loss instead of losing belly fat. Sounds familiar?
You find yourself wasting time and money, the result is not forthcoming, you are more stressed and depressed than before. You start eating to comfort yourself, as it’s a fast non-functional ‘cure’ for depression and anxiety.
It’s a vicious circle, right?
You are confused, sick and tired…
And the belly fat is the worst part!
It’s not just making you hate how you look. It’s dangerous for your health too, because abdominal fat is associated with the development of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and cancer!
The good news is we can do something to prevent these diseases. You can lose belly fat naturally at home.
Dr Shawn Talbott in his book ‘The Cortisol Connection’ explains what stress does to us, how chronic stress leads to more belly fat and why it’s dangerous for our health. He explains how to lose belly fat as well.
Yes. Let’s jump in.
According to Dr Shawn Talbott, you need to learn to control only 3 things if you want to lose belly fat naturally.
1. Control Stress (cortisol) Levels Mostly by EATING
WHY? You need to control stress because stress increases the body’s cortisol level and chronic stress (constant high cortisol level) INCREASES APPETITE and CRAVINGS (especially for certain foods like calorie-dense sweets and salty snacks).
As a result, you experience ABDOMINAL FAT GAIN!
HOW? There are a lot of ways to decrease stress:
1.1. Avoid stressful situations (whenever you can) in the first place.
1.2. Reduce caffeine as too much caffeine leads to nervousness and anxiety.
1.3. Avoid alcohol as it causes dehydration, which your body perceives as a stressor. Alcohol also increases the occurrence of nighttime awakenings.
1.4. Start using vitamins and minerals – particularly ‘stress-formula’ multivitamins, as Dr Shawn calls them. Take at least vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and B-complex vitamins.
1.5. Drink 4-5 cups of green tea per day.
1.6. Do physical exercise, meditation, tai chi, etc.
1.7. Avoid any kind of deprivation:
-sleep deprivation – sleep for 8 hours and 15 minutes every night
-water deprivation – drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
-avoid food deprivation as well – STOP DIETING.
1.8. EAT right instead:
-eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day. Your 3 meals per day must consist of:
(1) a tightly closed fist-sized whole carbohydrate source, like pasta, bread, or cereal
(2) a palm of your hand-sized protein, like fish, eggs, low-fat yoghurt, low-fat milk, chicken, steak, etc.
(3) fat – the size of the OK sign made by your index finger and thumb, like olive oil, butter, cheese, nuts, etc
(4) fruits and vegetables of the size of your open hand, particularly the ones that have bright orange, yellow and red colours for carotenoids, and bright blue, purple and green for flavonoids
Your 2 daily snacks must consist of (1) fruits and vegetables of the size of your open hand, and (2) fat (olive oil, butter) the size of the OK sign made by your index finger and thumb.
-EAT yoghurt with probiotics – Bifidobacterium longum (anxiety), Lactobacillus rhamnosus (stress), Lactobacillus helveticus (depression)
You need to consume about 1200 – 1800 calories per day (depending on your body/hand size). This amount of calories is associated with long-term weight-loss success.
TIP: I know it’s difficult to measure calories at home. If you want to lose belly fat, I suggest starting just with the above eating plan and losing 2-3 kilos (or, at least stop gaining weight) only by eating less fat and sugar and more fruits and vegetables. This way you ensure you are consuming the correct amount of food to start losing weight. This is what I did, I was 69 kg and went to 67 kg before I did anything else.
Experiment with new food, find out what you like and don’t like. For example, I discovered that I don’t like raw vegetables, but I do like boiled vegetables, especially dark green ones, such as peas and broccoli.
HERE IS YOUR SUPERMARKET SHOPPING LIST FOR FOOD WHICH HELPS YOU TO LOSE BELLY FAT NATURALLY (take a screenshot and keep it with you for when you go shopping):
2. Control Your Testosterone Level to Lose Your Belly Fat
WHY? Because a low testosterone level causes fatigue, loss of muscle mass, reduced sex drive and BODY FAT GAIN!
There was a study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where researchers found that overweight men had a low level of testosterone. And, low testosterone was actually related to increased FAT GAIN in the ABDOMINAL AREA!
HOW? Dr Talbott suggests different natural ways for controlling testosterone. Because two of them are already covered above (controlling sleep and water deprivation), you have only two things to add:
2.1. Exercise. According to Dr Shawn Talbott and the scientific research he refers to, the best physical activities to increase your testosterone level are: endurance exercise and lifting weights. For best results, you need to add fast running. Don’t worry you can do this at home.
I found this YouTube video (Fat Eliminator by Minna) several years ago, which helped me to lose 7 kilos. I recommend it because it’s a 50 minute long exercise, which will be necessary to lose a lot of belly fat. Plus, in the end, they add hand weights.
Once you know you are eating the right food and taking in the correct amount of calories, add exercise to start losing more weight faster. I know it can be difficult changing your habits and suddenly start going to the gym and running outside. Besides, rainy or cold weather can be an obstacle for some people.
TIP: For the best results and to ensure the maximum enjoyment, choose the exercise type you used to enjoy as a child. For example, mine was a bike, so I used an exercise bike to lose belly fat naturally at home. The muscles at work in cycling are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the upper leg, plus the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf. In order to lose belly fat while pedalling, you need to do 4 things: rotate your torso, increase the resistance by using the highest gear, stand up out of the saddle as you pedal and do alternate arm reaches. The recommended time is 20 to 30 minutes per day.
Other types of exercise you can do to lose belly fat are a plank (stay still for a minute), side planks, and 20-30 bicycles on your back on the mat.
2.2. Change the way you perceive and cope with stress. To control your testosterone level, you need to learn how you perceive and cope with stress in different situations. The body’s positive and natural response to stress is a temporary rise in cortisol level.
A negative, unhealthy response is when you keep ‘revisiting’ a stressful event over and over in your mind (worrying) – your cortisol level rises, and your testosterone level falls.
A psychology study conducted by Alicia Salvador at the University of Valencia has shown that when humans cope even with social competition, a ‘psychobiological coping response’(fight or flight) is activated.
Studies on mammalian species have shown that the hormonal changes (an increase in testosterone level and a decrease in cortisol level) depend on the outcome of the competition (winning or losing).
Alicia Salvador showed that in humans hormonal changes (a decrease in cortisol and an increase in testosterone) depend less on the outcome of the competition and more on the coping strategy before the competition.
Winners show active coping patterns in stress situations. Active coping is when you perceive your stress as a challenge. As a result, you have a better mood, a higher level of testosterone and SNS (sympathetic nervous system) activation.
3. Control Your Body’s ‘Fat-Storing’ Enzyme (HSD) by EATING
WHY? A scientist at the Mayo Clinic found that stress management techniques can control only about a third of the body’s total cortisol.
Another third is controlled by HSD.
Some people don’t have high cortisol in their blood, but they still gain weight because of the high cortisol inside the cells, which is increased only by the enzyme HSD (11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1).
In abdominal areas, a high HSD activity leads to a bigger waistline.
Researchers from the USA National Institute of Diabetes conducted a long-term (5 years) study and found: a direct relationship between HSD and abdominal fat gain.
Not only this, the researchers found that HSD high activity has ‘a causative role in promoting obesity’.
It’s complicated. But, fortunately, it’s super easy for us (once scientists discover this) to reduce HSD activity naturally!
HOW? One more natural and crucial step to take if you want to lose belly fat – is again, by EATING. The good news is that the ‘Fat-Storing’ Enzyme (HSD) can be reduced naturally by consuming more flavonoids. Just by eating apples and onions (which contain flavonoids called quercetin) and soybeans (which contain flavonoids called genistein and daidzein).
Yes, you heard that right.
So, I have already added to your NEW SUPERMARKET SHOPPING LIST :
TIP: I used to hate apples because my front teeth became sensitive. Here is a trick, it doesn’t happen if you don’t actually bite the apple, but cut it instead.
We are done, but…
Is it really important to lose belly fat?
Let me tell you a story.
I had an aunt, we loved each other very much, and I was trying to follow her example in life. I was pleased when I found something we had in common. But, she was very anxious and had a big belly.
‘This was the one thing I didn’t take from her’, I thought then. As a teenager, I had the flattest belly among the girls at school, and I was very proud of it!
But, later after I turned 30, I started to notice that I became very anxious like my aunt. My belly started growing too. It was then that I read an article saying that belly fat is a consequence of stress and anxiety!
True, my belly started growing when I began to work as a cashier in a very busy Greek restaurant. There I was literally alone taking orders for eat-in customers plus answering delivery phone calls.
I used a computer for taking orders. I had already taken a fast typing course, but I still barely managed to keep up with taking all the food orders, and of course this caused me a lot of stress.
My belly started growing for the first time.
So, I was like my aunt after all!
Ok, what’s so wrong with this?
The problem is she had very high blood pressure.
She had three strokes caused by cardiovascular disease, which is a consequence of stress.
And she sadly died…at the age of 60…
Can belly fat really kill you? Well, it’s not the fat itself, but belly fat is an indicator of poor health. It’s a sign that you need to do something about your health. This is quite helpful, I would say.
Four years ago I reached my maximum weight of 67 kilos (I am short, so it’s a lot for me). I wanted to lose 7 kilos. I started a little exercise, fast walking, eating apples, starving. It was tough.
But, it worked!
I lost 7 kilos in about three months. Good news, right? Not really. Because I gained 3 kilos very fast afterwards.
Two weeks ago I was 69 kilos, my waist was 90 cm and my belly had reached 101 cm!
Dieting and worrying about my weight causes me additional stress, so sometimes I just give up, stop dieting, and stop measuring myself. But, after a while, when I check my weight…OMG, here we go again.
And up until now I did not know how to lose 7-9 kilos again, because I had tried so many things, I didn’t know what exactly had worked.
And I have heard different bits of advice like ‘exercise with hand weights’ or ‘you need to eat wholegrain bread’. I was asking myself why I should do it? I wanted to know the deeper reason.
In his book ‘The Cortisol Connection’ Dr Shawn Talbott explains in depth why we need to exercise and eat wholegrain bread.
I had another obstacle while trying to lose my belly fat. As I found out from the book, nutritionists call it metabolic adaptation. Here is the thing – when I started to eat less, I lost several kilos from the beginning, but after several weeks this process stopped.
Dr Tabbot explains: ’Weight loss continues for a few days or weeks, and then it stops. The weight may even start to creep back on to your hips and belly.
This is an example of your body adapting its metabolism (by burning fewer calories) to its new environment (fewer calories being consumed, a higher cortisol level, lower testosterone level, etc.).’
TIP FROM DR TALBOTT: you need to ‘outsmart’ the metabolic adaptation if you want to lose belly fat. He suggests the 3S approach: the first S is for small, meaning making little changes in your diet (not starving), so you don’t provoke the metabolic adaptation process (start burning fewer calories).
The second S is for simultaneous, meaning to control three things at the same time – the three things I have described in this article above: #1 controlling cortisol, #2 controlling testosterone, and #3 controlling HSD.
The third S is for sustained, meaning that you need to keep at it for life!
For life, right!
I don’t want to go back ever again! I lost my 2 first kilos only by step #1, just making sure I am consuming the correct amount of calories. Now I am adding step #2 – exercise, and step #3 – controlling the Fat-Storing’ Enzyme (HSD) by eating apples.
Lost another 5 kilos. My weight was 62 kilos, waist circumference 81 cm (9 cm smaller) and my belly circumference was 90 cm (11 centimetres smaller!). My goal is to be about 55 kilos. I used to 52 when I was young.
You can do the same. You will feel so good and proud of yourself. People will keep noticing and saying that you have lost weight and look very beautiful and slim.
The most important thing is you will know how easily you did it. You can maintain your desired weight without starving and without struggling. Your biggest desire to just eat and not to worry about belly fat will come true.
The goal is to stop worrying and just be happy.
You will start enjoying your meals and your wonderful life.
It’s possible, you will get there!
If you would like to learn more, find Dr Talbott’s book here.
Once more, here is your New Food Shopping List and the links for Exercise Tools:
Talbott, Sh. M. (2007). The Cortisol Connection. Alameda: Hunter House.
Photo source: rawpixel/Unsplash