There are many factors that contribute to belly fat, but none are more influential than insulin, your body’s fat storage hormone. High insulin levels not only increase inflammation and oxidative stress, but also send signals to your body to gain weight around your waist resulting in a more apple shaped figure.
Many eventually become insulin resistant leading to sugar cravings, fatigue after meals, hypoglycemia, high triglycerides, low sex drive, and low HDL (healthy cholesterol).
Here are 6 ways to control your insulin levels and lose belly fat:
1. Manage stress levels.
Chronic stress causes your brain to shrink and your belly to grow. Chronically elevated levels of your stress hormone cortisol cause increased blood sugar and cholesterol, depression, dementia, and promotes the accumulation of belly fat that we so commonly see in patients with insulin resistance or diabetes. You crave sugar and carbs and seek comfort food.
2. Optimize your nutrient levels.
Take a high-quality multivitamin that contains blood sugar-balancing nutrients. Eat foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are important for controlling insulin function. Get plenty of vitamin D either through sun light or a dietary supplement. Low levels of this critical vitamin impair appetite control.
3. Limit alcohol.
A nice glass of red wine with a meal, a cold beer on a hot day, or a shot of tequila at a party are some of the sweet pleasures of life. But as a daily habit, alcohol can do more harm than you realize, especially if you struggle with weight loss.
Consider this: If you drink two glasses of wine a day, you will consume about 72,000 extra calories a year, which could mean an extra 20 pounds a year. And these liquid calories go right to your belly. Stop for six weeks. See how you feel. Then, if you want, enjoy one to three glasses of wine or alcohol a week. (A “glass” is 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, or 12 ounces of beer.)
4. Get 7– 8 hours of sleep.
Not getting enough sleep drives sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. One study found even a partial night’s poor sleep could contribute to insulin resistance. Poor sleep also adversely impacts fat-regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin. You need to prepare for sleep.
5. Eat real food.
When we eat real food, which contains many nutrients, we are more satisfied, eat less, and lose belly fat. Getting adequate vitamins and minerals helps you burn calories more efficiently, helps regulate appetite, lowers inflammation, boosts detoxification, aids digestion, regulates stress hormones, and helps your cells become more insulin sensitive.
Along with lots of green vegetables, include protein in every meal since studies show it keeps you fuller longer so you lose more weight.
6. Be active every day.
Aside from changing your diet, exercise is probably the single best medication for health. Get at least 30 minutes of activity every day. Whether you’re going for a walk, doing one of HASfit’s new 30 minute Power Yoga Workout for Strength, or just playing in the back yard with family, it is important to get moving each and every day.