12 Days of Fitness 2011 – Day 4: Do You Suffer From Belly Fat?

4111(This is Part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

The infamous pot belly, beer gut, fat pooch, spare tire – all fun monikers of unwanted belly fat. Like many Americans unfortunately, you or someone you know probably suffers from regional fat storage issues. The body stores fat over the entire body, but it’s always the most noticeable areas where people focus yet struggle to lose.  For this discussion, I’m referring to the abdomen and whether you’re a man or woman, the solution is the same – you can’t spot reduce but instead must decrease overall body fat for a problem area to diminish. These problem areas are not only influenced by poor dietary choices, but heavily by your hormonal environment, and where you store that last bit of fat is determined by which of your hormones are most out of whack.

One Bad Mammajamma

One of the things that has been talked about quite a bit in fitness media is the relationship between belly fat and a hormone called “cortisol”, or the stress hormone. To put it simply, the higher your cortisol levels, the more belly fat you’re likely to have. By the same token, if you have a good deal of belly fat, it’s reasonable to assume that you have high levels of cortisol. Having high cortisol is detrimental for many reasons, but for this discussion, let’s focus on the fact that cortisol is keeping you well padded up front. The obvious solution would be to try and lower cortisol levels but if it were that easy no one would have proud paunches like Mr. Claus. The good news is that it is possible.

Fight Fire With Fire

To combat hormones artificially is a war I feel not many people are going to win.  That is, taking hormones to try to counteract what other hormones are trying to do naturally.  The intricacy of hormones and how they interact is a dangerous path with lots of potential side effects.  The good news however, is that there is a natural combatant to rising cortisol levels and that is growth hormone.  No, I’m not suggesting taking growth hormone. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and is responsible for growth and the best natural way to stimulate growth hormone is….EXERCISE! But of course, it isn’t that easy.

Growth hormone is released as a response to the production of lactic acid, the burning sensation in muscles that is a waste byproduct of the chemical and metabolic processes that happen during exercise. To put it to you more simply, the more intense (resistance training, short rest periods, interval training), the more lactic acid you produce, the more growth hormone you’ll produce naturally as a result. The increased growth hormone surge will help combat your high cortisol levels. Going to the gym and just going through the motions isn’t going to cut it. Sporadic or infrequent training isn’t going to do it either. Neither is fad, crash dieting to “give you a head start”. Real change requires real work done real hard.  You get out what you out in; it’s as simple as that.

See you tomorrow for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.



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