‘If you have excessive fat around your belly, this suggests you have high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol,’ explains women’s BioSignature Modulation practitioner, Niki Rein. ‘Stress raises your blood pressure, while also increasing the flow of glucose into the blood stream. High cortisol levels caused by lack of sleep or work-related stress raise your insulin levels, and result in excess sugar being stored as fat.’
Change your diet:
The main culprit is sugar, in the form of alcohol and refined white high-GI grains (white baked products, pasta and flour), which rapidly raise blood glucose levels, believes Tomlinson. ‘Elevated levels of glucose in the blood, directly after eating high GI foods, triggers the release of insulin, which sweeps the excess glucose out of the bloodstream and stores it as fat. The best way to balance your blood glucose levels is to eat foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) that take time for the body to digest and therefore slow down the amount of glucose entering your bloodstream. You should also follow a Mediterranean diet, packed with vegetables and protein, which helps balance blood sugar levels. Half the battle of stomach fat spot reduction is won by keeping your blood sugar levels stable,’ Tomlinson says.
Rethink your exercise:
‘Your cortisol levels are highest at 8am, so work out in the morning while they are naturally elevated,’ suggests Rein. ‘You should also keep cardio sessions under 40 minutes, to prevent putting your body under further stress. Try short and sharp interval sessions, to help tap into those fat stores while preserving lean muscle tissue. Aim for 10 sets of 30-second sprints followed by 90 seconds’ rest.’
What supplements do I need?
Drink plenty of water with a fibre, such as Solgar’s Psyllium Husk Fibre, £12.73 (solgar.com/uk) to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar, as well as liquorice root.
Try Good N Natural Liquorice Root, £7.65 (hollandandbarrett.com) and Holy Basil, £14.95 from Pukka Herbs (pukkaherbs.com) to lower stress levels. Vitamin D3, try Holland & Barrett £7.65 for 100 caplets (hollandand barrett.com), also helps lower blood sugar.
Don’t forget your weekly rest day!
Rest is important for reducing fat around your stomach. The stress hormone cortisol, responsible for fat storage around your middle, falls the more you rest and sleep, so rotate your workouts and, once a month, add in a fun or soothing workout, such as yoga.