How To Lose Belly Fat In Men – The Stress Factor

I constantly see men struggling with losing belly fat. Whiles some men know exactly what is causing  them to have expanded waistlines, others simply have no idea. Some go after what foods burn belly fat and what exercises burn belly fat, but knowing what causes your waistline to keep expanding despite your best efforts at exercise and controlling your diet can go a long way in helping you lose that fat. Men and women store fat differently, so how to lose belly fat in women would be slightly different from that of men (I will cover that in a different post).

It is a known fact that women carry more fat on their bodies than men. The body fat percentage of a healthy, active woman is 18-20%, whereas men carry about 10-15%. Fat is also distributed differently in men and women, women mostly tend to store their fat in their hips, buttocks, thighs, and lower abdomen. Men on the other hand, are more likely store excess fat in the upper body, especially in the abdominal region, which results in the “pot belly” effect that so many men struggle with. Another thing is that, men also tend to lose fat more efficiently through diet, than exercise. In this post, I would be touching on how stress contributes to belly fat and weight gain, and what you can do solve that.

 


So What exactly is belly fat?

Fat accumulated in the lower body is subcutaneous, the kind that can be grasped with the hand. However there is another, called visceral fat, this is fat in the abdominal area. Visceral fat is stored around a number of important organs  such as the liver, pancreas and intestines; and has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Belly fat could be the result of both types of fat.


So how does stress cause belly fat?

One cause of belly fat that is not commonly mentioned is STRESS.  “Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight, or even add pounds,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. Yes, stress can seriously hamper your efforts at losing belly fat. The stress could be as a result of high demand at work, problems in the home, relationship issues, sickness, trauma or injury. Whatever may be causing  the stress, it is the adrenal glands that manage our response to stress. It does this by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

 

 

The adrenaline taps the stored energy, so you can flee or fight. At the same time, cortisol is being pumped out, which tells your body to replenish the energy even though you haven’t really used much calories. This can make you hungry (very hungry), we start to crave for food, and more often than not, we don’t crave for the healthy ones (you don’t see many people reaching for fruits and veggies when they are stressed out), “Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension,” explains Elissa Epel, PhD, a researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco. The longer we are stressed, the more cortisol is pumped into the body, and the cycle continues.

 

It is also very possible to lose sleep when the adrenals are overworked, the overworked adrenals can cause you to wake up in the night and fail to fall asleep again. This consequently affects the hormones that control our appetite. Ghrelin is the appetite stimulating hormone, it raises the desire for high-carb foods. Leptin is the hormone that controls appetite. Loss of sleep causes ghrelin to go up and leptin to go down, we then tend to get more tired and move slower, then gain weight.

Adrenal Imbalance can also cause the body to store more fat at the waistline. How does this happen? Okay, so this is the science behind it; when we feel hungry, our blood sugar drops, the brain then sends a message to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol then activates glucose, fat and amino acids to keep the body fueled until we eat. Cortisol maintains blood sugar levels and insulin helps cells absorb glucose. Remember Cortisol is also the hormone released to manage stress. When we have stress over a long period, both cortisol and insulin levels remain elevated in the blood, and the extra glucose is stored as fat ,most often in the abdomen ( this is because fat cells have special receptors for cortisol, and there are more of these receptors in our abdominal fat cells than anywhere in the body).


So What Can Be Done About This…?

So basically you have to avoid too much stress, relax and learn to have some fun. Watch out for signs of stress and try to avoid situations that normally lead to you being stressed.  You should also

By Julius Schorzman – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Avoid or cut down caffeine; caffeine causes adrenal fatigue, this is because caffeine stimulates neuron activity in the brain, so whenever you drink a cup of coffee, neurons send messages to your pituitary gland which then alerts your adrenals to pump out adrenaline and cortisol.

 

  • Exercise; whenever you feel stressed, just perform any physical activity; walking, flexing your hands or calves. Moving your muscles is an effective instant stress reliever. Exercising causes the blood to circulate quickly, hence the cortisol gets to kidneys faster and is flushed out.

 

  • Have enough sleep, try and have about 8 hours of sleep so your body can rest and regulate your hormonal cycles. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. Interestingly, research shows that, lack of sleep also raises the levels of ghrelin, remember ghrelin right, the hunger boosting hormone. In one study, appetite particularly for sweet, salty and high fat foods increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. As if that weren’t enough, other research shows that lack of sleep also raises levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone. In one study, appetite—particularly for sweet and salty foods—increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. Fortunately, a few nights of solid sleep can bring all this back into balance, and getting enough regularly will help keep it there.
  • If you’re a corporate person and don’t have an idea how to limit stress, check out this post ‘5 fun ways corporate workers can escape stress‘  for some fun ways to relieve stress at the workplace.

 

  • Practice deep breaths whenever you are under stress to calm your heart rate and your entire body.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I would love to have your feedback too, let me know what you think about the post.

Stay Healthy!

Dela.

22 thoughts on “How To Lose Belly Fat In Men – The Stress Factor”

  1. Hi,
    Well done. I think one of the biggest problems for men after getting married is gaining weight. So, I’ve experienced belly fat as well after breaking my diet. I pick some tips from your article. What do you prefer for me to control my stress? Do you have any posts about it?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Amir,

      I’m glad you picked some tips from the article. Concerning what you can do about stress, I gave a few tips at the end of the article, but I will be writing a comprehensive one on the subject soon.

      Stay Healthy!

  2. Hi, Excellent Advice. Stress is an often overlooked factor when trying to lose weight. People go on a strict fad diets and join a gym and often this simply adds to the stress especially when the “instant” expected results don’t happen.

    this further stress then helps lead to people into giving up. By starting your weight loss journey from a happy relaxed place where you are simply working on making your life better often leads to far more success!

  3. Everywhere we look in society today there are people that are facing this issue and the truth of the matter is it is unhealthy and can cause a serious health risk. Your article on belly fat and how to lose it is pretty amazing and well detailed with lots of good information that your readers will find to be really helpful.

  4. Nice article! I will be sure to share this with my husband! I love the advice and tips that you give because we try diets, but the belly doesn’t really change, his legs and waist just get smaller. Thanks for the information.

    1. Great to hear from you Tiffany…I’ll be glad to know how the tips work for your husband. I’ll be posting more on the subject, so please do check in from time to time

  5. Wow! How many melons is the guy smuggling in is stomach? LOL! Stress is a serious problem for many people and different people handle it (or mishandle it) differently. Belly fat is so unhealthy. It’s important to do all we can to get rid of it!

    1. Lol. With regards to the melons, my guess is 3. And Yes, more people are putting on weight as a result of stress, and this is leading to a lot of health challenges

  6. After reading your post, I guess I have to work on getting more sleep. I don’t really get enough sleep. I probably get around 6 hours of sleep every night, and try to nap during the day when I can. Thanks.

  7. Hi Daniel.
    Thanks for the great information. I’ve been struggling for years to get rid of my belly fat. Finally here is the information I needed and I’m looking forward to getting more helpful information from here. All the best.

    1. Hi Rudolf, I’m happy you’ve found some helpful information here. Do check up regularly, I’ll be writing more about the topic.

  8. I’m a man who once had a big tummy. It hasn’t disappeared completely but it is deflating slowly.

    Your explanation of what belly fat actually is was excellent and your suggestions for losing the belly was also taken on board.

    How come women don’t get the same barrel belly as men do ?

    1. Hi Roy, I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      To your question on why women don’t normally get pot bellies, the reason is that, fat is distributed differently in men than in women. Men tend to store excess fat in the abdominal region, and hence struggle more with belly
      fat than women. Women tend to store fat in their lower abdomen, thighs, buttocks and hips

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