cortisolIf you’re struggling to lose weight from your stomach area your cortisol levels could be out of balance.

Cortisol is a hormone and its key role is to help control blood sugar levels, which in turn helps control the body’s metabolism. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. If your cortisol levels are out of balance your body will hold on to its fat stores, particularly around the stomach, rather than use that fat as energy.

The main things that affect your cortisol levels are diets high in carbohydrates, sweets and processed foods. High stress levels on the body will also have an effect and I don’t just mean stresses such as work. The body also reads ill health, lack of sleep and even exercise as stress.

What can you do about it?

  • Avoid all ‘white’ starchy carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta etc. which are linked to weight gain and higher levels of body fat.
  • Stay away from sweets, process foods and fizzy drinks (even the diet ones).
  • Eat a protein rich breakfast like an omelette or quinoa with fruit to regulate your blood sugar level and keep you fuller for longer.
  • Don’t avoid fat. Healthy fats such as those found in nuts, olives, avocado and fish help your body function well and support weight loss.
  • Aim to drink 2 litres of water a day so you don’t confuse thirst with hunger.
  • Calm down! Try to give yourself 5 – 10 minutes each day to totally relax and let your mind go blank.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Exercise using HIIT (high intensity interval training) to create a fat burning environment. When you exercise at high intensity adrenalin and cortisol are released but it’s the additional release of testosterone and human growth hormone that will help get your body burning fat rather than storing it round your middle.