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Get Rid of Unwanted Belly Fat in the New Year!

Get Rid of Unwanted Belly Fat in the New Year!

So maybe you have been doing the right things…you have been eating more fruits and vegetables, you have cut out the sweets and the bread, and you have even been drinking more water, but you still have extra weight around your middle.  What are you missing?  Why won’t doesn’t your waist ever shrink?  You keep trying to play by the rules yet you aren’t getting results.  Arrrgh!

 It is time to start thinking about what may be driving this phenomenon as this impacts a good number of people that I see.  It is much more complicated than calories in, calories out (most of know by now that this does not pan out.)  There are complicated processes happening in our bodies that react to all kinds of input.

In my practice, the number one thing that patients complain about is stress. “Doc, I am so stressed.”  “You have no idea how much stress I am under.”  “Every day is stressful.”  Stress is a huge driving force in the American lifestyle.

So, what does stress do to your body?  It revs up your nervous system.  Adrenaline is our short-term stress hormone.  It is released to help you run away from a lion when you need that “fight or flight” reaction to save your life.  It is a good thing if you are being chased by a wild animal, but most people are dealing with psychological stress, and you can’t really run away from that.  I will write another day about the effect of cortisol which is the long-term stress hormone which is a long story in itself.

But back to adrenaline…it causes your body to move blood away from the digestive system toward your arms and legs so you can start running.  If you are going to run away you need energy to fuel your escape, so your liver converts glycogen to glucose (sugar) and dumps this into your blood stream.  Guess what…your blood sugar shoots up!  So, then since you really aren’t running from danger (you are more likely just sitting at your desk), the body then has to release insulin to drive the sugar back into your cells.  Insulin is a fat storage hormone (it drives belly fat), so you don’t want a big burst of sugar and insulin.  And, to top it off, this outpouring of insulin will set you up for a blood sugar crash a little later and you will start craving sugary treats to counteract this effect.

Now, here is the kicker…caffeine also causes adrenaline to be released (you know how you feel your heart race and you feel a little more amped up.)  So, not only does stress start this cascade, the beverage many of us use to deal with stress and fatigue, makes the whole process worse!  You already know that if you get a venti mochachino with extra whipped cream you are getting a lot of sugar (and calories) but even those of you drinking black coffee are still creating an insulin response in your body just from the caffeine alone. 

So, here is what I am getting at.  Just eating a pretty good diet isn’t always enough to get rid of belly fat.  Stress plays a huge role in weight and it is further complicated by caffeine.  Here is my encouragement for 2013:  think about what role caffeine plays in your life and start cutting back.  Eliminating (or greatly reducing) caffeine may prove to be the missing link for you to conquer your belly fat.  Caffeine also impacts sleep and other body processes that are key for stress management and healing.  So, take a look at your coffee mug, be honest with yourself, and start making changes.  You may be surprised by the rewards.






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