As you may have heard, it’s Men’s Health Week, and this year the national campaign is focused on belly fat – the causes of it, the problems it brings and the possible solutions.
One aspect of male belly fat that shouldn’t be overlooked is its relationship with stress. Stress is one of the main causes of increased belly fat, and we often find ourselves trapped in a stressful cycle as our mental state affects our body, and being unhappy with our body takes its toll on our mental state. Here are our tips on how to stop this cycle in its tracks…
Cut comfort eating
Stress causes our bodies to produce the stress hormone Cortisol, which unfortunately can lead to weight gain around the abdomen – in other words, unwelcome belly fat.
In times of stress, it’s natural to reach for the snacks and over-indulge – we’ve all done it! But to banish belly fat, try making a conscious effort not to overeat when things get you down. Or failing that – switch up your snack of choice for a healthier option, like mixed nuts or a smoothie.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
Although it’s best not to overdo it, when it comes to cravings it’s ok to give in from time to time. Being too strict with your diet causes stress on your body and mind, resulting in the production of more Cortisol. You can curb your cravings but avoid a binge with clever tricks like just buying one cookie instead of a packet. Knowing when to stop is the key to cutting the Cortisol production before it gets out of hand. It’s all about finding a balance.
Release the stress through exercise
Exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental health. When your mind is stressed, the rest of your body feels the impact too. Exercising releases endorphins, the hormones that help to ease both emotional and physical pain. By exercising, you’re not just reducing your stress levels, you’re also working off the belly fat. Take a look at our article on how to foster better mental health and wellbeing through exercise to find out more.
Get more sleep
Lack of sleep has been proven to cause weight gain, as well as having a negative effect on your mental health. There are lots of things you can do to encourage a peaceful slumber; try quitting caffeine by midday and start relaxing at least an hour before you actually go to bed. Setting yourself a bedtime can also help your body achieve a natural sleep pattern, while simply doing something relaxing like reading a book could help distract you from getting stressed about your lack of rest. This will reduce the tension in your body, enabling you to drift off into a deep sleep.
Each of these methods is designed to reduce stress and belly fat, getting you into a positive cycle of wellness and improved peace of mind for a happier, healthier you.