It’s a well-known fact that chronic stress can wreck havoc on your body. But did you know that it can also make you fat? During periods of continuous tension, cortisol— the body’s main stress hormone—is released in soaring amounts. Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning, sharply drop until afternoon and gradually fall to their lowest point in the evening. However, during demanding times, cortisol remains elevated throughout the day, resulting in increased hunger levels and escalated cravings for junk food, even when your system doesn’t require nourishment. In addition, never-ending unease alters the main fuel source that your body uses turning it into a sugar burner as opposed to a fat burner. When fat isn’t being burned, it is being produced. Persistent anxiety leads to the development of stubborn belly fat.
The Two Types Of Fat (All Fats Are Not Created Equal)
There are two types of fat in the body:
- Subcutaneous fat is stored between the skin and the muscles. This is the fat that you can grab with your hand.
- Visceral or Belly (Abdominal) fat accumulates around the organs, especially the liver and lies deep within the abdominal cavity. This is the more precarious and serious of the two types and causes a variety of health concerns.
Health Risks Associated With Visceral Fat
Potbellies are not only unappealing; they actually lead to dangerous medical conditions as well. Visceral fat is linked to high blood pressure cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, breast, endometrial and colorectal cancers. This type of fat produces cytokines-a hormone with known inflammatory properties, which promotes tumor growth, aging and athererosclerosis. Affecting liver function as well, abdominal fat is directly associated with higher total cholesterol, elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) decreased HDL (good cholesterol) and insulin resistance which heightens the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Losing Visceral Fat
Reduce visceral fat by adhering to a diet comprised mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats and monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats along with participating in a regular aerobic exercise regime.
Yoga Poses That Help Reduce Visceral Fat
Practicing yoga on a regular basis can help reduce visceral fat by lowering stress levels. These yoga poses target the abs and can tone the belly for a firmer, leaner appearance:
- Boat pose - Strengthens core and tones abs.
- Cow Cat Pose - works the transverse abdominis, the deepest muscle in the abdominal wall. The transverse keeps the belly flat, prevents back strain and improves posture.
- Standing Twist - Performed slowly, this works the abdominal region for more efficient fat burning.
- Savasana - relaxation can help manage stress and help eliminate excess belly fat.