Still dealing with that stubborn layer of fat on your stomach?
If it feels like no matter what you do, you can’t shed the weight, or that you always lose weight everywhere except the places that matter (stomach, hips, and love handles), the real reason you’re having this problem may have nothing to do with your diet or workout program.
Keep reading as I explain what’s holding you back.
The Dangerous Hormone Called Cortisol
The problem at play here may not be that you are eating too many calories or not exercising enough, it may in fact be quite the opposite.
But before you learn about that, you need to understand cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone in the body. When most people think of it, they tend to imagine someone facing extreme work or financial demands.
But, the body can secrete cortisol for a number of reasons, often without you even realizing it.
In fact, many of the things you are doing right now that you think are ‘right’ for losing fat, are actually causing you to have more cortisol surging through your veins.
What does cortisol do?
When it's secreted in short bursts, it’ll promote the breakdown of fat (mainly) and lean muscle mass tissue (a little bit).
But, when cortisol is chronically elevated, it will make you gain body fat around the midsection and lose a lot of muscle.
So, as you can see, the goal is to keep cortisol from being elevated for prolonged periods of time.
What Causes Cortisol To Stay Elevated?
First, intense dieting can. Taking your calorie intake too low puts a great deal of stress on the body and will cause cortisol levels to go up.
If you have been eating in a moderate-large calorie deficit for longer than 6-8 weeks without taking any sort of diet break, you can rest assured that your cortisol is higher than it should be.
Second, cortisol can also shoot up when your carb intake is too low, especially if you follow a effective training program that incorporates strength training and some fat blasting intervals.
You see, when you train hard and build a badass bikini body, you burn a combination of carbs and fat in your workout.
The carbohydrates, however, are what allow you to bring intensity to your training.
If you aren’t replacing the ones you burn, you’re basically trying to drive your car all day on an empty tank, and you’ll eventually burn out.
Your body responds to this burnout by ramping up, and keeping up, its cortisol levels.
What’s the solution? Stop starving yourself and never completely ditch the carbs.
This may mean eating carbs every day, or just on the days you workout (I explain the best approach in my nutrition guide).
Another issue that can bump up cortisol is hours and hours of cardio training.
Far too many of you get into the habit of performing five or more hours of cardio each week, thinking it’ll help you burn fat.
In reality, it often does the opposite. You burn through lean muscle and increase abdominal fat because of hormonal effects of the cardio (ie. chronic increases in cortisol).
Remember that the most effective approach for fat loss includes:
- A strength and performance based training program and
- A diet that supports those workouts
And those two things do not include severe calorie deficits, zero carbs, and hours of cardio.
(If you want to know more about what it actually takes, discover the truth about fat loss with your free ebook HERE).
The Final Piece: Stress
Finally, simply being too stressed can also elevate your cortisol.
If you’re stressed about…
- Being hungry all day
- Finding the time to cook and prepare your meals
- How you’ll ever have enough energy to do your workouts in the gym on such a low calorie/carb intake
Your cortisol will be through the roof!
You can see how it all compounds together in a vicious circle.
So what can you do to put a stop to this?
Take four steps:
- Increase your calorie intake to a moderate deficit and take a diet break when you feel like you’re stuck after 4-8 weeks of lower calories.
- Be sure to consume at least 100 grams of carbs a day – preferably bumping that up to 125-150 grams on hard training days
- Minimize moderate intensity cardio; add interval training if you must, balanced with smart resistance exercise
- Chill out – realize the more you stress about everything, the fewer results you’ll see.
If you can follow these four steps, you might just be surprised at how much easier those final few pounds around your midsection come off.
P.S. If you’re sick of trying to put all the pieces together on your own, you can get the workouts and nutrition taken care of for you.
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