Not everybody likes to work out regularly – there are a lot of people who will never be able to enjoy sweating at the gym and flexing their hard-working muscles in the mirror. Despite that, many of them still try to do their best, week after week, fighting their sugar cravings and forcing themselves to get to the gym even when they’d rather binge-watch their favorite show. Yet, often enough, they fail to get the results they’ve wanted so bad and after all of those hours spent working out, they still have belly fat and love handles that seem to simply refuse to disappear.
We know what you’re thinking – it must be “well, the people who complain about not being able to shake off body fat simply don’t try hard enough!” But is this really true?
In reality, some layers of fat can be a lot harder to burn than others, and we all have our genetic predispositions that influence how much fat we store and in which places. Weight loss is determined by a myriad of complex processes which include hormone activity and specific lifestyle choices.
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t quit exercising, no matter how unsatisfied you are with the results at the moment because those exercise really is one of the backbones of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body weight. And the other one is eating a clean, well-balanced diet.
If you feel like you’ve been doing all the work but you still don’t have a shredded six-pack to show for it, there could be a good reason for that. More often than not, it’s our hormones that prevent us from getting the body of our dreams. Hormonal activity is an important driving force behind most bodily functions and hormonal imbalances can be a major obstacle to successful weight loss. And one thing that can directly affect your hormone production is the food you eat.
Read these 3 simple tips to learn how to manipulate your hormones in order to shake off your most despised fat pockets for good.
#1. Man Boobs Be Gone
Man boobs can destroy a guy’s confidence like nothing else in the world. If you’re a dedicated lifter struggling with fat storage in the pecs, you might be wondering if you’re a freak of nature – wasn’t rigorous exercise supposed to keep fat away from your body, especially the parts that you train the most? Well, yes, unless you’re producing too much estrogen or you’re having a testosterone conversion problem. These issues are very real and can make a man feel like less of a man without knowing the real nature of his ailments.
When too much of your testosterone is converting into estrogen, you can suffer from loss of energy, weight gain and difficulty adding lean muscle to your body. For men, the obvious sign of too much estrogen is added fatty tissue around the chest. But what makes some people convert more of their precious testosterone into estrogen than others?
It’s all the fault of an enzyme called aromatase. When you have too much of this enzyme, you convert more of your testosterone into estrogen, and that goes for both men and women. Bad diet choices, such as consuming too many carbs from refined, processed white flour and white sugar, cause the biggest surge in aromatase. So the first thing to do when fighting testosterone conversion is making some serious diet restrictions – cut out all the late night sugary snacks and treats and keep your daily intake of sugar at a minimum.
Another way to normalise your testosterone levels is by utilizing the powers of resveratrol. Resveratrol is a part of a group of compounds called polyphenols that are thought to act like antioxidants. Another big benefit of resveratrol is that it’s an aromatase inhibitor, meaning that it prevents testosterone from converting into estrogen. You can easily find resveratrol supplements on the market.
If you prefer getting things done in a natural way, you can simply increase your intake of cruciferous vegatables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale, which contain a phytochemical that also prevents the conversion of testosterone. The mineral zinc is also known to inhibit the aromatase enzyme, so making sure to meet your daily requirements of zinc can be helpful for restoring normal levels of testosterone.
#2. Handling the Love Handles
You’ve done a zillion sit-ups and dumbbell side bends and spent countless hours on the treadmill, yet your love handles seem to be glued to your body no matter what you do? Like with so many other things, the cause for this problem, as well as the solution, can be found in your diet.
Fat-burning workouts will have a minimal effect without adequate diet changes to complement them. No matter how much you train your abdominal muscles, there is no such thing as spot reduction, so until you create a diet plan that allows you to lower your overall percentage of body fat, your love handles aren’t going anywhere.
There are two hormones involved when love handles are around – insulin and cortisol. So the first thing that should come to your mind when struggling with the elimination of love handles is insulin resistance.
Love handles are recognized by physicians as an indicator of an imbalance in cortisol and insulin levels, which is why carrying weight around your gut is considered to be worse for your health than storing fat around your thighs. Elevated levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, can lead to increased fat storage around the gut. Insulin, on the other hand, acts as a chemical signal that allows sugar to enter your cells where it creates energy. And when the intake of sugar is too high, the excess of it will be stored as fat around your gut. But if you eat a diet mainly consisting of over-processed carbs for a prolonged period of time you will be at risk of developing insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance means that your blood levels of insulin are constantly elevated while the body tissues experience a reduced sensitivity to this hormone. That prevents insulin from doing its job, and the body tries to overcome the problem by secreting even more insulin from the pancreas. If this goes on for too long it can lead to type 2 diabetes, which usually has a physical manifestation as excess fat around the waist. So what can be done to prevent insulin resistance or reverse it?
Again, the answer lies in eliminating sugar from your diet. This can help normalize insulin levels and keep your blood sugar balanced. Furthermore, try to include a source of protein into every meal and snack, as protein can also help balance your blood sugar and it has a high thermic effect. Thirdly, increase your consumption of fatty fish that are rich in omega 3 fats, such as salmon and sardines. These foods also stimulate thermogenesis, enhance your metabolism and aid fat loss, and they can also help restore hormonal balance.
#3. The Battle of the Belly Bulge
Is belly fat blocking the view of your strong abs? Chances are you’re too stressed out and could use a testosterone boost. Although the most common reasons for excess belly fat are overeating and lack of physical exercise, even men who train regularly and try to eat a healthy diet can face this problem. Extra belly fat can indicate high estrogen, low testosterone, high insulin and high cortisol.
And the biggest trouble with this type of fat that it’s not limited to the extra layer located below the skin – it also includes visceral fat which lies deep inside the abdomen and surrounds internal organs. This type of fat has been shown to be associated with very serious health consequences such as raised blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, an excessive amount of visceral fat also boosts estrogen levels in both men and women. Therefore, getting rid of your belly bulge is important for more than aesthetic reasons.
The importance of reducing your sugar intake goes without saying here. Try switching to a paleo, keto or any other type of low-carb diet you think would best suit your lifestyle and stick with it for a while until you start seeing improvements. If you would rather not eliminate all carbs from your life, choose complex carbs instead of fast-digesting refined ones and make sure they make up no more than 30% of your diet. Also, bump up your protein intake.
Then, check your stress levels. Being chronically stressed can prevent your hormone levels from returning to normal and lead to a greater fat storage, so finding ways to manage everyday stress is crucial to your both mental and physical well-being. Don’t expect to succeed at losing weight if you’re constantly anxious and irritated because your messy hormonal activity will most likely prevent you from achieving your goal. Take some time for yourself each day, discover which activities relax you best and do them more often. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and try to adopt a more positive approach to life.
Next, get enough sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for normalizing hormone production, including testosterone levels. Having too much of anything can lead to trouble, so if you’re training too hard and too often, you can cause your testosterone production to dwindle instead of skyrocket. Don’t forget that rest and sleep are almost as important to maintaining a healthy weight as dieting and exercising.
Finally, lift weights few times per week. Cardio is great, but it’s not enough for effective weight loss or staying fit. Weightlifting, on the other hand, has the power to torch excess body fat, elevate your metabolic rate and keep it that way for longer and rebalance your hormones. It can improve your body composition, stimulate testosterone production, reduce the negative effects of stress and help you build the fortitude you need to have to fight off those pesky sugar cravings.
The journey to weight loss demands taking a closer look at your hormonal activity and resetting your hormones so that they can help you thrive and become fitter instead of blocking your efforts at leaning out. Luckily, almost anything can be achieved with the help of healthy food choices and an adequate amount of exercise. Remember that you are what you eat and each time you reach for that candy bar, remind yourself of the effect sugary snacks have on your hormones. And don’t let them ruin your gym efforts anymore. Good luck!