When I look back at my “before” photos I now have a clearer understanding of why my body was the way it was. I have always been petite but even though I was eating healthily and working out, I had so many underlying issues in my gut that my body was under constant stress – which manifested itself physically by basically ballooning my midsection. Rob Yang is here to talk about this all too common issue!
Are you eating clean and exercising like crazy but still can’t get rid of that belly?! Do you stand in front of the mirror and wonder “why do I look so preggo?” Stress may be the roadblock to success. Yes, I sound like a broken record but it’s STRESS!!! If you’re that person that’s doing all the right things yet struggle to shed the belly fat and lose fat especially around the midsection – stress can’t be ignored.
You’ve heard of apples and oranges but how about apples and pears. Some women have what we call the apple shape body and while others appear to lean towards a pear shape. Over the years, I’ve seen many pear type bodies transform into an apple. Research has shown that the adipose tissue around the mid-section has a high density of cortisol receptors. The chronic high levels of stress continuously stimulate the cortisol receptors around the belly, leading to the dreaded muffin top.
However, it’s NOT all your fault. An often overlooked stressor is the belly (i.e. digestive tract). Whether you’re bloated, constipated or have stomach pain, your belly may be the source of your stress. More and more research is showing that the gut microbiome may impact weight loss.
The sheer number of cells in the GI tract tells you how important it is. The gut is home to 100,000,000,000,000 (that’s 100 trillion if you can’t count that high) microorganisms. Australian researchers have shown that the human gut is home to 10 times more bacteria than there are cells in the entire body! The gut is constantly at work whether you know it or not.
There’s a big difference between mental and emotional stress versus digestive dis-stress. When you go to sleep, you get a mental and emotional break from your boss, family, emails, etc. Unfortunately, if you’re harboring the wrong kind of friends (i.e. parasites, bacteria or yeast), your body is actively trying to get rid of these guys. (Can’t just unfriend or block like we do on social media)
The consequence of your body fighting off your “friends” is a production of IL-6. IL-6 is a immune messenger that is produced in times of mental, emotional and physical stress. It creates inflammation in the body and saturates IL-6 receptors in the midbrain. This stimulates a part of the spinal cord called the intermediolateral cell column (IML). This is critical to understand because the IML is what stimulates our sympathetic nervous system. Remember, you’re supposed to be sleeping and resting not fighting world war 3!
Since you’re sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system is triggered, you produce cortisol. This abnormally elevated cortisol level inhibits the release of melatonin. The lack of melatonin disrupts sleep. In addition, the adrenal glands release epinephrine and norepinephrine in this time of stress. This is why so many women wake up at 3am anxious and wonder why they can’t go back to sleep.
This leads to low energy levels which in turn won’t allow you to have good quality workouts to help you get rid of the belly. Since sleep is disrupted, growth hormone (GH) output is disrupted too. Remember, GH is your fat burning hormone. GH is what will help reduce your belly fat. Sleep is important!
The bigger perspective is that the IML at night should NOT be stimulated. That means when you’re sleeping at night, the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system should be the only thing that’s active, nothing else. But because your “friends” (i.e. parasites, bacteria or yeast) are still crashing the party your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is un necessarily stimulated at night. And with time this adds up and creates a snowball effect.
The consequence: little stressors that never really bothered you, bother you. This ends up triggering more cortisol release which further stimulates the belly cortisol receptors and tacks on belly fat. Are you getting this?
Gut issues can have a detrimental effect on your hormones and derail your progress. If you’re working out like crazy, eating according to your macros and even eating less and less calories, but still see that belly in the mirror, you may have gut issues that are stopping you from making progress, or, worse yet, causing you to gain weight.
In these cases, the answer is never an easy one but getting to the root cause of the problem is critical. In fact it’s the only way. I can’t stress (pun intended) this enough. If you would like an assessment of your gut and hormones, you can shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: @robertyang Facebook: @Robert Yang Inc. Twitter: @Robertyanginc