Everybody has a six pack.
Even the most overweight, obese person you ever saw has a rippling six-pack of pure muscle in their midsection.
Trouble is, in most cases that six-pack (the rectus abdominis muscle) is buried deep down under a layer of fat that hides the muscles from public view and keeping them both out of sight and out of mind.
Many people believe that performing endless rep after rep of crunches or situps or, indeed ANY of the popular ‘core’ exercises, will somehow miraculously burn away excess fat from the abdominal region but the reality is quite a bit different.
Whilst an element of spot reduction from exercise may be possible, the greater contribution of fat burned during an exercise comes from the overall fat supply within the body rather than from one site alone.
So trying to show off your six-pack with endless crunches is a waste of time.
Sure, you’ll make the area stronger and create greater endurance (both worthy goals in themselves) but you can be sure that the fat sitting over your stomach won’t be going anywhere as a result of your efforts.
But that doesn’t mean that spot reduction is impossible altogether.
In fact, it’s not only possible but probable if your approach it from a different perspective… such as that of your hormones.
You see, where you lay your fat stores down is directly related to the action of your hormones, meaning that you can predict how balanced or imbalanced your hormones are by looking at where you hold your fat.
For example, if you find that your belly fat is a problem, chances are that your cortisol levels are markedly elevated due to increased stress levels and/or lack of sleep.
This is because fat cells in the abdominal area have a higher concentration of cortisol receptors than elsewhere, meaning that whenever cortisol is elevated, these receptors ‘call out’ to cortisol and fill up with cortisol-related fat.
If the subcutaneous (under the skin) storage of fat wasn’t bad enough, things get even worse when you consider the role of a very special yet little known (even among fitness professionals!) organ that LOVES cortisol-related fat.
This organ is called the Greater Omentum and it lives behind the abdominals muscles just in front of your internal organs.
The Omentum is a kind of specialised ‘band-aid’ that serves to seal of any punctures to the abdominal wall or internal organs but it also serves as a kind of ‘toxic mop’ when internal toxicity is high as well as having a high affinity for cortisol.
For this reason, diets that are high in processed foods or toxins or lifestyles that are highly stressed lead to the organ getting expanded and ‘bloated’.
Just look at the omentum in Dr Oz’s hands compared to the one Oprah is holding to see what I mean.
Imagine all of that in your abdominal cavity BEHIND your abs. You’d develop a large, hard, swollen belly even if your superficial fat isn’t that high.
You’ve seen this, right?
Big, round bellies that are (usually) quite hard and are nearly always resistant to calorie restrictive diets and exercise.
Because this organ has nothing to do with excess calories at all. It cannot and will not reduce until the diet is clean and the stress that the body is undergoing is addressed and reduced.
In relation to your abdominal fat this means doing 2 things above all else.
1. Eat clean – This means avoiding all foods that act as a stressor upon the body. That includes alcohol, sugar, chemical additives like MSG, aspartame and food colourings and many ‘reactive’ foods such as dairy, wheat and gluten.
2. Reduce The Stressors – Cortisol is secreted in response to stress. ALL stress!
This means emotional stress, physical stress, psychological stress, thermic stress (being too hot or too cold), nutritional stress, hydration/dehydration stress, hormonal stress and pretty much any other kind of stress you can think of.
Whenever one of these triggers is ‘set off’, cortisol is released and, among MANY other responses abdominal (both subcutaneous and visceral) fat is laid down.
The only real answer to this is to REDUCE those triggers. Both their frequency and their intensity.
One VERY simple way of accomplishing lower cortisol levels is to commit to getting to bed by 10.00 – 10.30pm at least 5 nights a week.
This, more than any other step you could take would have the biggest impact on your body’s stress control mechanism and cortisol related fat as your hormonal balance reasserts itself. You see, high cortisol means low thyroid, low growth hormone and low testosterone, all of which are important drivers of metabolism.
When these are low your whole body is on a ‘go-slow’ from a metabolic perspective meaning that it becomes very easy to store fat. A nice double-whammy from a fat-gaining perspective, right?
This alone will take care of so many of the cortisol effects your body is undergoing and yield, on average, anything from 3-5lbs of EXTRA weight loss in the next week even without making changes to your exercise plan or cutting calories.
Try it for 5 days and you’ll see for yourself just how important this is.
You can also help to bring your cortisol down by supplementing with Ayurvedic supplements like Ashwaghanda and Rhodiola and taking magnesium and zinc supplements in the 90 minutes before bed.
Not only will you find it easier to get to sleep but your sleep will be deeper and you’ll awaken more refreshed too as you’ll have allowed your hormones to do what they’re supposed to do naturally.
Of course, it should also be obvious that you need to reduce stimulants such as coffee, tea and caffeine containing sodas and replace them with green tea and Tulsi tea which is an excellent cortisol lowering Ayurvedic tea.
See how much belly fat you can lose in the next 7 days by adopting a few of these principals.