Functional Medicine is also known as Systems Medicine because treatment focuses on healing your Systems Biology.

The Truth Behind Your Belly Fat

Are you someone that can’t seem to lose the unwanted fat around your waistline?  Does it seem like no matter what you do, trimming the mid-section is a never-ending battle?

It is unarguably one of the most common complaints driving women into my office.  The truth is that belly fat is very different than fat found in other places like the hips, thighs, and legs.  When it comes to belly fat, it’s important to understand the role of fat storage hormones.  The reality is that if these hormones are not balanced, it won’t matter how many calories you count or how hard you work-out.

Understanding FAT STORAGE Hormones

Insulin – the fat storing hormone produced to control your blood sugar.  Basically, the more sugar you consume, the more insulin your body produces.  High levels of insulin are  not only oxidizing and inflammatory, they are undeniably associated with weight -loss resistance especially around the waist.

Cortisol – an adrenal hormone produced when you are under stress.  Persistently elevated levels of cortisol is linked to increased storage of abdominal fat.  Understand that a busy, hectic lifestyle is stressful.   More coffee, more errands to run, more projects to complete, eating the wrong types of food, and even too much exercise and physical stress can work against you when you are trying to slim down.   Your body metabolizes, digests, does its checks & balances when you are relaxed, calm, and resting!

Leptin – the satiety hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough.  Because fat cells secrete leptin, overweight people should never feel hungry.  Unfortunately, the reverse happens.  Excess fat secretes too much leptin, bombarding leptin receptors on cells.  Eventually these cells shut down their leptin receptors to protect themselves.  This is called leptin resistance – leptin can no longer get into the cells to deliver their message that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating!

In other words, insulin resistance, excessive levels of cortisol, and leptin resistance vexes the  person by promoting fat storage and making it tough to lose weight.  A simple blood test can measure most of these hormones.  A saliva test is the preferred way to assess cortisol levels.

Ferret out Food Intolerances to reduce Fat-promoting Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has also been associated with stubborn weight-loss. One of the most common causes of chronic inflammation is a sensitivity or intolerance to a food. Many people have food sensitivities and don’t realize it. The most common sensitivity is to gluten, the protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and oats. A food sensitivity panel or elimination diet can tell you which foods are causing inflammation.  Many people lose weight simply by removing the offending food.

 Don’t forget to Get your SLEEP!

Realize that poor sleep habits can dramatically take its toll on your hormone balance.  For instance, chronic sleep deprivation raises cortisol levels.   Cortisol tells the body it needs more energy to meet the demands of stress, which causes an increase of hunger and cravings.   To top it off, sleep deprivation decreases leptin.  So it’s a double whammy, lack of sleep both increases hunger and inhibits the ability to feel full. The result is a natural inclination to eat more, and more frequently. Adding insult to injury is that the body burns most of its calories during REM, the deeply restful stage of sleep when you dream. Unfortunately, weight gain due to sleep deprivation doesn’t only happen slowly over time. Research shows just a few nights of sleep deprivation can pack on pounds.

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