There is no way I could do a cortisol blog series and not talk about belly fat. And more important than knowing that cortisol increases belly fat, is knowing how to get rid of it. And that’s where food comes in. So often when people think about belly fat, they automatically think diet and food restriction. In actuality, the stress of food restriction and yo-yo dieting can actually make the attempt to lose belly fat worse. I actually talked about this last week on the blog which you can read here. So instead of restriction, think about what can you add to your daily meals to create a more nutrient-dense meal plan.
In general, nutrient-dense foods have a high vitamin and mineral content in relation to the weight of that food. Following a nutrient-dense meal plan that is also appropriately proportioned with fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats is optimal to lower cortisol levels and as a result, reduce belly fat. In this post, we’ll explore the power of fermented foods, antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats in reducing belly fat and promoting radiant health.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods For Gut Health
While I recommend taking a probiotic, I also recommend incorporating fermented foods into your meal plan. Fermented foods use bacteria or yeast to break food down into simpler molecules so that the nutrients your body gets from the food are more readily absorbable. Fermentation essentially starts the digestion process early!
Some examples of fermented foods include Kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut. Try incorporating at least one fermented food in your meal plan daily. A balanced gut microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing belly fat, so try these foods to support a diverse and thriving community of beneficial bacteria in your gut. These probiotics not only aid digestion but also influence metabolism and inflammation, which also contribute to a flatter belly and lower cortisol.
Antioxidant-Rich Food To Reduce Inflammation
Chronic inflammation, perpetuated by cortisol, can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the belly area. Antioxidant-rich foods help combat inflammation and promote a balanced immune response. Incorporate colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach, kale, and bell peppers into your diet. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support weight management and the reduction of cortisol levels.
Fiber for Satiety and Digestive Health
Fiber is the unsung hero when it comes to taming belly fat and promoting digestive health. It provides a feeling of fullness that helps curb overeating and prevent unhealthy snacking. Whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice, as well as fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, and broccoli, are excellent sources of fiber. Not only does fiber support weight management, but it also aids in regulating blood sugar levels and promoting a healthy gut microbiome, both of which also help reduce belly fat.
Healthy Fats for Satiety and Hormonal Imbalances
Healthy fats are not the enemy; they are an essential component of a balanced diet that supports weight loss and overall health. Include in your meal plan sources of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon. These fats provide a feeling of satiety, helping you stay satisfied and prevent overeating. Moreover, they play a crucial role in hormone production and regulation, helping to keep cortisol low.
Hydration for Optimal Digestion and Metabolism
Not technically a food, but I couldn’t leave out water! Hydration is a critical factor in reducing belly fat. Drinking enough water throughout the day spports digestion, metabolism, and can reduce inflammation. It’s especially important when consuming fiber-rich foods, as water helps fiber expand in your stomach, promoting a feeling of fullness. Herbal teas, infused water, and consuming water-rich foods like cucumbers and watermelon can contribute to optimal hydration.
Incorporating these foods into your diet and drinking more water doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start by making small, sustainable changes and gradually increase your consumption of fiber, fermented foods, antioxidants, and healthy fats over time. Remember that balance is key – aim for a colorful plate filled with a variety of nutrient-rich foods to support your journey towards lower cortisol and a trim belly.
As you embark on this journey, be patient with yourself and celebrate every step you take toward a healthier lifestyle. With the right foods and a mindful approach, you’ll be well on your way to embracing a happier, healthier you.