Three Ways to Reduce the "Belly Fat Hormone"

Jack Elliott
Jack Elliott
· 2 min read
Personal trainer in workout clothes

Three Ways to Reduce the “Belly Fat Hormone”

Cortisol, also known as the “belly fat or death hormone”, typically gets a bad rap. However, knowing how to control it can be very beneficial because it helps you regulate other key hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, and your thyroid.

Cortisol’s job is to protect us. It’s produced by the adrenal glands whenever our bodies experience too much mental or physical stress, also known as the “fight or flight” response. If you’re constantly stressed out or exercise too much the adrenal glands can release excessive amounts of cortisol, which can lead to more belly fat, fatigue, insomnia, and a host of other problems. However, if you learn how to control cortisol you can prevent this from happening.

Your cortisol levels should be high in the morning and should taper off throughout the day until it’s time for bed. Maintaining this cycle will lead to higher energy levels, healthier hormone balance, more efficient fat loss, and better sleep patterns.

Here are 3 ways to control your belly fat hormone: 

  1. Carb Backloading
Examples of carbs that personal trainers eat

In a 2014 clinical trial, subjects with cortisol disruption were able to “reset” their natural cortisol cycle simply by eating a low carb diet in the morning and afternoon, while eating higher amounts of healthy carbs in the evening. Of course, eating the wrong carbs at night will have the opposite effect so make sure you’re eating the right types of carbs such as root vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, whole grain bread, or steel cut oats. I know this goes completely against conventional wisdom, but here is why it works so well: Carbs elevate blood sugar forcing the pancreas to make more insulin to manage the blood sugar spike. When insulin is elevated cortisol levels automatically decrease. So as insulin goes UP, cortisol goes DOWN, helping correct any cortisol imbalance you may have.

  1. Control Your Sleep Hormone
Personal trainer sleeping

Going from eight hours of sleep to six hours of sleep has been shown to cause a huge disruption to your cortisol cycle in less than two weeks. Cortisol works in tandem with melatonin, your sleep hormone. If your cortisol drops in the evening, like it’s supposed to, melatonin can take over, helping you fall into a deep sleep. If cortisol levels are elevated while you sleep, your body can’t recover or rebuild and you’ll wake up feeling fatigued. Make sure you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night by avoiding electronics and stressful activities an hour or two before bed.

  1. Strategic Exercise Bursts
Personal trainer running

When cortisol levels are chronically elevated it can put you at risk for heart disease, cancer and excess visceral belly fat (the most DEADLY kind of body fat). To avoid prolonged periods of elevated cortisol, complete exercise in short bursts and at times when cortisol levels are higher anyway (e.g., in the morning). 

While doing all this try your best to stay to your macronutrients and calories for your goals.

Where to find out more

Any questions? Get in touch with Jack, a leading personal trainer in London, via his profile or website to find out how he can help you to reach your health and fitness goals.