The final two major factors contributing to the storage of abdominal fat are stress and lack of adequate sleep. High stress and/or insufficient or interrupted sleep raises cortisol levels. When cortisol levels are raised, it is difficult to lose abdominal fat even on a caloricly restricted diet. Many experts suggest 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for optimal health and recovery. While uninterrupted sleep may be difficult to achieve, (such as in the case of having an infant at home), there are variables that we can control.
Try following these simple steps to ensure the best sleeping environment:
1. No televisions in the bedroom.
2. Have a small balanced snack 60-90 minutes before bed.
3. Set and abide by a bedtime.
4. Limit alcohol intake or abstain.
5. Cut back on caffeine, especially late in the day.
6. Remove all light sources.
With regard to stress, most of you reading this blog are on the right path. Exercise is one of the very best stress relievers. However, stress comes from a variety of sources (beyond my area of expertise) and often requires a major overhaul of your lifestyle. If you suffer from high stress levels that are beyond your ability to control, I recommend that you seek help from a trained professional.
In conclusion, we cannot specifically target belly fat but we can optimize the ability of the body to lose fat from the abdominal region by keeping cortisol levels down. Fat loss comes from creating an energy deficit which should be achieved through a combination of diet and exercise. Adding muscle through weight training is like adding fuel to your metabolic fire.