Why you may not be losing that stubborn belly fat

Why you may not be losing that stubborn belly fat

Feeling like you’re doing everything right but that belly fat just isn’t budging? It could be a pesky little stress hormone known as cortisol. Flow Athletic director Ben Lucas explains how cortisol affects weight loss and what you can do about it.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that helps to regulate a wide range of processes in your body, including your metabolism and immune system. It is also one of the hormones that trigger your fight or flight response.

Cortisol is also raised when you exercise. This is normal and healthy, but it becomes unhealthy when your cortisol stays raised for an extended period of time and does not go back down to normal. It can result in weight gain, especially around your middle, as well as sleep issues, and mood swings.

In order to lose that stubborn belly fat and improve all of those areas in your life, you need to address the high cortisol, inflammation, and stress that you are subjecting your body and mind to.

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Reasons why your cortisol levels stay high

As mentioned, it is normal for your cortisol levels to fluctuate throughout the day, but it is not normal for it to remain raised for a long period of time.

It may remain raised for a number of reasons such as excess stress, emotional imbalances, poor sleep, shift work, overworking (mental and physical), excessive exercise, toxic exposure, injury, infection and the like.

How to reduce your cortisol and regain your health

First of all, consult a doctor or specialist in case your reason for excess cortisol is a medical or mental health reason or condition.


If you are highly stressed or inflamed, it is recommended that you do not participate in high impact training that will raise your already high cortisol levels further. Instead opt for yoga, stretching, a slow Pilates class, walking, or swimming.

Resistance training may also be recommended. Even though lifting heavy weights will increase cortisol, it also helps to regulate your insulin (blood sugar) levels which may be helpful.

Mental health

As cortisol can be raised due to being in stressful work or emotional environments, it is a good idea to put strategies into place to reduce that stress as best you can. The first step is to try to get a better night’s sleep, you may even want to start meditating as that is a great tool for helping you relieve stress. Also consider consulting a psychologist or another expert who can help in the areas that are making you stressed.

Additionally, if you are struggling to sleep, try turning off your devices 2-3 hours before bed, keep your lights dim, meditate, read something that is calming.


Eating a diet of foods that are inflammatory will not help if your body is already inflamed and it certainly won’t help your waistline.

Try to minimise processed foods, sugary foods and alcohol and maximise green leafy veggies, wholefoods, healthy protein options, water and other natural ingredients. Make sure you eat regular, healthy meals too as eating randomly will also be adding unnecessary stress to your body.

When it comes to keeping weight gain at bay, exercise is very important as is diet. What a lot of people don’t realise though is that their hormones, sleeping patterns and stress levels also play a role.

In order to have a healthy body and mind it helps to have a holistic approach to ensure that everything is working correctly and you can feel your best.

Ben Lucas is the director of Flow Athletic.

This article is published for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please consult a doctor.