“Dr.Kim, how to lose belly fat?” was Barb’s first question to me. Barb is an AgeWellSolutions member who initially messaged me because she wanted to know how to lose belly fat. However, on her consultation call with me, she was very focused on her drop in energy.
We talked a lot about what that meant to her, and I decided that it was very likely that her energy issue was the root cause of her not being able to figure out how to lose belly fat.
Here’s her story and if you don’t relate, I have thrown in a ton of information that you will relate to.
This is her AFTER picture and if you want to see before you need to look at the weight loss products collection. To resume, I wanted to know about her energy levels on a scale of 1 to 10 in the morning, noon, mid-afternoon and evening. She had typical adrenal fatigue energy patterns, 5-6-3-6; the last one is the typical burst after dinner, but others can go DOWN if they are in worse shape.
Let’s do a quick review on adrenal fatigue (burnout). It is caused by physical or psychological stress or even ADHD medication or energy drinks. It makes the adrenal glands put out too much cortisol and epinephrine.
This is what causes the sleep issues, most commonly wake-ups and unrefreshed sleep.
Long term it depresses the immune system; please read more about this on the blog when you have a chance.
I did ask her to be checked out by her “real life” doctor to rule out thyroid issues, anemia, etc.
Of course, these issues were all fine. Furthermore, her doctor never heard of adrenal fatigue! Notably, even Dr.Oz knows about it!
I also asked the following:
Are you sleeping well enough to function day to day or not? What are your sleep issues? How is your sleep environment?
Barb had moderate sleep hygiene, needed a better pillow (which we got her; see store) and made some other changes too.
Q: Are you exercising regularly? A: WANT TO. Definitely want more lean body mass.
Q: Are you at your ideal weight? A: NO
Q: Are you feeling stressed? A: SOMEWHAT
Q: Are you feeling depressed at all? A: NO (Good!)
(Because loss of energy is very multi-factorial, to fix it, I always need to know all of the things that are being affected).
So, Barb was very concerned about her inability to learn how to lose belly fat after she had her last baby later in life than most women.
She figured it was just from “hormones” and by dieting more, and more it would just go away. She is a single mom and felt the usual “pangs” leaving her little daughter to return to her corporate law job where she wanted to make partner. At work, she was also always pushed to work more and more. So, physical and psychological stresses were high.
In addition, as with most people who have adrenal fatigue or burnout, she was self-medicating with waaaay too much caffeine, worsening her situation. She did say, as do MOST women, she wanted to lose 10-15 lbs of body fat as well.
Still, she was just so tired from everything. In fact, she continued to ask me when she would get good sleep. I told her sleep “fixes” tend to progress the slowest. To demonstrate, here is a rundown of how the adrenals “do it.” First, energy would improve; she’d be able to exercise so that would reduce stress and help her sleep. Next, the wake-ups would diminish, but not stop completely. After this, she would wake up more refreshed. Lastly, all the wake-ups would “go.”
What causes an abundance of body fat, especially belly fat? Nope, not beer!
Of course, we have been over and over the fact that you need to eat a healthy diet. So, search this blog and find all sorts of things on weight loss and healthy eating to drop body fat and learn exactly how to lose belly fat. In addition, while you do this you will, of course, become healthier which is great, right?
Special tricks include doing the ketogenic version of my anti-inflammatory diet , hydrating a lot so urine is crystal clear and eating enough fiber or supplementing with a good fiber supplement.
Food composition (foods high in bcaa’s) has recently been shown to work best to create lean body mass. Therefore, you will have better luck if you are using bcaa powder supplements, acetyl l carnitine, and the whey protein too!
Notably, all of this helps you to lose weight. However, of all of the things we can do to stay young and healthy, it would be a whole new world if everyone would just eat correctly and supplement properly.
Barb understood this and got right on the eating plan. She started the AWS red/green superfood drinks to improve her oxidative stress. What is O.S. and do you have it? Just take the quiz on the home page! She “got” that just doing this would make weight loss easier, make her healthier and even look younger too! Eating well, as we tell everyone is the first step in good anti aging skin care.
Now, this is no surprise, right? However, wait to do this until I talk about energy and sleep because if you go full tilt, you could worsen belly fat. Barb said “WHAT? How could exercise make it worse?” Trust me; it could at the beginning of treatment of all of this! I’ll tell you in a minute that it can hinder the ability to lose weight and belly fat. I promise it will all make sense!
Now let’s talk about the things specifically associated with belly fat and not just body fat…OK?
Barb definitely had adrenal fatigue, no question about it. She was pushing herself emotionally, physically, with her career and new daughter. She was doing the usual pick-me-up of energy drinks which are just plain lethal for the adrenals. In fact, energy drinks make the adrenals produce toxic cortisol levels which further impede energy and sleep.
Yep, found out she WAS drinking energy drinks too! Why do they sell these things?! To resume, did you get that? CORTISOL, made by the adrenal glands, is the biggest reason people put on excess belly fat? So, lowering cortisol is a big way how to lose belly fat, right?
I’ll also answer the exercise question. Exercise also increases cortisol and adrenaline. As a result, during the initial stages of AF, I ask members to walk their dogs at a moderate pace, and that’s it.
We reviewed sleep hygiene; I “took away” her Ipad in bed routine. I also started her on “adrenal support.”
We did a caffeine wean. To elaborate, don’t stop caffeine abruptly as it can cause withdrawal headaches. Instead, wean by a cup every 3-5 days. Do the same with those nasty energy drinks too!
Can anything ELSE cause belly fat?
In some women, there exist high estrogen levels which are estradiol and estriol pre-menopause. These women tend to have excess body fat, large breasts and hips and long, heavy periods. They are “estrogen dominant.” Usually, just weight loss will solve the problem as estrogen levels are cranked up by having lots of fat cells.
To explain, this means belly fat may be higher on “high-estrogen” women but these women (not Barb) tend to have more weight to lose, and the belly fat will come off as the weight comes off. Moreover, the estrogen levels will go down. Got it? However, it gets more complicated than this. Are you ready?
The women I referred to above are pre-menopausal women. The belly fat tends to be more evenly distributed. Now, here is where it gets a bit tricky. Not to mention, your Gyn will not know this either. Belly fat occurring post-menopausally is more of the norm and here is why.
When you are menopausal, you know your estrogen drops, correct?
The stress hormone cortisol “wants” to put belly fat on you and the main hormone that opposes this “deposition” is estrogen with the secondary opposition from progesterone which goes down pre-menopause and more in menopause.
To clarify, during menopause, the reason most women develop menopausal belly fat is due to rising stress and cortisol levels coupled with dropping estradiol and progesterone levels.
Hence, you’ll make belly fat if your estradiol and progesterone drop as your cortisol rises. Again, this is most typical in menopause but can be reversed! (How to’s are below).
What about men here?
In men, the enzyme aromatase converts testosterone to estradiol. Yes, this is an estrogen. Men need some estrogen just as women need some testosterone. Usually, levels are not increased unless the man is on testosterone supplementation without an “aromatase inhibitor.”
However, as men age, their livers don’t tend to process estradiol quite as well, and these levels can go up. All it takes is a simple measurement and treatment. (Note: If you are a male and are reading this or if you are a female and note that your partner is having loss of libido and or E.D., THIS may be the cause. Make sure your doctor checks a testosterone, free testosterone, and estradiol level.) Now, back to Barb!
After eight weeks, Barb was sleeping through the night. In fact, her energy was an 8; she was back in the gym and on her way to a more balanced and healthy life with me! She was down a healthy 8 lbs too. I honestly discourage body hate, but she saw her “gross fat belly” was getting flat again.
More news on how to lose belly fat – not just how to decrease body fat in general:
Many people struggle with trying to learn how to lose belly fat, and some give up the battle with the idea that it is all due to genetics and impossible to fight. In reality, there are three main reasons for lingering belly fat:
Stress hormones pack it on and if stress symptoms are out of control, so is cortisol. If that is the case you need “adrenal support”; 2 adrenothrive and 2 of the adrenal glandulars (fusion) AM and noon-2 PM daily. (See the adrenal health section of the store.)
Estrogen and progesterone levels are too low as well. I would suggest a consultation with a board certified Anti-aging doctor such as myself regarding bioidentical hormones. Diets are just plain awful. Instead, stick to a healthy eating plan, and you can alternate ketotic with a nonketotic version of my anti-inflammatory diet. Or, you can just do a nutritional ketosis diet; plain and simple.