CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
I don't seem to be able to flatten my belly. I have lost about 20 pounds (still have 15 to go), but my belly is the same. In fact, it almost looks worse because I'm losing everywhere but my belly. I've read about cortisol and somehow it is supposed make us have big bellies if we have too much of it. Can you explain how this works? Also, how can I lose this fat around my middle? Thank you. -- Colleen
Just know you are not alone in this battle of the bulge. These days, belly fat captures so much attention that it's plastered on the covers of most health and fitness magazines. It has also spawned new names such as muffin top, which is what belly fat morphs into once it's squished inside low-rise pants. Make no mistake, belly fat is one hot topic now that it has been linked to the hormone cortisol.
However, I find it kind of crazy that some would like us to believe cortisol and only cortisol is behind every morsel of belly fat hanging onto America's middle. While there is a distinct connection between cortisol levels and belly fat, it shouldn't be demonized and expected to shoulder all the blame for belly fat.
Face it: Poor diets, too many calories and too little exercise are the real reasons behind belly fat. Furthermore, physical activity and weight management go a long way toward decreasing determined belly fat.
Still, understanding the role cortisol plays in fat accumulation and distribution is important and actually pretty interesting.
What's up with cortisol?