Large number of studies shows that stress causes abdominal fat, even in people who are otherwise thin. Researchers at Yale University, found slender women who had high cortisol also had more abdominal fat. More results published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000, established a link between cortisol and increased storage of abdominal fat.
Sleep deprivation - makes us wake up with higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which fuels appetite and increases our cravings, particularly for sugary and carb-laden treats, even when we have eaten enough. Not only does poor sleep pack on pounds, good sleep actually helps you to lose weight by influencing the hormones that control your appetite and increase your metabolism.
The impact of sleep deprivation and hormones and metabolism - a 2004 study at University of Chicago Medical Center found sleep deprivation alters the circulating level of the hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite it boosts leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating.
Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine found that subjects who had only five hours of sleep per night experienced an increase in their BMI, regardless of diet and exercise. Also, if your blood sugar levels are on a roller coaster all day, you can bet your cortisol is as well.
Solution: Sleep enough and eat at the right times. You must sleep at least 7.5 to 9 hours per night. You can reduce the stress associated with blood sugar imbalance by eating a high protein breakfast within one hour of rising and avoiding more than a 3-4 hour gap between meals or snacks.
3. High Estrogen: Abdominal fat in men increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. As estrogen levels rise, so does the tendency to accumulate more abdominal fat, fuelling the situation. The risk of prostate cancer also increases with higher estrogen levels.
A premenopausal woman with high levels of estrogen (also known as estrogen dominance) will likely have PMS, too much body fat around the hips and difficulty losing weight. Menopausal women and men, may experience low libido, memory loss, poor motivation, sadness, loss of muscle mass, and increased belly fat.
4. Low Testosterone: Testosterone is a hormone which keeps a man's muscles and bones strong and maintains his interest in sex. A decrease in sex drive after the age of 30 accompanies the drop in testosterone which is simply due to getting older, obesity and stress, but today men are experiencing testosterone decline much earlier in life. This is quite an alarming finding, considering low testosterone has been linked to depression, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and even death.
Researchers from the University of Washington found that men with low testosterone are more likely to develop a potbelly and other body fat.
5. Low DHEA: DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is a precursor to estrogen and testosterone and also helps to counteract the negative effects of cortisol. Often touted as the anti-aging hormone, DHEA influences our ability to lose fat and gain muscle. It boosts libido and helps us feel motivated, youthful and energetic.
6. Low Human Growth Hormone: This omnipotent hormone affects just about every cell in the body and has a major impact on our feelings, actions and appearance. Growth hormone is released during deep sleep and while we exercise. It’s essential for tissue repair, muscle building, bone density, and healthy body composition.
A 2007 study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism linked abdominal obesity in postmenopausal women with low growth hormone secretion, elevated inflammatory markers and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Solution: When we sleep in total darkness, melatonin is released, triggering a very slight but critical cool-down in the body. As body temperature drops, growth hormone is released and works its regenerative magic. If we sleep with lights on or eat too close to bedtime, the natural cool-down process will not take place, putting us at risk of low levels of both melatonin and growth hormone. By sleeping in a cool room in pitch darkness, and including short intense 30-minute strength-training sessions three times a week, you can naturally boost growth hormone levels.