We all know that Valentine’s Day is not the only day we should be showing our significant other that we care. Intimacy is a crucial component to a fulfilling relationship, but there are many factors that can contribute to a loss of libido, and belly fat is just one of them. This is the scenario of imbalance: high estrogen, low testosterone, low DHEA, high insulin and high cortisol, all of which also happen to affect your libido and your confidence in the intimacy department. Abdominal fat also sets a risky stage for aging, increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes – so if your appearance or heart health isn’t enough to encourage you to get back in shape, maybe the loss of your “mojo” will.
In addition to proper supplementation, a program to get rid of belly fat must include proper diet, exercise, sleep and motivation. All of these components work well to instil a healthy balance that allows fat loss to occur, but let’s talk more specifically about each of the hormonal players in this process:
- High insulin = increased abdominal fat: Over-consumption of sugar and carbohydrates leads to an increase in the release of insulin. Insulin sends the signal for the body to store energy from food as fat if it is not used as fuel. If insulin levels are chronically high, you will have increased storage of fat, especially around the abdomen. Chronically high levels of insulin can also lead to a pre-diabetic condition called metabolic syndrome (or insulin resistance) and type 2 diabetes. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) along with a balance between protein, good fats and low glycemic carbohydrates will help to correct this.
- High cortisol = increased abdominal fat: Persistently elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are very detrimental to your health as well as to your body composition. Not only does it increase your appetite and cravings, it causes a loss of muscle mass, libido and bone density and also contributes to depression and memory loss. Stress is not something to be overlooked or accepted as the norm. Consider taking relora or phosphatidylserine, which work to reduce cortisol levels.
- 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 blood or saliva test can assess your levels; if levels are high, consider a product called indole-3-carbinol, or my Clear Detox Hormonal Health formula which helps to rid the body of excess negative estrogen and correct the balance of estrogen to testosterone.
- Low testosterone: Testosterone levels decrease as abdominal fat coverts it to estrogen, and also decreases with increasing stress. While you are under stress your body will tend to make more stress hormone (cortisol) than testosterone. Furthermore, researchers from the University of Washington found that men with low testosterone are more likely to develop a potbelly and other body fat. The researchers also found that testosterone may actually prompt the loss of body fat when deficient levels are replaced. Other signs that you may have low testosterone levels include a loss of muscle tissue and decreased strength, depression, stamina, drive and motivation. If you have your testosterone levels measured with a blood test, be sure to ask that both free and total testosterone be measured. The majority of testosterone is bound to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) making it inactive. The herb Tribulus terrestris may help raise levels by reducing the binding of testosterone to SHBG without side effects. Zinc supplements may also help raise testosterone levels, as will weight training. Ensure sufficient intake of protein for healthy levels of testosterone too.
- 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. It affects our mood and body composition as well as our energy levels. Often referred to as the anti-aging hormone, DHEA levels naturally tend to decline as we age and with chronic stress. DHEA levels are best measured in the blood or saliva and replacements should only be taken when a deficiency has been diagnosed. It is also important to have follow-up testing regularly as excess DHEA can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.