Ever wondered what it is about belly fat that makes it so hard to lose? You start exercising more and you eat healthier meals, and yet it seems that the paunch doesn’t want to go anywhere! What most people don’t realize is that mental and emotional health has a lot to do with belly fat, and unfortunately the more you stress about it the harder it can be to lose.
The Impact of Stress on Belly Fat
When you are stressed out on a chronic basis, your adrenal glands secrete more cortisol (the long-term stress hormone). The purpose of cortisol is to provide your body with enough energy (by supplying glucose) in order to fight the stress you are facing. Not only are you pumping out more glucose when you’re stressed, but your body is actually resisting weight loss because it thinks that times are tough and you might starve, so it hangs onto every inch of fat in preparation.
Therefore, being stressed on a constant basis leads to:
- More excess energy, or glucose, being stored as fat [weight gain]
- Exhausted adrenal glands that cannot keep up with energy demands [exhaustion]
- Even greater cravings for sugar, or glucose, if enough cortisol cannot be produced [cravings]
Lastly, your belly fat contains the most cortisol (or stress) receptors than any other place in the body – is it any wonder that’s where your fat likes to hang out?
Weight Loss Teas
The obvious first step to take is finding more time to relax or practice stress management techniques, but the less obvious one is actually getting to your goals faster with the help of medicinal or herbal teas. Nature’s pharmacy has provided us powerful herbs that not only have the ability to help the body cope with stress and replenish the adrenal glands, but also to help balance blood sugar levels and boost metabolism.
Below are herbs that can help accomplish all of the above, however you can also select the herbal teas or blends that are most suited to the symptom you face.
Weight Loss Block: Chronic Stress
- Also known as holy basil, tulsi is one of the most sacred plants in India; believed to have the ability to lift the mighty triad of body, mind, and spirit.
- Tulsi functions as an adaptogen, enhancing the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress. Adaptogenic herbs can help your body regulate and function optimally during times of stress. (1,2)
- Chamomile has been known to have relaxing effects and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of calmness and well-being. It has been shown to be useful for patients with generalized anxiety disorder when compared to a placebo. (3)
- Green tea contains the nutrient L-theanine which can help improve mood and focus. L-theanine is a potent amino acid that acts as a relaxing agent without sedative effects or any of the negative side-effects of Valium or Xanax. However, it works in a similar fashion by interacting with brain receptors to increase dopamine, GABA and glycine levels in the brain. This produces a sense of calm and reduces the perception of stress. (4,5)
Weight Loss Block: Sugar Cravings
A large part of your weight loss struggle can be due to nagging, constant cravings… which may also be a sign that you may need to hit the reset button on your diet. By supporting your body’s natural detoxification systems you can help cut cravings and get back in control – take this quick quiz to find our how badly you may need to detox:
- Cinnamon is well known for its use amongst diabetics in order to help keep blood sugar under control. Cinnamon in tea or sprinkled over your morning oatmeal will help regulate your blood sugar levels and keep cravings at bay. (6)
- Fennel seed is great at helping to improve digestion as well as also help regulate blood sugar levels and cravings similar to cinnamon. (7)
- This is an adaptogenic herb that helps your body copy with stress and provides some needed relief to the adrenal glands. Fortunately, it also helps regulate blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity, and has anti-obesity properties. (8,9)
- This strange sounding tea (pronounced ‘poo-air’) has been prized for centuries in Chinese herbalism for its health benefits. What makes it unique is the natural fermentation process that happens to its leaves before the tea is gently dried. This fermentation process helps produce micro-organisms which combine with other compounds that have been shown to be particularly beneficial for fat burning. (10)
Weight Loss Block: Exhaustion
- This is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up without the crash. Drinkers experience a state of alert wakefulness similar to that from coffee, but without coffee’s jittery side effects.
- Like green tea, yerba mate contains three related compounds caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. These three alkaloids work together to provide unique, mild stimulant effects.
- Fortunately, yerba mate is also well-documented in helping with weight loss due to its weight loss properties (11)
- It’s not breaking news that green tea has been widely recognized as being able to improve mood and focus. This is due to its powerful combination of mood-stabilizing L-theanine and caffeine. The two compounds bind together providing a slow, even release of caffeine without the jitters.
- Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee and also is unique on how the caffeine provides a more steady stream of energy without the crash.
How To Select The Best Tea Blend
Not all teas are created equal, especially when it comes to quality. Here are some tips on picking medicinal blends:
- Look for organic ingredients to help eliminate pesticide exposure
- Select brands that use loose-leaf or loose-packed whole leaf tea; they are made with higher quality ingredients that have their medicinal properties preserved. Loosely-packed tea also gives the tea “room to brew,” so even more of its healing qualities can be extracted.
- Look for the experts behind the blends. If it’s a naturopathic doctor, herbalist, or tea specialist then you know they’ve done their research and have chosen the ingredients for a specific purpose!
- Avoid tea bags that are transparent or have windows, as this allows oxidation to occur and reduces shelf life. Tea should also be stored in light-free and air-sealed containers to maintain freshness and potency.
Recommendation: A Total Program To Jump Start Your Metabolism
If you’re looking to give your metabolism a jumpstart, hitting the reset button with a professionally formulated 14 or 28-day detox program is a great way to start. My favorite detox program is Affect Health’s combination of loose leaf tea and medicinal herbs that are made using 100% USDA organic ingredients and is laxative-free.
Boost energy, metabolism, and detoxification with the Daytime Blend:
- Matcha and Yerba Mate provide even, focused energy all day long without the crash.
- Dandelion Root and powdered Milk Thistle Seed are a potent liver loving combo to help improve detoxification.
Rejuvenate, replenish, and rebuild with the Nighttime Blend:
- Valerian Root and Passion Flower help soothe anxious thoughts and help us relax for a good night’s sleep.
- Milk Thistle Seed provides continued liver support.
(1) Mondal, S., Varma, S., Bamola, V. D., Naik, S. N., Mirdha, B. R., Padhi, M. M., . . . Mahapatra, S. C. (2011). Double-blinded randomized controlled trial for immunomodulatory effects of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract on healthy volunteers. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 136(3), 452-456. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.05.012
(2) Bhattacharya A, Muruganandam AV, Kumar V, Bhattacharya SK. Effect of poly herbal formulation, EuMil, on neurochemical perturbations induced by chronic stress. Indian J Exp Biol. 2002 Oct
(3) JD, Li Y, Soeller I, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2009;29:378-82.
(4) Pradeep; Lu, Kristy; Gray, M.; Oliver, C. (2006). “The Neuropharmacology of L-Theanine(N-Ethyl-L-Glutamine)”. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 6 (2): 21–30. doi:10.1300/J157v06n02_02. PMID 17182482.
(5) Lu, Kristy, Marcus A. Gray, Chris Oliver, David T. Liley, Ben J. Harrison, Cali F. Bartholomeusz, K. Luan Phan, and Pradeep J. Nathan. “The Acute Effects Of L-theanine in Comparison with Alprazolam on Anticipatory Anxiety in Humans.” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental 19.7 (2004): 457-65. Web.
(6) Khan, A., Safdar, M., Khan, M. M., Khattak, K. N., & Anderson, R. A. (2003). Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 26(12), 3215-3218. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215
(7) Essential oil in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences. 2011;4(2):139–146.
(8) Vuksan, V., Sung, M., Sievenpiper, J. L., Stavro, P. M., Jenkins, A. L., Buono, M. D., Naeem, A. (2008). Korean red ginseng (Panax ginseng) improves glucose and insulin regulation in well-controlled, type 2 diabetes: Results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of efficacy and safety. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 18(1), 46-56. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2006.04.003
(10) Way, T., Lin, H., Kuo, D., Tsai, S., Shieh, J., Wu, J., . . . Lin, J. (2009). Pu-erh Tea Attenuates Hyperlipogenesis and Induces Hepatoma Cells Growth Arrest through Activating AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) in Human HepG2 Cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 57(12), 5257-5264. doi:10.1021/jf900730e
(11) Kim, Sun-Young, Mi-Ra Oh, Min-Gul Kim, Han-Jeoung Chae, and Soo-Wan Chae. “Anti-obesity effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine15.1 (2015): n. pag. Web.
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