For women, losing inches off the belly has always been associated to spending tons of hours at the gym, working out, and going on some impossible diet. But losing belly fat could actually be as simple as paying attention to one's body.
Mastering simple mindful eating and stress-reduction techniques can help prevent weight gain even without dieting, according to a study led by University of California, San Francisco, researcher Jennifer Daubenmier, PhD, from the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
In the study, participants were 47 chronically stressed, overweight and obese women. These women were split into two groups; one group, which had 24 women, was assigned to mindfulness training and practice; while the remaining women served as the control group.
For the women who were assigned mindfulness training and practice, no diets were prescribed, instead, they were asked to attend sessions where they learned stress reduction techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations such as hunger, fullness, and taste satisfaction.
In addition, they were asked to set aside 30 minutes daily for mediation and to practice mindful eating during meals.
Results showed that women who listened to their bodies, as well as those who reduced their stress or cortisol, experienced the greatest reductions in abdominal fat. In addition, women who received mindfulness training maintained their total body weight compared to those in the control group who had stable cortisol levels and continued weight gain.
The study illustrated that reducing stress can significantly help losing or controlling one's weight. This is because it has been proven that stress has something to do with weight gain. According to Elizabeth Scott of About.com, stress can affect a number of things.
One of those things is metabolism. When stress levels are high, it slows the body's metabolism down causing more weight gain than one would normally experience. People also get cravings when they get stressed, but not just any cravings. When stressed, the body looks for more fatty, salty, and sugary foods - all the things that are not good for the body.
But not only that, studies have proven that excessive or high levels of stress affects how the body stores fat and is linked to abdominal fat.