How Meditation Burns Visceral/Belly Fat, Lowers Insulin Resistance
How Meditation Burns Belly Fat
Sinister "Visceral" Fat
Where do you store the majority of your fat? Your belly? If so, we have news for you.
While most of our body fat (subcutaneous) is the wiggly, jiggly kind that we can see and pinch — there exists an unseen, deeper, more sinister kind of fat which goes beyond simply making our favorite sweater a bit too snug.
Wake Forest University assistant professor of endocrinology, Dr. Kristen Hairston, told WebMD that visceral fat "doesn’t just sit there," it creates "lots of nasty substances." Hiding under our abdominal wall, too much of this "bad fat" can impact our health in big ways.
What kind of harm can it do? So destructive, this stuff sticks to our organs, cranks up our stress hormones, sets our body ablaze with inflammation — while also being linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and even brain disorders like dementia. Yikes.
"But I’m relatively thin, this stuff doesn’t affect me, right? I have nothing to worry about."
Think again. One study found that thin people who ate right yet didn’t exercise had loads of visceral fat. If you have resigned yourself to a life of being "skinny-fat" then you might be at risk.
Big Stress, Big Insulin Resistance, Big Fat Belly
Have you tried every belly fat melting diet and exercise routine to no avail? Can you lose fat everywhere on your body except your stubborn midsection? Well, it might not be your fault.
According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts (Hardy et al), with stress as a leading cause, a high percentage of people with excess belly fat can blame their plight on what’s known as "insulin resistance."
What does this mean, exactly?
When our insulin receptors don't open up properly, our liver and muscle cells can't store the energy (glucose) we need from food. This sends our blood sugar to the moon.
All of this extra energy's gotta' go somewhere. And it does… it gets converted to fat. But not the regular soft & fluffy kind that actually responds well to diet and exercise.
The ocean of glucose circulating in insulin resistant people’s blood stream becomes the notoriously unhealthy aforementioned visceral fat.
Sticking like crazy-glue to our midsection and vital organs, the best solution for visceral fat might very well be a stick of dynamite.
Compounding the problem, with starving, nutritionally deficient cells — insulin resistant people often have an insatiable appetite.
Because their blood markers are not quite in the pre-diabates / diabetes range, these folks often hang in medical limbo, undiagnosed by their doctor.
And it’s far more common than we realize. In lab tests at her practice, weight loss (bariatric) physician, Dr. Caroline Cederquist found that around 90% of her obese patients suffered from insulin resistance!
How Meditation Burns Belly Fat
"Since a stick of dynamite sounds like it might hurt, is there another way?"
While the tried and true methods of targeting ultra-stubborn belly fat are a low-sugar diet (Paleo, Mediterranean, etc) and certain types of exercise (High Intensity Interval Training HIIT), there exists an under the radar dark horse.
While meditation is the last thing most people think of when it comes to burning belly fat, the studies prove otherwise.
How can a practice that largely targets the brain be so effective at incinerating stubborn belly fat? Because meditation arrests the secret evil agent responsible for insulin resistance: stress.
Study: Meditators Smash Insulin Resistance Markers
With the thesis that stress greatly impacts "metabolic syndrome" (i.e. abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, etc), scientists from Cedars-Sinai Research Institute (Labrador et al) had 47 coronary heart patients practice meditation for 16 weeks. What did they find?
Amazingly, the meditating heart patients plummeted three key metabolic syndrome markers, including their insulin resistance, glucose, and HOMA scores (homeostasis model assessment).
Versus their "health education only" control group counterparts (who managed to get much worse over the 16 week study), the meditators smashed the non-meditating group’s metabolic syndrome stats by more than 200%!
What does this mean for those of us looking to slim and trim our beer belly and/or muffin-top?
In effect, by pulling the rug out from under two of the most important reasons many of us put on pounds in the first place (stress and cellular insulin resistance), meditation lets our stubborn visceral belly fat burning furnace do its job.
Study: Mindful People Have Less Belly Fat
In 2015, Brown University researchers (Loucks et al) measured the "everyday mindfulness" levels of 400 participants via a short questionnaire (MAAS - Mindful Attention Awareness Scale). What did they find?
Amazingly, the study found that those who were highly aware of their thoughts and feelings (as measured by MAAS) actually weighed much less overall (BMI), and more amazingly, when put under a high powered x-ray scanner — also had signficantly less abdominal fat than the control group!
Becoming a master mind mechanic through meditation does much more than simply make you calm, smart, and focused — it can seriously upgrade your body.
Honorable Mention: The stress hormone "cortisol" is another a huge contributor to our big fat bellies. Luckily, meditation fixes that too. With multiple studies confirming that the ancient practice drops cortisol like a ton of bricks, add one more notch to why meditators often find themselves slim & trim without even trying.