THE NERVE RACKER
When your brain is on high alert seven days a week, fat loss can seem impossible. Relax and listen to Pure Sports Medicine strength coach Andy Reay
“You’ve heard of cortisol, the stress hormone, right? Well, when levels become chronically high, it can trigger enzymes that instruct your fat cells to grow, obscuring your abs. It also makes sleep more elusive, which limits the amount of testosterone you produce – and the payoff you get from exercise.
“Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to solve the problem. First, deal with any irregular eating patterns you might have. Every time you eat, your body releases the hormone insulin, which counteracts cortisol, so a “little and often” eating routine is wiser than working through your lunch and overcompensating later.
“If you’ve been feeling fatigued for a while, serious graft will likely compound your stress, making it harder – not easier – to achieve your abs. On weekdays, try something low impact, such as swimming, or if you’re strength training, do a high-rep, low-weight routine. Save heavy sessions for Sundays, if you like. One tool used by athletes is Heart Rate Variability (HRV) monitoring. By tracking the time between your heartbeats, an app such as Elite HRV is able to estimate whether your body is fatigued or under stress, allowing you to tailor your training accordingly.
“Finally, there are supplements that can help you. They won’t make up for poor lifestyle habits, but magnesium, vitamin C and the lesser known phosphatidylserine (£ 16 naturesbest.co.uk), a component of your cells’ membranes, can help to bring down your stress levels. Take a deep breath – your six-pack goal is now one less thing for you to worry about.”