17683332_s-350x122You are working out religiously, concentrating on exercise for your belly. So why are you still plagued by a roll of fat around your midsection? The answer probably doesn’t lie within your exercise routine. Chances are the problem is your blood sugar.

    The reason is simple. When you consume refined sugar and the carbohydrates that quickly convert to sugar, your blood sugar levels shoot up. But just as it rises, blood sugar is bound to come down. Your pancreas releases insulin to help process the sugar. However, insulin sends a signal to your body to store belly fat.

    Sugary food not only affects insulin, it also impacts your adrenal glands and stress hormones. This leads to more weight gain and the spare tire around your middle continues to expand. Studies have demonstrated that exposure to cortisol (the stress hormone) correlates to more belly fat in women.

    Here are three strategies recommended by nutritionist Meghan Telpner:

    1. Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast.
    Your first meal of the day should include complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats. A good breakfast helps you feel full, and gives your body nutrients that will be slowly released throughout the day. I keeps your blood sugar stable.

    To trim your belly, plan a low-glycemic meal to balance your blood sugar. Some examples might be poached eggs on a bed of steamed spinach or other greens, or a protein-fueled smoothie with fruit, greens, avocado, almond milk, protein powder, and hemp or flax seeds.

    2. Keep your blood sugar regulated with smart snacks.
    Whether you work in an office or you spend your day at home, snacks are a constant source of temptation. Baked goods, candy bars, and sugary lattes will cause your blood sugar to spike, then drop.

    Here are healthy snacks to try:
    An apple spread with nut butter
    A mug of miso soup sprinkled with hemp seeds
    Gluten-free whole-grain crackers with guacamole, hummus, or salsa

    3. Practice meditation.
    Exercise is important, and diet helps control your blood sugar. But both these methods are improved when you support them with mindful meditation. Research shows meditation reduces stress hormones, one of the main causes of belly fat. It also improves your sleep, lowers your blood pressure, and boosts your immune system.

    Integrate these three strategies into your life, and watch your belly fat shrink away.