Not everybody knows it, but having excess belly fat is very unhealthy for you; not only that, it is unattractive and can hold you back regarding self-esteem and confidence.
The sad truth of it is that if you carry too much belly fat, you can even be discriminated against and not be hired over those who are slim and trim.
And when it comes to diseases, belly fat is a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and cancer.
If you are somebody who has belly fat, you might have heard of the word “visceral fat”. This refers to the
Don’t think it is fat people who only have belly fat; normal weighted people are also prone to excess belly fat and then they are also at risk of the same health problems.
Ouch, you say, but there are some health problems that you might not be responsible for, but for those you are, it is likely that you gained your excess belly weight from an unhealthy lifestyle.
Let’s have a look at what causes belly fat:
Not many people realize just how much sugary stuff they consume on a daily basis. Sodas, fruit drinks, cakes, candies, and even those so-called health muffins like blueberry muffins and bran muffins, etc. all contain sugar.
It is believed that belly fat arises due to high fructose levels in your body from all that sugar. In just seconds, you could have downed spoons of sugar just by the sodas you are drinking.
Studies show that liquid calories don’t have the same effect on your appetite as calories do form solid foods.
Alcohol can in some instances be healthy for your body, but it can be harmful when consumed in larger doses than normal. When you drink in moderation, particularly red wine, you could lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.
But when your drink in large amounts, you spike up your chances of liver disease, inflammation, and other health problems. Like belly fat, you must have heard of the term “beer belly” before.
Studies link high intakes of alcohol with expanded waistlines, noting that men who drink more than 3 drinks a day are more likely, in fact, 80% more likely, to have extra belly fat than men who consumed less.
There are no worse fats around than trans-fats. It is when hydrogen is added to unsaturated fats to make them more stable. That’s why trans-fats are used for extending the shelf life of many packaged foods like crackers, muffins, and baking mixes.
Trans-fats cause inflammation and can be the cause of diabetes and heart disease. Researchers at the Wake Forest University say that trans-fats create the amount of fat around the belly, adding new fat and moving fat from other areas to the belly.
4. Sedentary lifestyle
Being inactive is seriously one of the biggest risk factors
Researchers say that in 27 years from now a quarter of the world’s population will be obese and that one in every eight people will have type 2 diabetes.
Imagine what the medical bills are going to be!
Studies show that people who watch more than 3 hours of TV a day are at almost twice the risk of serious stomach obesity compared to people who watch only an hour or so a day. Other studies also reveal that inactivity contributes to fat being regained around the belly after losing weight.
5. Diets low in protein
If you don’t get sufficient protein in your diet, i.e. plant or animal protein, you are sure to put on weight. Protein is actually one of the most important factors in preventing weight gain. When your diet is high in protein, you feel full and satisfied for longer and you increase your metabolic rate, and are less likely to have excess belly fat.
It is common for women to gain weight and particularly belly fat once they hit the menopause. When in puberty, the estrogen hormone signals to the body to start storing fat in the hips and thighs for the possibility of pregnancy later on.
But when in menopause the estrogen levels drop and the fat will go to the abdomen and no longer on the hips and thighs. Belly fat in menopause can also be as a result of genetics.
7. Gut bacteria
There are hundreds of bacteria types living in your gut, particularly in your colon. Some of the bacteria
When there is an imbalance in your gut bacteria you increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, plus other diseases.
An unhealthy balance of gut bacteria promotes weight gain, because too many sugary foods, artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy fats have been consumed. Whole grains, vegetables, fermented foods, and fruits all support healthy gut bacteria.
8. Fruit juice
Fruit juice might sound deliciously healthy, but it actually contains a lot of sugar. Even the unsweetened ones contain lots of sugar. For instance, a 250 ml apple juice and a cola have the same amounts of sugar. Sure, fruit juice offers you minerals and vitamins, but the fructose in it can interfere with your insulin production and increase belly fat.
9. Stress and cortisol
Essential for survival is the hormone, cortisol; produced by the adrenal glands. It’s known as our stress hormone because it triggers stress responses in the body. But unfortunately, it can also lead to weight gain when it is produced in excess, particularly in the stomach area. Stress is known to cause many people to overeat, and where do the excess calories get stored? – In the belly.
10. Low-fiber diets are out
We all know that fiber is vital for a healthy gut and for controlling your weight. There are some types of fiber that keep you feeling fuller for longer, and they even stabilize your hunger hormones, reducing calorie absorption from foods.
Soluble fiber is associated with the reduction of belly fat – for each 10-gram increase you take in of soluble fiber you decrease the accumulation of belly fat. Diets that are high in refined carbs and low in fiber are likely to result in an increase in belly fat.
Unfortunately, sometimes genes play a role in the risk of obesity. Two studies carried out have identified 18 new genes which are linked to overall obesity and 13 more which influence whether your weight goes to your belly or to your thighs.
These findings come from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) and if they are validated will play a role in how obesity is categorized and treated. Apparently, some of the genes affect appetite control and
12. Not enough sleep
There is no question that you need to get enough sleep; imperative for good health. Studies on 68,000 women over 16 years found that those who slept less than 5 hours a night were 32% more likely to gain 32 lbs.
Sleep disorders are also known to contribute to weight gain, such as sleep apnea. Studies show that obese men with apnea had more abdominal fat than obese men with no sleep apnea.
What are the dangers of belly fat?
People doing research at the American Diabetes Association revealed that visceral fat isn’t inactive in your body; rather, it produces toxins and chemicals called cytokines.
This is what can increase your risk of heart disease, and also make your system less sensitive to insulin, putting you at risk for diabetes. Further studies from the Massachusetts General Hospital report also that belly fat increases health risks such as:
- Stroke and heart disease.
- High blood pressure, with hardening of the arteries
- Brain problems like dementia and depression
- Promoting the development of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood
- Poor blood sugar control which leads on to diabetes
- Inflammation in the body can definitely promote the progress of a disease in your body, and lead to things too like arthritis and other bone problems.
Getting rid of belly fat comes with more benefits than just good health
When you have excessive belly fat, it can as we mentioned above be unattractive and can cause people to view you in a different light than what you would like, that means your self-confidence and your self-esteem drop.
Everybody wants to look and feel good and to improve their health – how you feel in your body helps to build positive feelings about you.
Apart from the cosmetic benefits, you get good health back, and you just feel so much better, with more energy and agility, especially as you get older.
You need to deal with excess belly fat by focusing on a healthy lifestyle; on a consistent and effective basis. A diet that is mixed with exercises that you enjoy doing, as well as trying to live stress-free (not always the easiest!) is what you need to concentrate on to slim down from the health effects of having belly fat.
Many people find it confusing to find the right diet to target belly fat and to achieve the benefits. It requires a good understanding of how it all fits together to get your plan of action underway.
You need to make a conscious day to day decision what you will eat, how much sleep you need and how much exercise you want to do and how you will handle your stress – all these are the key to combating hormonal imbalances that contribute so much to belly fat.
How to get rid of belly fat
Losing belly fat will certainly help you to achieve massive health benefits and you are more likely to live longer too. Take a tape measure and measure yourself around your waist.
If you are anything past 40 inches or 102 cm for men, or over 35 inches or 88 cm for women, you will have what is known as ‘abdominal obesity’.
Even if you are not very heavy generally, but have excess fat over your waistline, you should take some steps to get rid of it. There are ways you can target belly fat. Here are 6 ways to lose belly fat:
- Avoid sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks as noted above
- Eat more protein – a long-term strategy to reduce belly fat
- Cut out carbs because your appetite goes down and you lose weight. Low carb diets lead to two to three times more weight loss than low-fat diets do because water weight gets lost too
- Concentrate on the high fiber foods, particular viscous fiber. Just remember not all fiber is the same, and it appears that it is the soluble and the viscous fibers that will have an effect on your weight. These are the fibers that give you that prolonged feeling of fullness and a reduced appetite.
- It goes without saying that exercise is highly effective at reducing belly fat, plus it helps to avoid disease. And that doesn’t mean doing abdominal exercises, concentrating only on doing ab exercises. That won’t help. You need overall exercises and aerobics exercises like swimming, running and walking have been known to help reduce belly fat. At the same time, inflammation is reduced, you lower your blood sugar levels, and you improve other metabolic abnormalities associated with belly fat.
- Eat mindfully by noticing the intake of your food, working out exactly what you eat and how much you are eating. Believe it, there are some people who don’t have a clue what they are eating – many times over- or under-estimating if they are eating high proteins or low carbs.
How the hormones are linked to belly fat
It’s not just food that impacts on the levels of belly fat.
Hormones play a huge role too.
If your hormones are imbalanced, you can experience extra levels of belly fat. Look at these hormones which are linked to belly fat accumulating around your waist:
Cortisol: This hormone, essential for our survival, is produced in the adrenal glands. It is the hormone which dictates how your energy is used.
When you feel threatened, you will get a burst of adrenalin and cortisol as well, letting the body know that it needs to replenish the adrenalin energy you lost.
It is often why we want food in stressful situations and as long as the stress is there, the body will keep on pumping cortisol. It is also cortisol which promotes fat storage in the body – if you are stressed, you hold on to the excess fat, particularly visceral fat.
Estrogen: If you have too much estrogen in your body, this hormone can promote belly fat. When women go through menopause, their estrogen levels drop, often causing a redistribution of fat from their thighs, hips, and buttocks (stored there when young for the purposes of breastfeeding and pregnancy).
When old, this distribution of fat is no longer required in those places, so the fat gets deposited itself over the belly area.
You need to naturally restart your hormones
One doctor, Dr. Sarah Gottfried, an expert on hormones suggests that you need to do a complete overhaul of what you eat. She recommends that you set aside 40 days where you cut out gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine. Then you aim to eat one pound of veggies daily, like cruciferous vegetables and top-notch protein.
The goal here is to reduce your nutritional stress by cutting out high-reactive foods. Dr. Gottfried also recommends you partake in intermittent fasting – she prefers the 16:8-method best.
She also recommends that people do HIIT workouts and sleep at least 7-8 hours each night. She says that poor sleep wreaks havoc on your internal biochemistry system and that when tired, people also tend to overeat.
When you gain excess weight, particularly at the waist, your body’s biochemistry spirals downward, and you create more inflammation in your body, plus oxidative stress, promoting even more fat storage.
A vicious cycle starts of hormonal problems and disease which just drags you down unless you do something about it.
Eating to get rid of belly fat
Try out a low carb Ketogenic Diet because changing the type of calories you eat can accelerate your weight loss plan and reduce belly fat.
A ketogenic diet is one that is strictly low-carb and high in protein and fats but reducing carbs. It has been shown to help those who struggle with overweight, helping you not to feel hungry all the time. You can also add some metabolism boosters to your diet:
- Cayenne pepper: This increases your heart rate and makes you sweat, boosting your metabolic rate. A top food to reduce inflammation in your body. Try adding this healthful pepper to chicken recipes or try and do a detox using cayenne pepper.
- Matcha Green Tea: A truly great tea at boosting your metabolism and assisting you with weight loss and reducing body fat.
- Wakame seaweed: Wakame has been shown to promote fat burning.
- Tuna, because it is packed with lean protein and Omega-3.
- Cottage cheese contains plenty of protein and is low in calories.
- Berries usually have less sugar in than other fruit and ooze with fiber and antioxidants.
- Eggs with whole grain toast are an excellent protein breakfast to get you on your way to losing belly fat.
- Avocados, from studies from 2013 show that those who eat avocados usually have lower waist circumferences and body mass index (BMI).
- Fatty fish: Omega 3 fatty acids not only delay aging and fight off degenerative diseases; it is also excellent for weight loss. Mackerel and herring are very high in protein and contain good fats to help to break down the dangerous fats in your body.
- Use coconut oil instead of your other oils: Coconut oil can withstand higher heats so it is not as carcinogenic as the other oils. The medium-chain fats in coconut oil boost your metabolism and decrease the amount of fat you store.
The fact of the matter is; there are many different factors that can make you gain excessive belly fat. It kind of creeps up behind your stomach muscles and sometimes just won’t go away.
There are ways to get rid of belly fat, and you need to investigate it a.s.a.p.; because it is essential for your health; that is if you want to get the spring back in your life.