Fat in the belly – what causes it
There are two types of belly fat – visceral and subcutaneous – that can affect your health differently. The term visceral fat refers to the fat that surrounds the liver and other abdominal organs. A high level of visceral fat increases the risk of chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Subcutaneous fat or fat found directly under the skin, serves several functions, including protecting the organs and regulating body temperature. It is one of the healthier types of fat. If you have high subcutaneous fat levels, you are more likely to have a high level of visceral fat, which can then cause health problems. It is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle that will prevent all types of fat.
Here’s what makes you gain excess belly fat
Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. When you consume too much added sugar, your liver becomes overloaded with fructose, causing fat to accumulate around your abdomen and liver. Sugar is half glucose and half fructose.
Taking food with added sugar or sugar-sweetened beverages may make you gain belly fat. Drinking more water, tea, and coffee without sugar, eating less processed foods can help you lose belly fat.
Sugar-sweetened drinks (SSBs) and processed foods are among the foods that may have added sugar. A typical diet might also include baked goods, pastries, muffins, flavored yogurts, breakfast cereals, granola and protein bars, and prepackaged foods.
In this scenario, you are consuming a large amount of sugar and calories without gaining any nutritional value. For many, consuming several SSBs in a day is not uncommon. Drinking your calories – especially from SSBs – can lead to temporary weight gain.
If you want to eliminate added sugar in your diet, try eating more lean protein, salads, and veggies. Exercise can reduce cortisol (the other belly fat stress hormone), but it can also lower your blood sugar levels so that you don’t have as many cravings.
The most recent research suggests that both high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and regular sugar (sucrose) contribute to weight gain in a similar manner-namely, by providing excessive calories rather than having a unique role in fat storage.
Stress makes you fat
Stress affects the entire body, especially the belly. As stress increases, your body releases cortisol, which causes fat to be stored around the abdomen.
Chronic stress can cause the formation of visceral fat and make it difficult to reduce weight because it causes an increase in cortisol production. Furthermore, elevated cortisol levels in relation to food may encourage some people to seek solace in high-calorie foods, which can contribute to undesirable weight gain.
Unfortunately, sugary and fatty foods are readily available and devoured by those who are under a lot of stress. This food has become a source of comfort, which might lead to overeating and weight gain.
In order to handle stress and stop the continuous cortisol production, adding to belly fat, you first need to calm yourself.
It’s not always easy dealing with the stress we’re under, and we cannot always avoid it. Stress is inevitable, and we need a certain amount of it. If you want to feel good and lose your belly fat, you need to give yourself permission to manage stress every day.
Other lifestyle patterns that may contribute to weight increase, such as negative coping behaviors (e.g., substance addiction), poor sleep quality, sedentary behaviors, and physical inactivity, might be influenced by chronic stress. Excess abdominal fat can raise cortisol levels, creating a vicious cycle of persistent stress in the body. To break the pattern, controlling stress through a healthy lifestyle that includes, but is not limited to, a nutrient-dense diet, frequent exercise, meditation, and treating mental health should be a top goal. Working with a healthcare expert may be required in more serious circumstances.
Alcohol can have both beneficial and harmful effects. Alcohol can cause inflammation, liver disease, cancer, excess weight gain, and many other health problems. Consumed in moderate amounts, especially red wine, it lowers the risk of heart disease.
Drinking too much alcohol makes you fat and increases your body mass index (BMI). Alcohol may increase cortisol, which promotes the abdominal fat storage. Weight gain may lead to poorer sleep, which can result in a higher BMI. According to some studies, the consumption of alcohol several times per day is associated with weight gain and abdominal obesity, especially in men.
Trans fats are frequently employed in baked goods and packaged foods as a low-cost — but effective — substitute for butter, lard, and other high-cost ingredients. Artificial trans fats have been demonstrated to promote inflammation, which can lead to insulin resistance, heart disease, some types of cancer, and other disorders. Natural trans fats occur in moderate amounts in nature.
Natural trans fats, which occur naturally in dairy and animal products, do not have the same negative health effects as synthetic trans fats. Because of their detrimental effects on health and contribution to visceral obesity, many nations have drastically reduced or even outlawed the use of artificial trans fats in food production.
A sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle, such as sitting on your sofa watching TV or typing at your computer, can be a serious cause of weight gain and health problems. An inactive lifestyle coupled with poor eating habits can lead to tiredness, fatigue, and weakness. Just like a car parked in a garage all year gets rusty and needs a thorough overhaul.
Dieting poorly, not exercising, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are all linked to higher levels of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat.
A regular aerobic activity, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, can help you live longer and be healthier. Aerobic activity widens small blood capillaries, which increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, blood flow to your heart, muscles, and lungs while also transporting away waste items like carbon dioxide and lactic acid.
Adults are recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) each week and to perform regular strength training.
Many people overlook the role that increased fullness plays in promoting weight loss and preventing weight gain when consuming a high protein diet. Protein is the macronutrient that takes the longest to digest when compared to other macronutrients. Higher metabolism and more calories burned at rest are also aided by protein, which contributes to muscle repair and growth.
In addition to lean meat, poultry, tofu, eggs, beans, lentils, and legumes, there are many other protein-rich sources.
Low belly fat and modest body weight are linked to a high protein diet.
Good gut bacteria
The importance of good gut bacteria cannot be overstated, which benefits health, whereas bad bacteria are harmful. The microbiome of your gut is composed entirely of bacteria.
Gut health is essential for a strong immune system and a lower risk of disease. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and gut problems (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease) are all diseases that can be caused by a bacterial imbalance in the stomach.
According to some studies, having a poor gut bacteria balance may increase weight gain, including belly fat. A larger ratio of Firmicutes bacteria to Bacteroidetes bacteria is linked to increased weight and visceral fat.
A low-fiber, high-sugar, high-saturated-fat diet has been related to unhealthy gut bacteria, whereas a fiber-dense diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as a whole, minimally processed foods, appears to promote gut health.
Taking a probiotic containing many strains of “good” bacteria can correct gut bacteria imbalance and lead to considerable body fat and visceral fat reductions.
Probiotic supplementation has also been linked to lower BMI, body fat percentage, and visceral fat in additional studies.
Lack of sleep
It may appear strange, but a lack of sleep is connected to weight increase, which can include belly fat. Inadequate sleep can result in increased food intake to compensate for a lack of energy, changes in hunger hormones, inflammation, and a lack of physical activity as a result of exhaustion.
Similar to how chronic stress leads to weight gain and vice versa, a lack of sleep leads to weight gain, higher BMIs, and sleep issues and disorders.
Dietary fiber is critical for good health and weight management.
Fiber can aid in the feeling of fullness, the regulation of hunger hormones, and the management of hunger.
Highly-refined-carbohydrate, low-fiber diets appear to have the opposite effect on hunger and weight gain, as well as an increase in belly fat.
Beans, lentils, whole grains, oats, vegetables, fruit, and various nuts and seeds are all high in fiber and can be included in your diet.
Dietary fiber softens and increases the weight and size of your stool. Constipation is less likely with a thick stool since it is simpler to pass.
It aids digestion and promotes intestinal health. Probiotics can help restore the balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut, as well as reduce cravings for sugary and fatty foods.
Last but not least, numerous publications state that due to natural hormonal changes, women going through menopause might easily gain weight and belly fat. Though each woman’s experience with menopause is unique, in general, it causes fat to be stored in the belly rather than the hips and thighs.
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