Since we all have a very busy lifestyle it seems that many people have lesser time to focus on getting to and maintaining their ideal body weight. Excessive weight increase, including belly fat is a matter of concern to so many people; however, a lot of people do not realize that the secret is making small and feasible changes throughout different areas of their lives. Improving nutrition, increasing activity, reducing stress, and making other lifestyle changes can all help people lose unwanted belly fat. Health practitioners suggest that our diet and physical activities play key roles in terms of maintaining a healthy weight.
What is belly fat?
Belly fat refers to the excess abdominal fat surrounding the organs in the stomach. There are three types of fat:
- Triglycerides: the fat that circulates in the blood
- Subcutaneous fat: the layer directly below the skin’s surface
- Visceral fat: this fat is located beneath the muscles in your stomach and poses many dangers to one’s health when in excess.
How do you know if you have too much belly fat?
An easy way to determine if you have too much belly fat is to measure your waist:
- While standing, place a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits firmly around you, but not so tight. Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale and measure your waist without tucking in your stomach.
For women, a measurement of 35 inches or more indicates an unhealthy amount of belly fat. For men, a measurement of 40 inches or more indicates an unhealthy measure.
Causes of belly fat
There are many reasons why people gain belly fat, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress. However, your weight is largely determined by three main factors: how many calories you consume during the day, how many calories you burn off through daily exercise and your age. Many women also notice an increase in belly fat as they get older, even if they are not gaining weight. In this case, it is likely due to a decreasing level of oestrogen, which appears to influence where fat is distributed in the body. Also, the muscle mass tends to decrease considerably as one ages, while fat increases. The loss of muscle mass can also result to a decrease in the rate at which the body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and making other lifestyle changes can all help people lose unwanted belly fat. Studies have shown that the following represent the major causes of belly fat:
Your ability to carry out metabolism or burn fat can be slowed down when you increasingly consume sugary food (such as cakes and candy) and drinks (such as soda and fruit juice); which in turn lead to weight gain. Low-protein, high-carb diets may also affect weight. Protein helps you feel fuller for longer, and people who do not include lean protein in their diet tend to eat more food. Another major cause of obesity are Trans fats; which are found in many foods, including fast food and baked goods. It is highly recommended that trans fats should be replaced with healthful whole-grain foods, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. You can also know whether food contains trans fats by reading food labels.
Excess consumption of alcohol can cause a variety of health problems, including liver disease and inflammation. Several studies have indicated that drinking excess alcohol causes males to gain weight around their bellies.
Lack of exercise
Consumption of more calories than you can burn will definitely lead to an increase in weight. An inactive lifestyle makes it more difficult to get rid of excess fat, particularly around the abdomen.
Due to the daily pressure of meeting up with expanding schedules, chronic stress which has become an epidemic in the society. Bad enough chronic stress could cause damage to your immune system and your entire body. Research has also shown that stressed-out women had a significantly higher waist circumference compared to non-stressed women; because stress has been proven to contribute to the increase in fat deposits around the belly! When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, and even belly fat storage. Cortisol also signals for more glucose to be released into the bloodstream, and when this isn’t used up by the body, it gets stored as fat. When feeling stressed, people often resort to eating as a means of comfort; and cortisol causes the excess calories to remain around the belly and other areas of the body for later use.
There is substantial evidence that genes undoubtedly play a large role in determining whether someone will be obese or not. Researchers also suggest that genes can influence behavior, metabolism, and the risk of developing obesity-related diseases. Similarly, environmental factors and behavior also play a role in the likelihood of people becoming obese.
Not having enough rest can have an impact on general well-being. Studies have shown that weight gain can be linked to short sleep duration, which could lead to an excess of belly fat. Both poor quality and short duration of sleep can play a part in the development of abdominal fat. Not getting enough good sleep will in the long run lead to unhealthful eating habits, such as emotional eating.
Although smoking may not be a direct cause of belly fat, researchers consider it to be a risk factor.
Numerous hormones contribute to belly fat, but insulin has the most significant effect, as it is the fat storage hormone. High levels of insulin will subsequently result more weight around the belly. If you become insulin resistant, your body will both generate and accumulate body fat. It is also important to know that increased sugar intake causes insulin resistance and all its repercussions. With your ability to shut down the insulin surges, you will arrest belly fat storage and cravings.
Possible health complications from belly fat
There is a higher likelihood of various health issues if a person has excess belly fat; it can have negative impacts on almost every organ in your body through the productions of excess hormones and chemicals. Fat is not just a fat depot to store energy; it is a very active endocrine organ that produces hormones, inflammatory proteins and fatty acids which are secreted into the bloodstream. The presence of excess visceral fat in the body can put you at risk for many other health issues such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Belly fat could be more dangerous than it seems; as it is not limited to the subcutaneous fat. It also includes visceral fat– which lies deep inside your abdomen and surrounds your internal organs. This visceral fat is linked with far more dangerous health problems, including:
Several studies have linked belly fat to the risk of developing heart disease. Excess belly fat tends to increase blood pressure and blood sugar levels, raise triglyceride levels, and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. All these can lead to a serious risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that people with excess belly fat are at risk of developing heart diseases. The study also found that individuals with excess abdominal fat followed unhealthy lifestyles habits and were more prone to developing heart disease, which could be fatal in the long run.
Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that fat deposited on the abdomen will likely lead to type 2 diabetes. However, if it gets deposited on the hips, it may mean that the person has lower risks of developing this disease. To this end, all body fat is dangerous, especially the one that gets accumulated in your belly because this ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes.
Having belly fat can also lead to difficulty in breathing and other respiratory problems. In extreme cases, breathing difficulties can even result to death.
Research has shown that belly fat causes migraine headaches and that women were more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
Excess belly fat has also been linked to increased risks of cancer. T has further been shown that fat protein found in the belly develops into cancerous cells.
Loss of Memory
It is believed that excessive belly fat is capable of shrinking the brain and lead to dementia in the long run. This indicates that the greater the amount of belly fat, the more your brain shrinks thus leading to dementia. Dementia is a state of memory loss that comes with many unfavorable effects.
Effective ways of getting rid of belly fat
A healthy diet and active lifestyle can help people lose excess belly fat and lower the risk of the problems associated with it. To help get rid of belly fat, consider the following effective ways:
Avoid Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates are pure sugar; they are completely stripped of their fiber leaving only simple carbohydrates behind. This makes foods containing them addictive, and plenty of emerging research is showing that refined carbs are the real culprit behind metabolic damage. They are contained in breads, white pastas, and breakfast cereals; and should be avoided where possible.
Avoid eating junk food
Avoid all forms of junk and focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. Limit added sugar and saturated fat, which is found in meat and high-fat dairy products, such as cheese and butter. Choose moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and certain oils — instead.
Avoid Processed Foods
Majority of the packaged foods we buy from stores have been processed in some way or other. Even supposedly healthy foods, when made at such a large scale for the masses, have to be processed through the adding of chemicals in some way or other. This often means adding lots of chemicals that can have detrimental effects on our bodies.
Engage more in physical exercise
Belly fat can be lost when you exercise as a regular routine. A sedentary lifestyle brings with it many serious health problems, including weight gain. Undertaking both aerobic exercise and strength training can help people tackle their belly fat. Exercise is most effective if people combine both cardiovascular and high-intensity training alongside weights and resistance training. Strength training exercises also are recommended at least twice a week. If you aim to lose more weight or meet specific fitness goals, you might need to exercise more.
Stress can cause a person to gain weight. The release of the stress hormone cortisol influences a person’s appetite and could cause them to eat more. Stress-relieving strategies that may help you with stress include mindfulness, meditation, and gentle exercise, such as yoga. Engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, by actively doing something relaxing. Relaxation can span from deep breathing to taking a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works for you and do it. You should be actively doing something to relax.
Get more sleep
Sleep is vital to people’s overall health, and too little rest can have a severe impact on well-being. The primary reason why we sleep is to allow the body to rest, heal, and recover, but it can also have an impact on a person’s weight. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones, in particular cortisol which promotes weight gain. Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential when a person is trying to shed weight, including belly fat.
Smoking is a risk factor for increased belly fat, as well as many other serious health concerns. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk from excess belly fat, as well as improve general health.
Tips on choosing healthy foods beneficial to weight loss
Putting on weight is easy but burning it down can be a difficult affair for you to deal with. Burning belly fat naturally is no easy task, but the results are long lasting. Improve your diet. A healthy, balanced diet can help a person lose weight, and it is also likely to have a positive effect on their overall health. People should avoid sugar, fatty foods, and refined carbohydrates that have low nutritional content. Instead, they should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. The following are some healthy foods you should consider:
When compared to other fruits like apples, avocados have a very low sugar content which is great news for insulin levels. One thing they are rich in is mono unsaturated fat which is proven to give you an energy boost and keep your metabolism going.
In comparison to most other fruits, berries have a relatively low calorie and sugar content. In general, the fruit is a good source of dietary fiber when eaten whole, leaving you feeling satiated and slowing down sugar absorption.
Apples and Pears
Pears and apples particularly have low calories and high fiber. Since they are a rich source of dietary fiber, apples and pears will make you feel full without eating too much.
When it comes to burning belly fat, the grapefruit is very effective. It stimulates the production of cholecystokinin, a known hunger suppressant. Additionally, grapefruit lowers insulin levels of the body, which prevents our body from storing fat.
In addition to its other health benefits, sweet potato has a lower Glycemic Index which measures how fast it releases sugar into the bloodstream. Being rich in fiber, it is easily digested and gives enough time for the starches to be converted into simple sugars in the digestive tract.
Chili peppers contain one particular ingredient that suppresses appetite and burns fat – capsaicin. Capsaicin which is responsible for that burning sensation in our mouth when we eat chili also burns fat through a process called thermogenesis.
Leafy greens are rich in nutrient and fiber content while being low in carbohydrates and calories. They are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet because of their low energy density (low calories), meaning you can eat more without much risk of gaining weight, plus they help you feel fuller for longer.
This vegetable family is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, carotenoids, and fiber, while also being low in calories and fat. They do not only help with weight loss, but also aid in improving digestive health.
Beans and legumes
Due to their high protein and fiber content without the saturated fat, they are ideal for moderating or losing weight because protein and fiber go through the digestive system at a slower pace, leaving you feeling fuller for longer. The slower pace also helps regulate blood sugar balance, and beans lead to a production of a hormone known to be an appetite suppressant.
Generally speaking, nuts are a rich source of healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids), protein, and fiber. Almonds and cashews, contain the least amount of calories and have been proven to help in weight loss.
Coconut oil is a rich source of fatty acids – great for boosting brain function, lowering blood cholesterol, and potentially helping reduce seizures in people who suffer from high cholesterol.
With all the busy schedules everywhere, it seems that many people have lesser time to focus on getting to and maintaining their ideal body weight. Excessive weight increase, including belly fat is a matter of concern to so many people; however, a lot of people do not realize that the secret is making small and feasible changes throughout different areas of their lives. Improving nutrition, increasing activity, reducing stress, and making other lifestyle changes can all help people lose unwanted belly fat. Health practitioners suggest that our diet and physical activities play key roles in terms of maintaining a healthy weight.
Keep a balance in life in everything you do.
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