HEALTH

Are You Fighting With Your Belly Fat?

Everybody has belly fat, even people with flat abs. Normal belly fat sits under the skin. Problem arises when the fat becomes too much, it expands into a belly bulge that makes your pants and dresses feel extra snug. This excessive abdominal fat – called visceral fat – is nestled deep, surrounding your internal organs like heart and liver and “puffs up” your stomach like a beer gut.

The problem with visceral fat is it produces stress hormones like cortisol and inflammatory substances like cytokines that affect the body’s production of insulin. This can lead to health complications like diabetes, high blood pressure and and heart disease. Most people try beating visceral fat with diet and exercise. But if diet and exercise is not helping you lose the belly pooch, then other genetic factors like your age and hormones may be playing a role.

You’re Getting Older

As we get older, our metabolic rate decreases. Also, the number of calories our body needs to function declines. If our food intake remains the same, that means we are consuming more than we are burning. On top of that, as men and women reach menopausal age, hormone production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone slow down. This change in hormone levels can cause men and women to hold onto weight in their bellies.

Doing Wrong Kind of Exercise

Your daily run or aerobic class is great for your heart but probably not much for your belly. To lose belly fat, it takes a combination of cardiovascular workout and weight training. Weights or strength training build muscle mass and re-programs your new growing muscles to burn calories and overall fat.

Eating Too Much Processed Foods

Belly fat is considered a form of inflammation. When you eat too much processed foods like white bread and fast food; and drink refined sugary beverages like soft drinks and syrup juice, it hinders your ability to burn fat in your belly. Choose anti-inflammatory foods that are loaded with natural anti-oxidants like brown rice, vegetables and fruits. Don’t forget to take your vitamins, especially vitamin C. Vitamin C makes carnitine, a natural compound that helps your body convert fat into fuel. Your anti-belly fat friend.

You’re Stressed Out

When we are stressed, our bodies automatically produce a stress-induced hormone, cortisol. High levels of cortisol make our bodies cling to more fats and enlarge existing fat cells. To add to that, we tend to reach for high-fat, high-calorie, low nutrition foods that are convenient and quick to eat in our already stressed out environment.

You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 5 hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who sleep 7 or more hours a night. Losing sleep alters your body’s hormone production which, again, increases cortisol levels. Getting 7 hours or more sleep to help you keep your belly bulge in check.

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