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An Introduction to the Belly Fat Epidemic
Millions of people struggle with weight loss. One of the primary areas in which fat collects is around the midsection. We’re talking about abdominal fat or belly fat. And as you get older, the fat continues to accumulate around the midsection. It’s so common that we even have names for it. We call it the “spare tire,” “beer belly,” “muffin top,” or “love handles.”
Why is Belly Fat is So Difficult to Get Rid Of?
There are many different reasons why fat likes to accumulate in the midsection, and those reasons are the same explanations for why it’s so difficult to get rid of. Let’s start by exploring why belly fat is so difficult to get rid of and then we’ll dive into what belly fat is, why it’s so dangerous and how to get rid of it for good. Because it is possible to have a trim and healthy waistline.
Age and Hormones
Two things happen as you age. The first is that your metabolism slows down. So this means that you automatically burn less fat and calories during a standard day. The trouble is that you’re still probably consuming the same number of calories. The extra calories are stored as fat.
The second reason that fat accumulates as you age has everything to do with your changing hormones. Both men and women begin to see a decline in their sex hormones. We’re talking about testosterone and estrogen in this case. The decreasing amount of these hormones changes where the body stores fat. In both men and women, more visceral fat is stored.
Another way that these hormones impact fat storage and weight gain is through sleep changes. In women particularly, the hormonal change affects sleep quality. Sleep has been directly linked to appetite hormones like leptin. It may feel like your body is working against you. Your hormone levels drop, making you store more fat and making you hungrier.
Stress and Belly Fat
Stress is one of the biggest causes of belly fat. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when a person is under stress. The body shifts all of its focus to help you survive a fight or flight situation – even if you’re not in any actual danger.
Your brain cannot tell the difference between stress from rush hour traffic frustrations and a bear chasing you. It reacts the same way, which is to essentially shut down digestion and shift energy to help your muscles. Your heart rate and breathing increase, and all your fuel is stored as fat.
Yep, cortisol tells your body to store your energy and calories as fat. It tends to store it right in your midsection.
Good Old Fashioned Genetics
You can take a look at your family members and know whether or not you’re prone to belly fat. It tends to be genetic. There are three basic body types; mesomorph, ectomorph, or endomorph.
Male endomorphs tend to store fat in their abdomens and often have the “beer belly” that has become common. Female endomorphs tend to be curvy and store their fat in their backsides and breasts. They’ll be described as pear shaped or have an hourglass figure.
Mesomorphs, if you’re curious, tend to be muscular and athletic, while ectomorphs tend to be tall and thin. Female mesomorphs may store fat in their abdomen and can be described as apple shaped. Of course there are many different combinations of these body types and there is evidence that specific genes determine how many fat cells you have, as well as where those fat cells are most abundant.
You’re probably not surprised to learn that what you eat has an impact on your body fat. In fact, diets that are high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates cause insulin resistance. When your body is becoming insulin resistant it stores fuel as fat rather than signaling your cells to uptake the calories for fuel.
You eat more because you’re tired and your cells need the fuel. Unfortunately, this cycle leads to fat accumulation in your abdomen and eventually it can lead to diabetes. This is one of the reasons it’s important to recognize fat accumulating on your stomach and to take steps to get rid of it.
Childbirth and Your Abdomen
Childbirth doesn’t make you gain belly fat. What it does do for women is change the look of your stomach. After having a baby a woman may find that her stomach has lost its muscular tone. The good news is that even after having many children, a woman can get her flat stomach back.
Abdominal fat isn’t fun, and it makes clothing difficult to find and uncomfortable to wear, but there’s more to belly fat than meets the eye. In fact, belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat. Let’s take a look at the research behind the dangers of belly fat and then we’ll move into a discussion about how to get rid of belly fat.