A little bit of abdominal fat isn’t such a bad thing. It helps to protect your vital organs, after all!
It’s a fine balancing act though as storing too much fat around your abdomen can be dangerous and has been linked to some pretty nasty health problems. We’re talking heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, to name just a few of the things that it may set the scene for. Scary, right?
Some of the culprits are fairly obvious, especially if you’re eating a lot of processed foods and not doing much exercise. There can be some surprising reasons behind belly fat though and these can come into play even if you think you’re living a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the factors that can make you more likely to store fat in your abdominal area.
Factor #1 – You’re Eating Too Much Sugar and Trans Fats
If you eat a diet that contains a lot of processed sugar, you’ll probably be struggling to shift belly fat. According to studies, there is a definite link between the two. This can be largely to do with the fructose content in processed sugars.
Trans fats are another big no-no if you want to avoid belly fat. These are pretty much the worst type of fat you can eat as they promote inflammation and according to studies on animals, they also encourage more fat to be stored on and around your abdomen.
Factor #2 – Your Alcohol Intake
You’ve no doubt heard of a “beer belly” and this is something that can affect women too. Depending on how much you drink, it could be the culprit for stubborn belly fat. Some studies have shown that alcohol can make it harder to burn fat and makes it more likely that the extra calories it brings to the party are stored on and around the abdomen. Why not save that glass of wine for the weekend.
Factor #3 – You’re On a Low Protein Diet
If you want to stay trim, it’s really important to get enough protein in your diet. Protein helps you to feel more sated and can mean that you consume less calories. Low protein diets are also more likely to result in belly fat, according to studies. People who eat a lot of protein tend to have very little in the way of belly fat.
Factor #4 – You Don’t Eat Enough Fiber
If your diet is low in fiber, you can be more likely to store belly fat. Observational studies show that getting plenty of soluble fiber reduces the chances of this. In one particular study that involved over 1,100 men and women, every extra 10g of soluble fiber led to a 32% decrease in how much belly fat was stored. This has a lot to do with the fact that low fiber increases your appetite and belly fat.
Factor #5 – You’re Scared of Eating Fat
Fat has had a bad rep and this can put you off eating it. While it’s true that you don’t need a lot of the unhealthier fats, good fats can help you to lose weight and keep belly fat to a minimum.
Monounsaturated fats are one of the good fats and are important for satiety. They’ll help you to feel fuller for longer so you’re less likely to make unhealthy food choices that increase your potential for storing belly fat.
Factor #6 – You Have Too Much “Bad” Bacteria in Your Gut
According to research, an imbalance of gut bacteria can have an effect on your weight and how much fat you store on your abdomen. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to have a type of bacteria that can mean that more calories are absorbed from your food.
Factor #7 – You’re Stressed
Under a lot of stress? It could be one of the reasons why you’re storing belly fat. The stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Rather than going on your body across the board, cortisol often encourages extra calories to be stored as abdominal fat.
Factor #8 – You Don’t Sleep Well
If you spend a lot of time tossing and turning on an average night, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll store belly fat. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain in general and according to some studies, it also predisposes you to abdominal weight gain in particular.
A large scale study of more than 68,000 women found that those who were sleeping less than 5 hours per night gained a lot more weight compared to those who slept 7 hours or more.
Factor #9 – You Don’t Get Enough Magnesium
Getting enough magnesium in your diet can lower your blood sugar and insulin levels. That’s not too surprising when you consider that this mighty mineral is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in your body! Some of these reactions have an effect on your body’s ability to burn fat so it can have an indirect impact on your weight.
Factor #10 – You aren’t exercising or you are exercising too much.
Not all exercise is equal when it comes to busting belly fat and keeping it off.
To some degree, we need cortisol to help repair exercise-related muscle damage and encourage our muscles to bounce more quickly after working out.
However having high cortisol levels most of the time makes you more likely to store fat, especially belly fat.
When you work out, your body’s cortisol levels rise. Some types of exercise are more likely to raise cortisol levels than others.
Low-intensity exercise can reduce cortisol levels and keep them at stable levels whereas reasonably high-intensity exercise has been shown to increase them.
Endurance training is one of the types of exercise that can significantly raise cortisol levels, especially when it’s intense.
Moderate exercise such as Yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi are great ways to keep your hormone levels healthy, especially when it’s combined with a good diet, plenty of sleep, and a healthy lifestyle in general.
Taking baby steps is the best way to reach your goals.
This isn’t an all or nothing approach. Pick one thing to change each week. This will help you create good and long-lasting habits. You’ll also be balancing those hormones in the process and reducing perimenopause and menopause symptoms!
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Cheers & Love! XO