Belly fat is a problem for many people, both young and old. Unfortunately, many people are more inclined (by their genetic makeup) to put on belly fat than lower body fat by their genetic makeup. We need to take the genetic aspect of the fat gain equation into this. It’s not only a matter of diet, lifestyle and hormones that play a part. There are many various reasons why someone will put on belly fat during their lifetime. Let’s go through a few.
Six reasons why we gain belly fat over our lifetime
- Sugar consumption – Many people believe they are eating healthy food, but most of us consume a lot more sugar in our diets than we realise. I thought that I was healthy, too – until I went on a bodybuilder diet to get ready for my first competition. Boy, was I completely wrong! I was eating so-called “gluten-free” packet rice crisps and many other horrible things I don’t even go near now. These things add up to belly fat – primarily due to the high fructose content of added sugars. Many of those packet convenient goods in supermarkets (and yes, that means protein bars too!) contain high fructose – especially corn syrup. Your metabolic rate drops when you consume a high fructose diet. There is even worse news for those who drink sweetened beverages. It’s effortless to consume these in more significant amounts – making them even more dangerous. Liquid calories don’t fill you up in the same way that solid food does. This is something to become very mindful of
- Trans fatty foods – the worst fat on planet earth! It’s apparent in muffins, cakes, crackers and any other kind of packet goods. Trans fat causes a lot of inflammation, leading to insulin resistance and many other diseases. These foods can cause excess belly fat. I would recommend you go for the good fats instead – like eggs, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. These fats fight belly fat, keep you full for more extended periods and nourish your body with vitamins & minerals.
- Alcohol – are you inclined to drink a few too many glasses of alcohol? We’re not talking about red wine here -that’s good for you (in moderate amounts, of course). Higher alcohol levels can lead to inflammation, liver disease, and probably guess, lots of health problems. Aim to drink one or less than one drink per day. Overconsumption is four or more per day, leading to excess belly fat (mainly if it contains lots of sugar). I don’t know the fascination people have with alcohol – I’ve never really enjoyed it – but I do like a cocktail once in a while (a low sweetened one, of course).
- Sitting on your backside for too long – Most people have generally become less and less active. This has most definitely played a role in the growing obesity rates – not to mention abdominal fat on the increase. It’s essential to exercise – even walking, every single day. It will increase your chances of losing body fat and even gaining your health back. For those chained to the office chair – make sure you do get up often and do some form of exercise to keep your health and weight in check. Try out weight training and some HIIT. These strategies blast belly fat (and body fat, mind you) as well as toning and shaping your body.
- Your gut bacteria – This is a big one. A lot of people don’t realise that having gut sensitivities can cause belly fat! Gut health is essential to maintain a healthy immune system and avoid disease (and belly fat). Having the wrong kind of gut bacteria can lead to belly fat and obesity. There is a fascinating study you can read about here. The study is based on lean and obese twins and their mothers. It confirms that families share a typical core flora that can influence weight gain, including where they are stored. This is excellent news for those who are already susceptible to genetic belly fat accumulation.
- Stress and high cortisol levels – Although cortisol is needed, too much can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. A lot of people are driven to overeat because of stress. Instead of the excess calories stored as fat all over the body, cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly. Women who have larger waists in proportion to their hips can secrete more cortisol when stressed. Learn to manage your stress in a way that resonates with you. I like to take long walks to get myself grounded again regularly – or perhaps listen to motivational audiobooks or meditate. Do whatever allows you to zone out and eliminate stress from becoming an accumulation on your waistline.
As you can see, there are so many factors that can attribute to belly fat accumulation. You can continuously monitor your nutrition and prioritise exercise and remain as stress-free as possible. LIfe will get the best of you most days, and that’s why it’s a great idea to have some stress fewer tools that you can use when the need arises.
Life is too short to lead it with poor nutrition and habits. If anything, think of what your life will be like five years from now. Do you want it to be the same as today – or do you want something better? Only you can decide and make the arrangements to change. I hope you found this article helpful.