Belly fat: what you need to know

Back in the days (in some parts of the world) it was like a great thing to develop belly fat (“pot belly”) or abdominal fat. You were seen as a big man, someone that had “arrived” or the boss and would even be the envy of your friends/peers.

Wow, how times change! Nowadays, with almost everyone being quite health and appearance conscious and the fashion industry making matters worse!, pot belly is no longer seen in the same vein; it is now seen as a source/cause for worry because, not only is it unflattering and often times unsightly, it might also be a predisposing factor to certain diseases: diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and even stroke!

Though a greater chance of developing abdominal fat is with being overweight, some slim people (even those with healthy BMI) can also develop it and the reason is not farfetched.

Hereditary (genetics) plays a role in developing belly fat and so does aging because with aging, comes a lot of changes in the body: hormonal imbalance (oestrogen levels decrease, cortisol level increase), risk of developing insulin resistance, loss of muscle mass, which most often is being replaced by fat.

Other things that can lead to abs fat include:

  • Stress: also affects hormone levels causing an increase in cortisol level and this triggers the body to store fat in abs.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Unhealthy eating: high fat, high calorie diets, emotional eating.

You might wonder how emotional eating does this, as we have discussed (please see topic on emotional eating), you are prone to binge on high calorie foods and with time belly fat develops.

Your body type also plays a role in where fat is being deposited. People with “APPLE” shape are more prone to gaining weight around their abdomen while “PEAR” shaped individuals tend to gain weight more around their hips. Also, women with waistline greater than 35 or men with waistline greater than 40, are prone to developing abdominal fat.

The question now arises; what can be done to lose this or how can we prevent ourselves from developing belly fat?

  • Abdominal fat might be quite difficult to lose because of aging and hormonal fluctuations; however, life style modification can play a big role.
  • The advantages of exercise cannot be over emphasised. You have to be physically active, even getting 30 mins of exercise daily does a lot. Please bear in mind that abs crunches alone is not that effective, you have to incorporate strength/core exercises like Planking etc. into your routine as they tone up the muscle, preventing fat from being stored. Aerobics are also great.
  • Yoga is another great option; it relieves both stress and tones up the core.
  • Eat healthy: fruits, vegetables, lean meat and avoid sugary and processed carbohydrates. Please no yo-yo or crash dieting as you end up sending negative signals to your body to store up fat!
  • Ensure you always catch up on your beauty sleep.
  • Last but not least, try as much as possible to avoid or limit stress and stressful situations, and you know what they say, laughter is a great medicine so in any situation as difficult as it might seem, I suggest you look at the positive side and have a cause to laugh.
Keep well, stay active and please share!


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