Here's Why Your Big Belly Won't Budge

in StemSocial3 months ago

I've been spending some time at the gym lately trying to keep fit and I really enjoy how I feel. A friend says she can't see the difference in my body and sincerely, I don't think it's obvious. The aim is to keep fit and not necessarily to lose a ton of weight.

Several times, people at the gym say I don't need to be there and I tell them I just want to be fit and lose belly fat. The next question is, "what belly fat?" I put in effort in doing situps to reduce belly fat because it can be uncomfortable carrying extra weight in the belly plus these clothes won't wear themselves. I've outgrown most of my clothes already.

I've never had a flat belly and I still have the same shape of belly I've had since I was a kid. The difference is now that I'm older, I have a lot of fluctuations with my belly. Sometimes it gets almost flat, other times it gets bigger maintaining its regular size. There are also times it looks pregnant. What's funny is that it can maintain any of these shapes at any point, whenever it feels like. It gets worrisome especially when I'm feeling bloated.

Being a woman, a lot of body changes can be attributed to hormones or the monthly cycle. It's very easy to self-diagnose and conclude with so much information available on the internet but it's better to read and have an idea of what might be the cause of whatever it is that's bothering you. So this got me reading, what causes a big belly? It's easy to say food but then there are people like me who don't eat a lot and still have to deal with the extra belly fat.

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Pexels

Here are my findings

It's hereditary. Yes, genetics play a role in belly fat, if both parents have a big belly, it's not surprising that they pass this on to their children. Some parts of the body will tend to store more fat where the parents normally have fat stored in their own bodies.

Sugar is a culprit. All of that sugary sweet stuff causes you to gain weight, slow down metabolism and makes it difficult for the body to burn fat. Eating too many carbs and not including proteinous foods that are filling also cause belly fat.

Alcoholic intake. Studies have shown there's a connection between alcohol and increased appetite. Also, men tend to get belly fat from excessive intake of alcohol than women.

Inactivity. A lot of people now live a sedentary lifestyle especially since the covid pandemic, having to work from home. This means sitting for long hours and not doing a lot of activity. Not burning as much fat as you consume leads to the accumulation of fat especially around the abdomen.

Dealing With Abdominal Fat

Excess fat can be found under the skin (subcutaneous fat), the type you can see and pinch. Visceral fat is the type of fat under the abdomen, surrounding the organs. In women, the body preferably sends fat to the waist for easy access to the organs when they need it. Now, this type of fat poses some health risks and is harder to lose.

In burning fat, you need some fat because the body depends on fat for energy. You would need polyunsaturated fat, the type you get from eating fish like mackerel instead of a saturated fat diet like milk or beef. Research has shown that a diet high in saturated fat activates the genes that are related to abdominal fat storage.

A research showing how disrupting the circadian clock leads to obesity suggests that at night, there is an increase in insulin resistance which leads to higher blood sugar when you eat heavy meals at night. This eventually leads to higher insulin levels and obesity when done regularly. So yes, everything you heard about eating late is true. You have to stop eating late.

I mentioned earlier that eating too many carbs is one of the causes of belly fat. It's worse when you're genetically predisposed to abdominal fat but that doesn't even matter because high sugar intake signals the pancreas to make more insulin causing more fat storage for most people.

Cutting out sugar hasn't been the easiest for me but I've been able to drastically cut down. The gray area right now is watching my diet and being mindful of the type of fat I'm taking in. It's hard because my Nigerian diet comprises mainly of saturated fat but I do what I can.

PCOS and abdominal fat

So not only did I learn that genetics and not eating the right type of fat play a huge role in belly fat, I also learnt that for women, certain hormonal conditions like PCOS can cause a big belly. Most women with polycystic ovary syndrome exhibit abdominal fat and/or obesity. This is because they are insulin resistant and have more male hormones than usual (males tend to store fat in their belly).

PCOS is common with women of childbearing age and has no known cause. It also cannot be permanently treated but can be managed. Regular, less stressful exercise is advised for women with PCOS to shed extra weight and abdominal fat. A healthy diet peculiar to them also helps.

In conclusion, if you're like me, confused as to why you don't seem to shed your belly fat despite regular workouts and a tweaked diet, maybe it's high time you visit the doctor (especially if you're a woman). Let's not forget that abdominal fat puts you at risk for a number of chronic illnesses so it's not just for the aesthetics.

REFERENCES

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4

  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it

  3. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/g19911673/how-to-lose-more-belly-fat/

  4. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(13)00083-3

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I'm not looking to join fitness fam anytime soon, but the relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain is one which I always find interesting to think about.

Even if you don't eat late, sleeping less than 7 hours a day is associated with weight gain (Lyytikäinen et al., 2011) because the lack of sleep alters the balance of hormones that regulate appetite and satiety (Knutson & van Cauter, 2008; van Cauter et al., 2007). So even if you resist eating at night, it'll still affect your day time eating in the long term.

Also,in terms of late night eating lemme just add some specifics, it's advised you eat 3 hours or more prior to sleeping, and that you sleep at least 7 hours

Good job on this piece, I absolutely love the subject and approach.

Even if you don't eat late, sleeping less than 7 hours a day is associated with weight gain (Lyytikäinen et al., 2011) because the lack of sleep alters the balance of hormones that regulate appetite and satiety (Knutson & van Cauter, 2008; van Cauter et al., 2007)

I read about this too in the research journal I cited in this post. It's amazing how the body works.

Thanks so much for contributing.

All other things being equal, all you need to be doing is burning more carbs than you take-in. Once you can burn more than you take, you are on your way to fitness.

Yes. I'm becoming a regular at the gym now.

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 3 months ago Reveal Comment

Downvoted due to @hakeemshah96's insincere copy-paste spam compliments.

 3 months ago Reveal Comment

Downvoted due to @hakeemshah96's insincere copy-paste spam compliments.