Why We Gain Weight Around Our Stomach & How To Combat It
Weight gain around the abdominal area is a common concern for many of us and can often be a tricky area of the body to shake the weight from. There are a multitude of factors that can contribute to and be the culprit for holding fat around our middle.
Genes, Age & Hormones
Genetics plays a huge role in regards to our tendency to store body fat in certain areas and we can be genetically predisposed to certain body types. Individuals with an apple shaped figure tend to have a larger waist and carry excess weight around the abdomen.
As we get older, we tend to experience a natural shift of body fat to the abdominal area, as well as a natural slowing of metabolism. For women, menopause has a significant influence on weight. A decrease in the hormone Oestrogen as a result of menopause, as well as the natural slowing of metabolism, promotes an increase in body fat percentage which is characteristically stored around the tummy. This can even happen to women who usually tend to carry weight on their hips and thighs.
Other hormonal disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and underachieve thyroid conditions can affect body fat storage around the abdominal area. Women who suffer with PCOS have higher than normal testosterone levels which can subsequently result in weight gain.
Stress & Sleep
Stress can result in an increase in fat storage. Continuous or repeated levels of excess circulating cortisol and lead to an increase in fat storage around the tummy. This is as a result of Cortisol being able to promote the mobilisation of fat and energy from other areas of the body and then directing that mobilised fat to the abdominal area in an attempt to make energy ready available for organs. Unfortunately, we often do not utilise this energy and it is then excess energy that is stored as body fat in the abdominal area.
In regards to sleep, five hours or less each night has been correlated with increased percentage of abdominal fat. Sleep deprivation leads to a decrease in metabolism. This is the body’s mechanism to preserve energy. It also stimulates our body to store fat.
Excess sugar & processed foods
When cortisol levels are elevated (often as a result of stress), we tend to crave sugar (usually a quick release, refined sugar). It can be quite a vicious cycle. When we experience stress, our body releases cortisol, we crave sugar and eat sugar, we then gain weight around our abdomen, crave more sugar and eat more sugar, and gain more weight.
Consuming foods that have poor nutritional quality, are highly process or contain high levels of saturated and trans fats can cause weight gain around the stomach area as well. This is commonly attributed to packaged foods and take away foods. Consuming high quantities of these foods can lead to increased internal inflammation, it can drive insulin resistance and result in an accumulation of tummy fat.
How to combat it:
Regular exercise is an excellent tool for promoting the burins of stubborn tummy fat. Build muscle through strength training (and give extra concentration to your core) as well as cardio and high intensity interval training. This also gives our bodies an opportunity to burn through excess energy that would otherwise be stored.
Address stress and sleep in a productive manner. Identify positive stress in comparison to negative stress. Target the negative stress and try to mange this through mindfulness and meditation. Turn to something or someone that is not food when feeling stressed or emotional. Try to adopt a regulated sleeping pattern with similar sleep and waking times. Aim for 8 hours per night. The power of sleep is underestimated!
A balanced diet
Consume a nutritionally balanced diet containing food from each of the five food groups. Ensure you diet is calorie controlled and of a lower carbohydrate content to promote the mobilisation and burning of fat. Consume adequate quantities of protein and dietary fibre; this can assist with promoting satiety, keeping you fuller for longer. Include healthy fats, particularly omega-3, 6 and 9, and limit saturated fat and refined sugar. A nutrient-rich diet helps to control hormones, balance blood sugar levels and promote a healthy metabolism.
Be Fit Food!
Complete up to 8 weeks of the Be Fit Food Be Rapid meal program for rapid weight loss. Be Rapid is designed to target tummy fat through mild nutritional ketosis. This allows your body to use stored body fat as an energy source rather than relying on glucose (sugar), therefore promoting weight loss. After completion of Be Rapid, you can then manage your new weight through cycling the Be Rapid meal program every quarter for one to two weeks. This can help with metabolism regulation and sustained weight loss.