Ask anyone on a weight loss journey and he/she will tell you how difficult it is to lose belly fat. Even someone who appears to be lean, that person might not have fat on his/her face, arms or legs, but on the belly. Losing weight aside, belly fat can make you prone to type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, etc. Hence, it’s crucial to manage it.
Before we look into why it is so difficult to reduce belly fat, it is important to understand what it is made of. In your abdomen, under the belly is subcutaneous fat, which is the pinchable fat you can feel. Under it is the abdomen muscle, which you strengthen doing all those crunches. Then comes the visceral fat, which surrounds the organs. Excessive amounts of it make us prone to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why is it difficult to reduce belly fat?
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This depends on person-to-person, his/her lifestyle, food habits, whether he/she exercises or not, if that person has a hormonal imbalance, or if on medication. However, several common factors affect affect fat accumulation on the belly:
Fat cells are of two types: alpha and beta. The former responds better than the latter to fat breakdown, or lipolysis. You would often find it to shed off the fat on the face, neck, arms and legs, as these areas have more alpha fat cells. On the other hand, fat on your hips, thighs and belly is difficult to shed due to a greater concentration of beta fat cells.
Your food intake, both its quantity and quality, affects your overall body in general and belly fat in particular. Excessive consumption of starchy carbohydrates and bad fats can make you gain fat around your belly.
Not just detrimental to your mental health, stress can make your body gain fat around the belly. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, which also manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. When you are stressed, it signals your body to store fat in your abdomen, making you gain belly fat.
Nutrition for your brain, a good night’s sleep is crucial for your overall health. But do you know that lack of sleep can make you gain belly fat? This is because lack of sleep hampers the brain's decision-making ability. It also revs up the brain’s reward-seeking centre, which the body tries to satiate with food, generally sugary, high in fat foods. It also increases nighttime cravings and studies suggest that at that time, we go for unhealthy snacks.
In the end, your genes have a role to play in that. Just like several aspects of your life, your genetic disposition plays a role in how much belly fat you accumulate.
How to reduce belly fat?
Although it’s difficult to reduce belly fat, it isn’t impossible. This is what you can do about it:
Watch your food
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Nutrition plays a huge role in weight loss. To shed belly fat, consume protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Protein triggers the hormone leptin, which makes us feel full. Eat healthier fats such as fish, nuts, and avocados and moderately cut down on carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread and sugar.
It’s no secret that refined sugar is bad for your health. It also makes you gain belly fat. So cut down, or if possible, eliminate that from your diet. You can replace it with healthier options like honey, jaggery, etc.
Having an active lifestyle is crucial for good health. Try to incorporate exercises in your routine, which can be anything walking, doing Yoga, working out in the gym, etc.
Although some level of stress is needed at crucial moments, too much of it can wreak havoc on your whole system. To lower its amount, incorporate exercise in your routine. Do Yoga and meditation. Seek medical help if needed.
As we have seen how sleep can affect not just our mental health, it has an impact on our physical health as well. Do what you need for a good night’s sleep. Sleep and wake up at the same time, limit caffeine intake later in the day and don’t spend time in the night as it disrupts your circadian rhythm and affects sleep.
Losing weight and having a healthy lifestyle is important for a fulfilled life. However, the desire to lose weight should come from a positive mindset, not because society dictates you to weigh a certain amount and look a certain way. Always remember, you are fabulous the way you are!!!
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