It’s widely known in the workout world that summer bodies are made in the winter. While you may not be a fitness fanatic, it does make sense. After all, we spend the colder months under bulky layers that are able to hide unsightly belly fat. What nutritionists, doctors and fitness trainers know about what causes belly fat gives them a “leg up” on us regular folk! Don’t fear- we’re here to help you understand why you may have belly fat and what it takes to get rid of it in these last few months of cold weather. Best results occur over a period of time, approximately 2-3 months, making winter/spring an ideal time to make the body you want for summer.
What Causes Belly Fat and Why is Stomach Fat So Stubborn?
When talking to people about weight loss, they usually associate it with fat loss. If you ask people which area they would like to focus their fat loss on, most would tell you they’d like to lose belly fat. Fat loss in this area can be tough. In fact, belly fat loss occurs at a slower rate than other body fat. There are a number of factors that contribute to this.
Dubbed the spare tire, love handles or muffin top, stubborn belly fat is anything but cute. You’ll likely see magazines and websites littered with tips to lose belly fat, but it’s smart to understand why it’s there in the first place. Here’s how it takes up residence on your valuable body’s real estate:
For one, there are more fat cells in the belly and they don’t respond to lipolysis (the fat breakdown process) as easily as fat cells in other areas of the body. The primary reason for this is the type of receptors found in belly fat cells. Fat cells contain 2 types of receptors; alpha and beta receptors. Basically, alpha receptors slow lipolysis down and beta receptors trigger lipolysis. Fat cells in the stomach area have a higher amount of alpha receptors, which makes them more stubborn to get rid of. This is why when you start a fat loss program, you see results in the face, arms and chest before you lose the belly fat.
Another reason may be the foods you’re eating. Eating ‘saturated fats’, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats at proper levels, can actually help you reduce belly fat. Avocados, olive oil and salmon all fall under these categories of fats, so make sure you add them or similar foods to your diet every day. Trans fats found in most processed foods can cause inflammation, weight gain and even lead to heart disease. Eating processed foods, such as refined grains and sugars are typically packed with calories and lead to an excess of fat storage in our bodies. Sugary foods, such as sweets, soda and fruit juice reduce your ability to burn fat, so try and eliminate these types of foods from your diet every day to lose fat.
Don’t have time for exercise? Then don’t complain about belly fat, say experts. An inactive lifestyle makes it hard for a person to get rid of excess fat, particularly around the belly. Thankfully, we have some exercises that fit into any busy schedule. Stay tuned for more to come in this area!
Stress is another factor related to adding more fat around your middle section and is a given in most of our lives. Stress hormones actually encourage your body to store more of that hard to lose belly fat. When we choose to manage our stress rather than letting it manage us however, we take back control. Family and work obligations, difficult relationships and limited time on our hands means cortisol levels can spike. This leads to making poor decisions like indulging in comfort food or being glued to electronics. Even worse, cortisol encourages excess calories to turn into fat that remains around the belly. Talk about a double-whammy! It may be easier said than done, but reducing your stress levels does help with fat loss, not to mention your overall well being.
The last factor we’ll mention here is age. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and fewer calories are needed by the body to maintain functionality. If adjustments aren’t made to what and how much you are eating, you are more likely to accumulate more fat throughout your body.
So, if you’re looking to lose belly fat, you may need a little extra help. Read on to learn how we help with belly fat loss.
Types of Belly Fat
Now that we’ve talked about how it gets there, let’s explore the two types of undesirable (and unhealthy) belly fat.
- Subcutaneous belly fat is the kind that most people see when they look in the mirror. This is the type that is visible right under the skin, producing a “roll”, muffin top or overall puffy midsection. No matter how many sit-ups you may do, it doesn’t go away leaving you extremely frustrated.
- Visceral fat is the invisible belly fat your doctor is concerned about, for good reason. Visceral fat sneaks in between the organs in your abdomen, suffocating proper circulation and inhibiting their ability to work at full capacity. This dangerous belly fat contributes to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and of course, weight gain.
Getting Rid of Belly Fat
So, if you’re trying to get rid of that fat belly, how can you do it? Whether you’ve accumulated extra belly fat through being neglectful of proper nutrition and exercise, child-bearing or aging, we have a solution to help you lose fat. First, we advise all our clients to adopt a healthy, well-rounded diet. Controlling what you put into your body does more than just help you look good. The benefits of healthy eating include deeper sleep, clear skin, being less prone to infection and disease and healthy bones, muscles and weight.
Second, we encourage our valued clients to exercise in whatever way works best for their situation. Let’s face it, not everyone has the time, energy or desire to get into strength training or committing to doing 50 crunches per day. Daily walks, weekend bike rides, relaxing yoga before bed or fitness classes are all ways we’ve seen success in our practices. We’ll be sharing some of our favorite ways to fit in fitness to reduce belly fat soon!