"Ate salad for dinner! Mostly croutons and tomatoes.
Really just one big, round crouton covered with tomato sauce. And cheese.
Fine, it was pizza. I ate a pizza."
You are a genius; I will prove it!
If you are looking to learn about 'how to lose belly fat' and you have landed on this page to find out the cause of your belly fat, you are among those rare high-IQ individuals who believe in the cause-effect model. I am writing this because 90% of obese people are not interested in knowing the cause of their problem; their only focus is on the question ‘how to lose weight', without knowing its causes.
Funny? Maybe, but this is true!
It is always a good idea to understand the cause of a health problem before attempting to correct it. Understanding the cause of a problem gives direction to your efforts that are aimed at solving the problem.
If you don’t know the cause – you don’t have a direction! Efforts wasted!
So, you are clearly a genius if you are looking for the cause of your belly fat before you learn how to get rid of belly fat!
So, before you learn how to lose stomach fat, let’s see which factors cause or contribute to its development.
01 - Stress
This is perhaps the most widely prevailing cause of excess belly fat and perhaps the most frequently overlooked one too.
Any exposure to stress initiates a series of events termed ‘stress response’ in the body. Although stress response is essential for survival, it becomes a disease when it is prolonged. Stress response produces a chemical substance called ‘cortisol’ which causes fat deposition in midsection. Other negative effects include high blood pressure, insulin resistance and deranged lipids.
02 - Gender / Sex hormones
Fat distribution in the body is influenced by how sex hormones work. Belly fat is more common in males as compared to females.
So, whether you are male or female affects how fats are distributed in your body. Women tend to store more fats in their legs and hips. Men on the other hand store fats in and around abdomen. This distribution has far reaching implications.
Men are more prone to develop cardiovascular problems due to the fats stored in their abdomen. Women are comparatively immune to this risk.
03 - Age
Among males, the amount of belly fat continues to increase with age. The same is almost true about postmenopausal females.
04 - Exercise
Sedentary lifestyle boosts belly fat accumulation. On the contrary, exercise prevents the belly fat from accumulating more glucose and lipids to increase its mass.
When compared to subcutaneous fat, the belly fat more readily dissolves in response to exercise.
05 - Sleep apnea and sleep deprivation
Whether obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes belly fat or belly fat causes OSA is unclear so far. But research has shown that both are part of a vicious cycle where one contributes to the aggravation of the other.
Sleep deprivation due to sleep fragmentation contributes to diabetes development and worsening obesity.
06 - Sugars
Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup are the main culprits here.
A can of soda provides you around 150 calories of energy. This is in addition to your usual calorie intake, since soda or soft drink consumption does not enhance the feeling of satiety.
Your body has to handle the total calorie intake, which includes your routine food calories plus the extra calories that your beverage provides.
07 - Refined carbs
How are carbs refined?
When nutrients, bran and fibers are removed from carbs, they are considered refined.
Common refined carbs that you may consume daily include breakfast cereals, white flour, white rice, white bread, pasta and pastries etc. Blood glucose level rises sharply after their consumption and they contribute more mass to your belly fat.
08 - Trans fats
Nature has gifted us ‘unsaturated’ fats. But since we do not want to consume ‘fresh’ foodstuff, we have developed ways to store it for years.
And how do we preserve fats?
We pump hydrogen atoms into the unsaturated fats to extend their shelf life!
But what do we lose during this change?
All the ‘healthiness’ of fats!
Simple formula: more trans fats = more belly fat.
09 - Alcohol
Have you ever heard the term ‘beer belly’?
This pretty much explains what alcohol does to your belly fat.
Heavy drinkers (> 3 drinks/day) tend to have more belly fat than people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol.
10 - Intestinal factors
Mainly two factors related to your intestines can increase belly fat:
In some disease conditions the intestines become inflamed e.g. Crohn disease. Hence the gut's barrier function becomes impaired, which allows leakage of certain chemical substances to the belly fat, which therefore demonstrates growth.
They are an essential part of your gut flora. These bacteria contribute to the breakdown of foods that pass through your intestine. But some species of bacteria can increase the amount of calories that are absorbed from food and contribute to belly fat increase.
11 - Low-protein diet
When your diet is low in proteins, your appetite increases. You are forced to eat more and hence contribute more to your belly fat.
12 - Fiber content of food
Legumes, beans, peas and oats provide you soluble fiber, which is considered to be preventive against belly fat. Soluble fiber prolongs the transit time of food through intestines, thereby giving a feeling of ‘fullness’; hence food intake is reduced.
Insoluble fiber on the other hand shortens the transit time and makes room for more food too soon. Wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains provide insoluble fibers.
13 - Menopause
Ever heard the term ‘menopause belly’?
It pretty much explains how belly fat increases after menopause.
Although it is not universal, yet many women report adding pounds to their belly during their post-menopausal years. Researchers relate this to the dropping estrogen levels, which causes fat cells to store more fats.
14 - Genetics
Fat storage at different sites within body affects body differently. Recent evidence suggests that genes play a key role in determining where fat is stored in the body.
This may be true, but this is of course beyond your control so far.
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