Losing belly fat is not only for vanity. Extra belly fat, especially visceral fat, is a signal of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven’t done enough to help you slim down, then there may be others reasons for which you haven’t been able to lose belly fat.
As you age, your body goes through a change in weight management as both men and women experience decreased metabolism. Moreover, women also have to deal with menopause, as Michael Jensen, MD, professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division puts it: “If women put on weight after menopause strikes, it will likely go to their bellies.”
When menopause occurs, estrogen and progesterone production slows down while testosterone levels also decreases, but at a slower pace. This change in hormones means women will deposit fat in the belly area. However, the good news is that this process can be fought.
You’re Not Doing the Right Workout
A daily Spin class or run is good for cardio, but this type of exercise alone will not do wonders on your waist. “You must do a mix of both cardio and weights,” says Sangeeta Kashyap, MD, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. You burn more fat and you increase muscle mass when you do more strength training.
Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic: ” you naturally burn more calories per day by having more muscle since muscle burns more calories than fat.” Patton suggests 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week and 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
Too Many Processed Foods
“Refined brains such as crackers, white bread and chips, along with refined sugars in desserts and various drinks increase inflammation in our bodies,” says Patton. “Belly fat is linked with inflammation, so consuming too many processed foods will jeopardize your ability to lose belly fat.” Natural foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits are full of anti-inflammatory properties as they are rich in antioxidants, thus stopping belly fat from forming.
From deadlines to bills, from family problems to commuting, whatever your source of stress may be, having too much of it makes it harder to lose belly fat. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to resort to eating high-fat and high-calorie foods. Another explanation is that cortisol, the stress hormone in your body, clings to fat cells and enlarges them. It has been proven that you have more visceral fat when cortisol levels are high.
Sometimes we are all lacking the commitment needed to lose belly fat. Dr. Kashyap says: “Losing belly requires a mixed approach of weight and cardio training along with a low-calorie diet that is low in carbs and sugar, and high in fiber. If you’re up to do the required work, you can move past genetics and finally lose belly fat.”
If you have high testosterone levels, you might find it difficult to lose belly fat. “If you’re overweight or apple shaped, it is always a good idea to see your doctor,” says Dr. Kashyap. You may also want to check if you are diabetic or prediabetic. Also, consider testosterone levels may be high due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).