If you’ve ever scooted into a favorite pair of jeans and then suddenly realized they were impossible to zip up, you’re certainly not alone. Widening waistlines are rampant these days, especially among Americans. That we’re getting fatter as a nation is no consolation when you want to fit into your skinny jeans, however.
What makes people put on belly weight?
Abdominal fat affects different genders differently. Prior to menopause, most women who gain excess weight do so around their lower body. Men tend to put most of their excess weight right around their middle. After menses cease, women may pack on pounds around their belly as easily as men do.
Behavior and lifestyle can have an incredible impact on whether or not a person carries a lot of belly fat. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with overeating is the biggest cause of belly fat in America. Smoking too much and drinking to excess can contribute to belly-based fat, as well.
Eating a big meal shortly before going to bed can cause an increase of belly fat. So can a diet that’s deficient in protein. Eating while stressed and receiving too-little deep sleep can also contribute to around-the-belly weight gain. It is interesting to note that a diet that is too low in monounsaturated fats can also cause the body to pack on pounds around the abdomen.
Lifespan magazine notes that the regular consumption of carbonated beverages can easily lead to weight gain around the middle. It’s not just sugary beverages that are the culprit: artificially sweetened soft drinks can increase appetite and trigger the same weight gain as their sugar-sweetened counterparts.
Isn’t all body fat the same?
Actually, it is not. According to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York, accumulated abdominal fat is the result of the expansion of existing fat cells. Thigh and butt fat, on the other hand, is caused by newly-added adipose tissue, more commonly known as fat. Dr. Michael Jensen is an endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic. He explains that even a small weight gain of four pounds over the course of eight weeks can add more than 2.5 billion fat cells to the hips and thighs.
How can one target the belly for weight loss?
One of the first things to do in order to shed pounds and inches is to create a caloric deficit. This is a fancy way of saying to eat fewer calories than you burn in a day. By consuming less food than the body spends in calories, a person can boost something called their “metabolic resting rate” wherein the body obtains some or all of the energy it needs to function from stored fat deposits.
Adding a vigorous exercise program to a caloric deficit can jump-start weight loss and cause the body to continue shrinking fat cells, says Vixen Daily. High-intensity workouts that combine aerobic and anaerobic exercises can be very effective for people who wish to lose belly fat and keep it off. Examples of high-intensity workouts include squats, lunges and sprinting. Certain exercise machines that provide resistance can also be used to burn calories and decrease body and belly fat while toning muscles.
Moderate-intensity workouts can go a long way toward burning dangerous and unsightly belly fat, too. Bicycling, stair-climbing and swimming may actually help a person to maintain an advanced level of fat oxidation than super intensive, high-energy workouts. Interval training that combines both high- and moderate-intensity practices may be the most effective of all.
How to keep belly fat from coming back
To lose belly fat, you’ll need to adopt a new way of eating. To keep those lost pounds from coming back, you’ll need to stick with your new healthy eating plan.
People who maintain a flat belly tend to practice similar good habits. For one thing, people with flat bellies generally eat only when they feel hungry. They don’t open the refrigerator when they’re depressed, and they don’t eat just because they are bored.
To keep a newly-flat belly, be sure to get enough sleep. Studies show that people who are sleep deprived have slower and less effective resting metabolisms than folks who almost always get a full eight hours of sleep at night.
Eat lighter and be sure to get a bit of monounsaturated fat in your diet every day. Olive oil and avocados and a great source of healthful dietary fat. Get enough sleep, more than you sit still, and before you know it, your belly fat will be gone.
Demi Armstrong is a health and nutritionist consultant who wants to get people fit, not just slim – There’s a difference! She writes informative healthy living articles which appear mostly on women’s lifestyle sites.