Finding it hard to fit in your jeans? What does this increase in waistline mean? This article is all about what causes belly fat? And what health risks are associated with belly fat.
For women, an increasing waistline is sometimes taken for granted with increasing age, especially after menopause. But belly fat carries some serious health risks along with it. Excess belly fat is extremely unhealthy and increases health problems. Belly fat is a factor for many diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, breathing problems and even cancer.
The medical term for this belly fat is called “Central Obesity” caused by unhealthy fat in the belly. Central fat, also known as Visceral fat is fat surrounding the liver and other organs in the abdominal region.
Do you have an excess belly? This central obesity and health risks? Do you stand in the danger zone? Measure your waistline and find out.
There are 2 ways to measure belly fat:
- Waist circumference.
- Waist to hip ratio.
Measure Waist Circumference:
- Remove or pull up your clothes for accurate measurements. Stand and place a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hipbone.
- Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you, but doesn’t push into your skin. Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
- Relax, exhale and measure your waist, resisting the urge to suck in your stomach.
For a woman, if your waist circumference is at 89cm or more, it indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat and a greater risk of health problems.
Measure Waist to hip ratio:
- Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
The health risks are greater if your ratio is >= 0.85 for women.
Top 9 causes for belly fat
If you are in the danger zone with excess belly fat, here are the top 9 reasons for belly fat.
Sweeteners, Beverages, and Sugary Foods
Sugar consumption is becoming more with an increase in consumption of processed foods, beverages, sweeteners, and many people take in more sugar than they realize. High-sugar foods like cakes, frozen yogurt, sodas, drinks like coffee and fruit juices are getting very popular. Studies show excess fructose in sweeteners causes belly fat.
Less Physical Activities
Many of us have a sedentary lifestyle. This has become one of the biggest causes of belly fat and poor health. With more facilities, people have become lazier and less active. Watching TV, working in front of the laptop, and taking no time for any physical activities has been leading to excess fat and abdominal obesity.
Low Protein and Low Fiber Diets
Protein and fiber diets are very important in preventing weight gain. And when the diet has low protein and low fiber they cause belly fat. Protein and fibrous foods keep you full, increase your metabolic rate and also reduces calorie intake. When you have less protein in your diet, you feel more hungry and this increases the hunger hormone neuropeptide Y. Similarly, high fibrous whole grains and foods help in reducing abdominal fat.
Alcohol does more harm than good. Red wine when consumed in limits can lower the heart attack risks. But, when consumed uncontrollably causes belly fat, excess weight, liver problems, and inflammations.
The Wrong Gastrointestinal Tract Bacteria
There are hundreds of bacteria living in the gut – gastrointestinal tract. Many of then benefit health but there are few which cause problems. These bacterias are called gut flora or microbiome. This helps in increasing immunity and fighting diseases. Any imbalance in gut flora causes health issues and increase the risks of getting diabetes, and weight gain including central obesity. This type of bacteria – Firmicutes bacteria calorie inputs from foods and are found in high numbers in obese people than normal people.
Fruit Juice instead of the Whole Fruit
Drinking fruit juices instead of eating the whole fruit has more calories. The natural unsweetened fruit juice contains lots of sugar. It is a sugary beverage in disguise. Fruit juice has vitamins and mineral but it contains fructose which drives insulin resistance and increases belly fat. When a whole fruit is eaten, it keeps you full. While a glass of fruit juice is better than water but has more calories than the fruit and doesn’t satisfy your appetite and causes belly fat.
Stress and Cortisol
Women managing both home and office are always in pressure and often in stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone that is generated by the adrenal glands. When cortisol volume is high, it causes abdominal fat. Stress drives overeating and cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly.
Family history and genetics play a major role in obesity and belly fat. Fat storage in the abdomen is influenced by genes. Genes play a vital role in the high waist-to-hip ratio and in central obesity.
Not Enough Sleep
Poor sleep, inadequate sleep increases abdominal fat. Sleep is very crucial for good health. Women who sleep less than 5 hours per night are more likely to gain 10 kg than those who sleep at least 7 hours. Sleep disorders also cause belly fat accumulation and tend to make pear shaped body.
Along with the above 9 causes for belly fat, Menopause is one of the main causes of belly fat in women. Menopause causes hormonal changes which result in a shift in fat storage from hips and thighs to the abdomen causing central obesity.
How to trim belly fat?
Genes and hormonal changes cannot be controlled but there are other ways to trim belly fat. Here are a few pointers to reduce your belly fat. To know in depth, check 15 tips to lose belly fat.
Eat a healthy diet.
Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Add high protein, high fibrous foods in your daily diet. Avoid trans fat and processed foods. Here are the top 10 fat burning foods.
Avoid Sugary Beverages and Juices
Any artificial sweetener is a big NO. Try to go for whole fruits rather than juices. Avoid processed foods and drinks.
Eat in limited calories
Even when you’re making healthy choices, calories add up. At home, slim down your portion sizes. In restaurants, share meals — or eat half your meal and take the rest home.
Include physical activity in your daily routine.
Find time for physical activities. Go for 30 mins of brisk walking 5 days a week. Join Yoga, Aerobics, strength training or HIIT. But physical activities are a must for burning calories and weight loss.
Sleep well and less stress
Do meditation, exercise and reduce stress. find the joy in your life. Take out time for yourself and sleep on time and reduce stress.
There are many different reasons and causes that gain excess belly fat. While you can’t control genetic causes and hormonal changes like in menopause. But by including few healthy changes in lifestyle you can control your belly fat and help in losing weight. Making healthy choices about what to eat and what to avoid, how much you exercise and how you manage stress can all help you lose belly fat.