- If you cant lose belly fat or are losing weight everywhere expect your stomach and you are consuming a healthy diet and even watching your calorie intake, it may be something else.
- In this article, you will learn about the 4 major causes of why you may still have belly fat (poor sleep, too much cortisol, poor digestion, and insulin resistance) and how to treat them.
So you have followed many belly fat diet plans, completely changed your diet, but still can’t lose belly fat? You may even be exercising and still, you are losing fat everywhere except your stomach. This can be incredibly frustrating, but after reading this article you will be back on track and on your way to having that flat belly that you’ve always wanted.
How Is Belly Fat Different From Other Fat
Belly fat is also known as abdominal fat or visceral fat. While some of the fat in your belly area is subcutaneous, meaning it’s under your skin, usually people have big bellies because the fat is around their organs, hence it being referred to as visceral fat. The problem with this type of fat is that it causes inflammation and pushes up estrogen levels. But what causes it?
It can be genetics as this plays a big role in how your body fat is distributed, for example, men tend to store fat in the belly area more than women. Despite this, as women age fat is stored in the abdomen more than their hips and thighs. Having said this, if your body is working as it should, it will not be holding onto belly fat.
The Top Causes of Belly Fat and Their Solutions
Assuming that you are eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, here are the major culprits. Let’s learn how to get rid of stubborn belly fat by treating the cause:
1. Poor Quality Sleep
Getting enough good quality sleep is one of the best things that you can do for your health. Not only does too little quality sleep cause low energy levels, but it messes up your hormones. You may have noticed that you are hungry more often after sleeping poorly.
This is because your hunger hormones, leptin which lets your brain know that you are full and ghrelin that tells your brain that you are hungry, are imbalanced leading you to think that you are always hungry. This can drive up your overall weight.
But specifically, the hormone that leads to belly fat most often, cortisol (the stress hormone), is released. This is because your brain interprets poor sleep quality or too little sleep as stress.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even the weekends.
- Sleep in a pitch dark room, there shouldn’t even be lights from electronics. A sleep mask can help with this.
- Stay away from your computer, TV, and phone an hour before bed. This includes any other LED screen which emits blue light as it tricks your brain into staying awake.
- Relaxing drinks an hour before bed like kava tea, chamomile tea, or tea blends containing valerian and passionflower can be helpful.
For more tips on getting some good quality sleep and why it is so important, read this article.
2. Chronic Stress (Cortisol Release)
Cortisol is one of the hormones released during stress to help people cope and in the short term, cortisol is healthy and actually lowers inflammation. But chronic stress results in the constant release of cortisol which leads to inflammation and due to that, abdominal fat. This is the case for both men and women.
- Meditation and deep breathing.
- Do things that you enjoy whether it is drawing, dancing, going for walks, or spending time with friends and family.
- Walks in nature (garden, forest, beach), this is also referred to as forest bathing.
- Exercise regularly as this will burn the extra energy released by your body’s stress hormones as well boost the release of endorphins (happy neurotransmitters (chemicals) in your brain). This makes exercise effective for anxiety and stress reduction.
- Think positively, even when your mind throws a negative thought at you, immediately think a positive thought. Do it long enough and it will become a habit.
- Write down or speak about all the things that you are thankful for each day.
3. Digestive Problems
While most people will associate digestive problems with bloating instead of belly fat, the fact of the matter is that the inflammation and an unhealthy gut biome that often accompanies the digestive problems can lead to belly fat. With a few changes, you can relieve the discomfort and bloat (which is often taken for belly fat) as well as take care of your belly fat.
Tips for Better Digestion:
- Identify the cause: You can do this by eliminating foods one by one for a few weeks at a time and then adding them back in to see if your symptoms come back.
- Specific sensitivities or intolerance: You may also notice that if you are struggling with digesting certain things your stools will show it. For example, carbohydrate intolerance will result in frothy stools and fat malabsorption in greasy stools. You may also find that if you eat certain things you get a rash, swelling, nausea, and/or vomiting. These are clear signs.
- Avoid or limit hard to digest foods: Grains are especially hard to digest and fuel inflammation. Processed and greasy foods should also be avoided. You may find a low carb diet beneficial.
- Go gluten-free: Even if you choose to eat grains, wheat is especially hard on your digestive tract.
- Pre and probiotics: Increase your good gut bacteria by eating foods like miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods: Increasing the number of vegetables you eat and adding omega 3 (in fatty fish and flax seeds) to your diet is very beneficial for reducing inflammation in your body. Anti-inflammatory spices include turmeric, cayenne pepper, and cloves.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV): Raw, unfiltered ACV containing the mother can be taken with water before meals to improve digestion. Add a teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water. Don’t drink more than 2 tablespoons of ACV a day as this can cause your body to become too alkaline.
4. Insulin (Being Prediabetic or Diabetic)
Insulin resistance and diabetes are linked to belly fat, and being overweight as a whole. Being overweight or obese can lead to insulin resistance and so the cycle just carries on once insulin resistance develops.
This is not only just a problem with type 2 diabetes, this is seen in those with type 1 diabetes too (type 1 diabetes is usually a genetic autoimmune disease, and rarely caused by lifestyle, though leaky gut caused by inflammation in the gut has been linked to autoimmune diseases).
The good news is that through diet and exercise, you can cure diabetes and prevent it:
- Eat a low carb and high-fat diet.
- Cut out processed foods.
- Eat only one serving of fruit a day.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day 3-6 days a week. HIIT is particularly effective and even as little as 10-15 minutes is beneficial.
If you are on insulin, you will eventually have no need for it anymore. You will need to go see your doctor any time there are significant drops in your weight so that your dose can be adjusted. Never stop taking your insulin without your doctor’s go-ahead.
If you worry that you have an Indian belly caused by Indian food, this is not the case. You can lose belly fat using this Indian belly fat diet plan.