Reasons why Belly fat is stubborn
Whether it's from missing out on sleep to genetic factors, there are plenty of reasons why abdominal fat, which can be a predictor of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and even some cancers, may be stubbornly sticking around for so many people in our population. So what does this mean? It means that exercising and eating right may not be enough to get rid of your stubborn belly fat. Getting rid of belly fat is important for more than just physical appearance. Excess abdominal fat particularly visceral fat, the kind that surrounds your organs and protrudes the stomach out is a predictor of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and some cancers. If diet and exercise haven’t done much to reduce your stomach, then hormones, your age and other genetic factors may be the reason why.
There’s one naturally occurring human hormone in particular which could be causing you to retain belly fat. Cortisol is the stress hormone. It’s an important hormone that’s essential for human survival. For instance, whenever your body experiences any type of stress, whether it be mental or physical, the body secretes cortisol which then initiates a cascade of other physiological responses necessary for your body to keep functioning. You can look at it like an emergency generator. If the main source of electricity goes out in your area from some unforeseen incident, the emergency generator kicks in to give you power until the main source is fixed. But the emergency generator isn’t meant to provide power for the long term. And that’s a lot like your cortisol. Cortisol turns off many of the normal physiological mechanisms and turns on many temporary physiological mechanisms - the operative word being temporary.
In a normal situation, cortisol production only lasts for a short period of time and afterwards, all metabolic functions go back to normal. Yet this is where things can go wrong, because in many cases these stresses that cause your body to secrete cortisol occur way too often and stay on for way too long. So when you’re body experiences constant stress, it continuously secretes cortisol and which is when cortisol becomes counterproductive to your body. Depending on how long and how much cortisol is circulating in your body, it can seriously compromise your health and alter your metabolic process causing you to gain stubborn unrelenting belly fat. Researchers at Yale University found slender women who had high cortisol also had more abdominal fat. So, if you tend to gain belly fat easily and have a difficult time getting rid of it, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re producing too much cortisol. If you’re constantly feeling tired, it means you’re not recovering enough. Inadequate recovery means that your body still has cortisol coursing through your body. In situations like this, it’s best to give yourself a break and and let your body rest. Your only going to do your body more disservice by pushing through the fatigue. In fact, you’ll only be increasing your cortisol production and making your belly fat even more difficult to burn off.
If you’re among the 30% of North Americans who sleep less than six hours a night, here’s one simple way to whittle your waistline: GET MORE SLEEP. A 16-year study of almost 70,000 women in the US found that those who slept five hours or less a night were 30% more likely to gain 30 or more pounds than those who slept seven hours. The US National Institutes of Health suggest adults sleep seven to eight hours a night. So remember getting a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep every night, decreasing the amount of time spent with toxic and negative people and environments each day that cause negative stress, adding a little prayer/meditation/quiet time with no electronics daily, and/or adding a good yoga class to your routine 1-2 days per week for 30-90 min. will help combat this greatly.
As every person grows older the body changes how it gains and loses weight. Both men and women experience a declining metabolic rate on average of about 2% each year after the age of 30-32 , or in other words the number of calories the body needs to function normally for the average active adult, though extremely active and pro-athletes over age 30 have a slightly different scale for which their nutrition intake should be more regulated such as by a registered dietician, registered holistic nutritionist, or nationally licenced athletic trainer with current nutrition counseling accreditation for long term performance while optimizing organ health and longevity.
On top of the decline in metabolism with age, women have to deal with menopause. “If women gain weight after menopause, it’s more likely to be in their bellies,” says Michael Jensen, M.D., professor of medicine in the Mayo Clinic’s endocrinology division. In menopause, production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone slows down. Meanwhile, testosterone levels also start to drop, but at a slower rate. This shift in hormones causes women to hold on to weight in their bellies. The good news is you can fight this process. A daily run, kickboxing, or Spin class is great for your heart, but cardio workouts alone won’t do much for your waist. “You need to do a combination of weights and cardiovascular training,” says Sangeeta Kashyap, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. Strength training increases muscle mass, which sets your body up to burn more fat. “Muscle burns more calories than fat, and therefore you naturally burn more calories throughout the day by having more muscle,” says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. Patton recommends 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 125 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week.
Eating too many processed foods
“Refined grains like white bread, crackers and chips, as well as refined sugars in sweetened drinks and desserts increase inflammation in our bodies,” says Patton. “ Belly fat is associated with inflammation, so eating too many processed foods will hinder your ability to lose belly fat.” Natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may therefore actually prevent belly fat, Patton says. Organic green tea, and mangosteen fruit, and acai berries are also high in antioxidants and fiber.
The body doesn’t react to all fats in the same way. Research correlates high intake of saturated fat like the kind in animal meat and dairy products to increased visceral fat, says Patton. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats like the kind in olive oil and avocados as well as specific types of polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s, found in almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fatty fish like salmon have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, help promote optimal brain function and are good for the joints. If those good fats and good cholesterols are eaten in proper portions do your body good. Yet we aware that eating too much fat of any kind increases your overall daily calorie intake and could lead to weight gain anyway, so enjoy healthy fats in moderation only.
And if you feel like you’re already getting enough sleep and rest, here are some simple but effective dietary tips that you can include to further help you reduce cortisol levels in your body:
Unmotivated or Depressed
Reducing belly fat takes a combination approach of a healthy balanced diet that is high in fiber and low in starch carbohydrates and refined sugar, contains no artificial or man altered sweeteners, along with regular and consistent cardiovascular, motivational, resistance/weight training. If you are willing to do the work and get professionally sound guidance and training, you can move past genetics and lose it. If you have any form of body dismorphic disorder you must be monitored by a physician and Special Populations accredited trainer during this process.
A New Zealand paper did research that showed recently that metabolic syndrome was linked to a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia later in life. Now depression has been added to the list of ailments linked to excessive belly fat, and losing weight through dieting doesn't seem to reverse the problem.
"Weight gain is the major contributor to metabolic syndrome and depression, but we also observed that in many people who are obese, losing weight is not enough to reduce the symptoms of depression," said An Pan, a nutritionist at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study, which appears in a recent issue of Diabetes Care. "In fact, losing weight by dieting may actually increase stress and depressive symptoms," Pan says. A better approach, he says, would involve more exercise, which helps the body burn some of the deep fat packed around abdominal organs - the cause of the large belly often carried by people with metabolic syndrome. Those wanting to lose weight are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and participate in physical activity. Pan also recommends psychiatric counselling for people who are depressed. The paper found evidence of a vicious cycle - metabolic syndrome contributes to depression, and depression contributes to metabolic syndrome, apparently by causing people to overeat. Pan and the other authors of the paper suggest several possible mechanisms for this two-way interaction. For example, depression affects the metabolism in ways that could increase blood pressure, reduce the body's ability to absorb glucose and promote the accumulation of belly fat. Also depressed people are more likely to lack the motivation to get exercise.On top of that, some antidepressant medications promote weight gain.
In the other direction, metabolic syndrome promotes inflammation, which has been linked to depression, and makes the body less sensitive to leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite after eating.Low levels of leptin, as well as leptin insensitivity, have been shown to produce depressive symptoms. Also, damage to blood vessels in the brain caused by high blood pressure and other consequences of metabolic syndrome may produce symptoms of depression, and are believed to promote dementia, as other studies have found. Another study, just published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, reports that pioglitazone, a drug that helps prevent diabetes by enhancing the body's sensitivity to insulin, also appears to boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in people with major depression. The drug helped even when taken by depressed people who didn't have the metabolic problems that signal the approach of diabetes. The authors believe that pioglitazone (sold as Actos) counteracts depression by helping the body use glucose more efficiently, just as exercise does.
Apparently the accumulation of belly fat, which may be a consequence of too much sugar in the blood or toxic artificial sweeteners being stored in those fat cells, also contributes to elevated blood sugar and several other problems, including depression. "I think the major message of our paper is that depression, cardiovascular disease, stroke and other problems begin early even in people who do not have diabetes," says Pan.
"So prevention should begin early for people with metabolic syndrome. We should pay attention to their mental health, and for people with mental health problems we should monitor their blood glucose, blood lipids and blood pressure to control their risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke."
Workouts may need a change or adjustment
To get rid of stubborn belly fat, you have to ramp up your workouts in a safe but vigorous way. In a study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, people who completed a high-intensity workout regimen lost more belly fat than those who followed a low-intensity plan. In fact, the low-intensity exercises experienced no significant changes at all. “You need to exercise at full intensity, working very vigorously, because the end goal is to burn more calories and high intensity exercise does just that,” says Tanya Zentner, a British Columbia based registered personal trainer. High intensity workouts mean you’re going all out for as long as you can. If this sounds intimidating, think of it this way: you’ll burn more calories in less time. If you have Joint problems, had a joint replacement surgery over 6 months in the past and had proper physio therapy and active recovery training, or respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD, you can still do these kinds of high intensity workouts if they are modified, adjusted, or spaced out in a safe way and monitored by a nationally registered or certified trainer with special populations training with collaboration with your family physician or surgeon.
Performing countless crunches and not getting anymore results? Switch it up! When you’re down to your final inches of belly fat, the basic crunch won’t be the exercise that finally reveals your six-pack. Spot reduction is a myth. Doing functional exercises that use the all the muscles in your core — abdominals, back, pelvic area, oblique muscles — as well as other body parts that use more muscles at once utilize a higher rate of calorie burn while you are doing them. Planks are a good functional exercise because they activate not just your core muscles but also your shoulder, arm, leg, and butt muscles to build lean muscle, burn calories, and still be more gentle on the joints because it is an isometric exercise and does not require moving of the joints during the exercise of resistance against gravity.
If all your life you tend to pack the pounds around your middle rather than your hips and thighs and many people in your family have the same predisposition, then you’re likely apple shaped. This genetic predisposition means ridding yourself of belly fat will be harder, Dr. Kashyap says, but not impossible.
If your testosterone levels are high — something that can occur with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — you might have difficulty losing weight. “If you’re an apple shape and overweight, it’s a good idea to see your doctor,” Dr. Kashyap says, since there may also be a chance that you could be pre-diabetic or diabetic.
Zen Yahweh Fitness® will help you achieve your goals with accredited training and positive encouragement to help you stay focused as you continue to commit to your goals of an active life style, with balanced nutrition. Zen Yahweh Fitness will tailor an exercise program for your specific needs and encourage regular attendance to workouts, because consistency of regular training and alternating workout variants, accompanied by portion control and a balanced diet are key to your success!