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What Women Need To Know About Belly Fat

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Every woman’s body shape is a result of a combination of genetics, lifestyle, exercise, diet, and natural aging process. Women who did not have significant belly fat previously and suddenly find themselves with an apple shape can find this development frustrating and be unsure of how to address it. When people carry more body fat in their bellies, this means they need to respond to both subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat beneath our skin, and visceral fat is the deeper fat that surrounds our internal organs. When we have visceral fat in our abdomen, this leads to higher LDL cholesterol, lower HDL cholesterol, and higher blood glucose levels. The health risks of this body type include Type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease.

3 Big Factors for Women with Belly Weight

1. Menopause. One of the major factors that are specific to women’s change in body composition, fat storage and hormone changes is obviously menopause. Women going through menopause can find it frustrating that their belly fat my increase and is harder to get rid of. Even though your diet may be the same, belly fat can become more stubborn and apparent in aging women. Just as aging men stop storing fat in their arms and legs and more in their stomachs, menopausal women’s fat distribution also moves to the stomach. As muscle mass diminishes and fat storage increases, your body can begin to burn calories slower. Menopause comes into play because when the female body produces less estrogen, this can lead to weight staying in the abdominal area. Women have to take into consideration that hormones don’t work independently. They affect other hormones and are affected by other hormones.

2. The hormones that are at play make a big difference, and awareness can help you respond effectively instead of simply exercising more or trying to adjust your diet (though these areas can help too, if done properly). Here’s what you need to know:
– Estrogen and progesterone help fight cortisol’s effect of holding fat in the stomach. Both of these hormones decrease due to menopause.
– Women with more testosterone in their system are prone to thicker waists.
– Stress produces more cortisol and testosterone, both of which encourage belly weight.
– As women get older, bodies also produce less of a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA. Having a lower amount of DHEA have been in found in some cases to increase belly fat.
– High intensity workouts release adrenaline and noradrenaline, which help burn visceral fat.

3. Stress. Yes, some stress can be healthy and it is a normal part of our experience. However, when stress is experienced negatively without having an effective outlet or coping method, it can show up very noticeably in the body. Chronic stress affects your sleep, which also leads to hormone imbalance and stomach weight. Stress increases your testosterone levels and lowers your estrogen (if you are in or post-menopause, your body is already adjusting to lowered estrogen levels. Women who are more stressed will produce higher amounts of cortisol, which is a hormone that causes visceral fat. You will also feel more tempted to eat comfort foods full of sugar, carbs or starch – all ingredients which add to your belly weight.

How to Turn it Around

• What kind of foods and drinks do you consume? Ditch soda, alcohol and any other drinks with high sugar and calories. Switch to infused water with lemon or cucumber instead. Replace processed food, saturated and trans fats, and salty and high carb/starch foods with soluble fiber such as vegetables and fruit. An easy rule of thumb is to make sure at least half of your plate is bright vibrant colors from carrots, peppers and leafy greens.

• Ask your doctor to check for a magnesium deficiency. Women over 30 years old should be consuming 320mg of magnesium to ensure healthy body processes and chemical reactions. Magnesium helps lower insulin and glucose, two common culprits of weight gain. Make sure you are getting magnesium either from beans, nuts or supplements. If you are going through menopause, go for regular checkups and make sure the supplements you are taking are helping regulate your hormones.

Sleep well to age well• How much sleep are you getting? If you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to snack more, eat larger portions and consume more calories for energy. It isn’t just about fatigue and poor eating habits either; inadequate sleep leads to a higher production of ghrelin, a hormone which increases appetite. To move towards getting a minimum 7 hours of good quality sleep, keep your minimal caffeine consumption to the morning. Having a cooler bedroom and going to bed at the same time every night will also help.

We hope that this article has helped give you some helpful questions to ask yourself: what area is causing your belly fat? Knowing whether it is stress or poor diet that is the main culprit will help you respond accurately and effectively.

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