Youre Eating Clean But Your Tummys Still Expanding
More often than not, belly fat can be traced to your diet. But if your tummys popping despite a steady diet and lifestyle, your weight gain could be hormonal.
Hormone levels can change for a variety of reasons outside your control, including:
- some cancer treatments
- underlying medical probs
Belly weight gain could just mean that your estrogen or testosterone levels are fluctuating because youre getting older. But if you havent changed your lifestyle and you arent approaching middle age, chat with your doctor about checking for underlying health conditions.
Changes In Bathroom Habits
Your hormones are vital in regulating different body functions, especially during pregnancy. As your hormone levels increase, youll most likely experience constipation. Youll also feel the need to urinate frequently.
These changes usually occur during the second trimester. Aside from the hormone progesterone, your lifestyle, including your diet, fluid intake, and exercise, also affects your bathroom habits. Lastly, as the fetus grows, your uterus will feel heavier, putting pressure on your bowel.
Hormone Changes Can Cause Belly Fat But 2 Experts Say It Could Be More Serious Than That
Before we dive right in, let’s discuss a few things you need to know about fat first. It can accumulate as your metabolism slows down with age. It can also result from a poor diet and lack of exercise. But hormone changes in the body can actually lead to belly fat specifically, and we spoke to two endocrinologists about why that is and what might be the cause.
Rocio Salas-Whalen, MD, board-certified endocrinologist at New York Endocrinology, said that belly fat is commonly associated with visceral fat, meaning fat that attaches to the liver, pancreas, and other internal organs. It’s not just what you can pinch with your fingers that causes worry, she explained, it’s what can accumulate underneath. And your family history may predispose you to belly fat as well as metabolic problems we’ll discuss later.
Jaime Knopman, MD, board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM Fertility, explained that women can be very sensitive to fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones, which will change the way their bodies burn and store fat. And, she said, women tend to store fat in their lower abdomen. In addition, when the stress hormone cortisol is elevated chronically, it can lead to “abdominal or visceral fat,” Dr. Salas-Whalen explained, though she noted this goes for overall weight gain, not just belly fat.
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Shift Your Shape With More Movement
It is important to remember to take a reality check. You didnt get the excess weight overnight and youre not going to lose it all in a minute, advises Carol. She suggests if youre trying to lose belly fat, the best thing to do is start with cardiovascular exercises and activities that you love. If running on a treadmill is not your thing, then find a movement that brings you joy youll be more inclined to do it. Now, take your strength to the next level.
Focus On Lean Muscle Mass
As we age, many of us focus on cardiovascular physical activity, such as walking or running. However, its critically important we retain our lean muscle mass, as the more muscle mass we have, the more effective we are at burning calories, as well as burning fat, Carol explains. The most effective and lasting results for improved body composition come from regular strength training and a cardio strategy that includes both steady state-exercise and high-intensity interval training . Put all of this together on a regular basis, and youll set yourself up for long term success and sustained longevity.
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Engage In Regular Exercise
Creating an exercise routine and sticking with it can be a significant lifestyle change for some and can take some getting used to. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , you should aim for 150 minutes of weekly, moderate-intensity activity for optimal body function. Exercise is excellent for keeping your hormones in check. If youre searching for tips on how to lose hormonal fat, exercise is the perfect opportunity to burn belly fat and calories.
Crash Diets Don’t Work
You’ve probably noticed that crash diets don’t work the weight just comes right back again. The reason for this when youre in perimenopause is that weight loss is more complex than “calories in/calories out. To be successful a meno belly diet requires the added step of focusing meals and snacks around foods that help restore and maintain hormonal balance.
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When Should I See An Endocrinologist For Weight Gain
There are a wide range of hormonal issues that may cause sudden, unexplained weight gain. These include thyroid deficiency, declining estrogen , and polycystic ovary syndrome . Weight gain may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as headaches, insomnia, mood swings, and heavy or painful periods. If you find yourself gaining weight with no apparent explanation or changes in diet or exercise, you should discuss this with your doctor. An endocrinologist can help identify hormonal imbalances by reviewing your symptoms and performing laboratory tests when necessary.
Obesity And Sex Hormones
Body fat distribution plays an important role in the development of obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke and some forms of arthritis. Fat around our abdomen is a higher risk factor for disease than fat stored on our bottom, hips and thighs. It seems that oestrogens and androgens help to decide body fat distribution. Oestrogens are sex hormones made by the ovaries in pre-menopausal women. They are responsible for prompting ovulation every menstrual cycle. Men and postmenopausal women do not produce much oestrogen in their testes or ovaries. Instead, most of their oestrogen is produced in their body fat, although at much lower amounts than what is produced in pre-menopausal ovaries. In younger men, androgens are produced at high levels in the testes. As a man gets older, these levels gradually decrease.The changes with age in the sex hormone levels of both men and women are associated with changes in body fat distribution. While women of childbearing age tend to store fat in their lower body , older men and postmenopausal women tend to increase storage of fat around their abdomen . Postmenopausal women who are taking oestrogen supplements donât accumulate fat around their abdomen. Animal studies have also shown that a lack of oestrogen leads to excessive weight gain.
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What Is Hormonal Weight Gain
Weight gain associated with underlying hormonal imbalances. For men, hormonal weight gain can be caused by high stress or cortisol levels in the body. The heightened levels of cortisol may make the body go into survival mode and induce the production of fat cells which will cause a declining metabolism to store food for later use. For women, a specific estrogen hormone called estradiol decreases at menopause helps regulate metabolism and body weight. The lower the levels of estradiol may cause weight gain. Throughout a womans life, they may notice weight gain around their hips and thighs.
Signs Hormones May Be Giving You Belly Fat
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How Can Hormonal Imbalance Lead To Obesity
There are two primary hormones that regulate how much fat is stored on your body, with different roles. One hormone, leptin, has a role in energy balance and appetite control. Another hormone, insulin, affects blood sugar levels and has an impact on fat storage. Signs of poor hormonal health can lead to obesity in many ways:
1) When the amount of leptin in your body is low, you wont feel full after eating and wont burn any fat at all
2) When insulin levels are high, it causes the body to store more fat even after people have eaten a meal
3) When ghrelin levels are high , it will cause you to overeat and not be able to burn as much calories as you need
Exercise And Dieting Helps You Lose Belly Fat
So what can we do about tubby tummies? A lot, it turns out. The starting point for bringing weight under control, in general, and combating abdominal fat, in particular, is regular moderate-intensity physical activity at least 30 minutes per day to control weight and lose belly fat. Strength training may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.
Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help.
Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat.
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If You Have A Bloated Belly
1. Identify the Cause
There are other causes of bloating belly aside from gas, such as food intolerance, ingesting excess air, constipation, or imbalances in the bacteria in your gut. According to research, stress, anxiety, changes in your menstrual cycle, a high-fat diet, and weight gain contribute to bloating.
2. Avoid Food that Triggers Bloating
Certain foods contain compounds that are hard to digest , and eating them typically lead to bloating. The undigested compounds gather in the large intestine. Once the bacteria ferment them, gas in the body will increase.
3. Limit Eating Dairy Products
If youre lactose intolerant, the standard advice is to avoid consuming dairy products. However, its worth noting that dairy products contain primary sources of essential nutrients, such as calcium, zinc, and protein. Therefore, its best to consult your doctor before changing your diet.
4. Consume Probiotic Supplements
Not all bacteria are harmful to your health. Probiotics, for instance, are live microorganisms that aid your body digest food and ease digestive issues like bloating. You can try probiotic supplements or eat food rich in them like yogurt, kimchi, miso, and kombucha.
5. Avoid Eating Large Meals and Fatty Foods
6. Take Peppermint Supplements
7. Try Not to Swallow Too Much Air
8. Make Exercising a Habit
Hormonal Belly Pooch And Bloat In Women
Weight gain for many women is common with perimenopause and menopause. Women begin to make less progesterone and estrogen around their mid-30s and much more so in menopause.
Women in perimenopause will start to notice theyre gaining weight around their midsection much easier than before . Hormonal fluctuations of estrogen lead to these increases in this unexplained weight gain. Sleep deprivation, loss of muscle mass, and worsening insulin sensitivity also lead to weight gain in the abdominal during this time.
Women in menopause also have a worsening fat-burning metabolism so they wont be burning off as much as fat they used to . This is why lowering your calories too much can be worse for the belly. Itll cause women to lose more muscle plus lower fat-burning metabolism at the same time.
But this doesnt mean all hope is lost if youre suffering from menopausal belly fat. Studies have found postmenopausal women on hormonal replacement therapy ended up having a decrease in belly fat .
Eating a high protein diet, cutting sugars and carbs, lots of fiber, getting plenty of sleep, lowering stress levels, and working out with resistance training are proven ways to decrease the menopausal belly bulge.
From Birth Control
Most women do not experience increases in abdominal fat from taking birth control. Sudden weight gain due to fluid retention is a lot more common after taking birth control.
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What Causes Hormonal Belly Fat
Your body attempts to maintain a very delicate hormonal balance to make sure everything is running optimally. But for one reason or another, your hormones can get out of sync due to your diet, lack of activity, or lifestyle factors. Plus as you age your belly fat-burning hormones will also gradually go downhill.
Middle age women notoriously suffer from hormonal belly fat. Perimenopause, menopause, birth control and PCOS can all go off hormone levels leading to excess weight gain in the stomach.
Having stomach fat might not only be physically unsightly but it could very well lead to serious health problems like heart disease, fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome . High blood pressure and diabetes are also linked to the hormone cortisol .
Abdominal visceral fat is the worse as it surrounds and places pressure on your organs. Subcutaneous belly fat isnt that bad for your health as it lies right underneath your skin. But its safe to say that losing belly fat will improve your appearance and your health.
What does hormonal belly fat look like?
There are a few common characteristics that indicate you might be dealing with hormonal belly fat. If you have any of the following, then its time to take a closer look at your hormone levels.
Some hormonal belly symptoms include:
- still feeling hungry after eating
- majority of hormonal weight gain is in the belly
- cravings for sugar, starches, and high glycemic carbohydrates
- high hunger levels throughout the day
Switching From Junk Food To Whole Foods
One of the first steps you should take towards balancing out your hormones is switching from junk food to whole foods. This is because highly processed foods can cause more dramatic swings in blood sugar and insulin. Limiting refined sugars and artificial sweeteners may be especially helpful in preventing hormonal imbalance.
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How To Start A Healthy Lifestyle
Oh, boy! Adopting a healthy lifestyle sure seems like an overwhelming project. Yet, it doesnt have to be. Your future can be a success story with helpful advice from Registered Dieticians who understand better than anyone how to successfully lose belly fat, and keep it off. Pritikin is geared to helping people change their lifestyle: nutrition, medical, physical, and psychological. Its a multi-faceted program that focuses on modifying peoples healthy habits and helping them move forward, explains Lon. No matter what age cohort youre in, Pritikin has the ability to significantly improve your blood sugar, control blood pressure and improve your weight.
Making changes to your lifestyle may sound hard, but it doesnt have to be. In a highly interactive, supportive educational experience with experts, such as Lon and Carol, that includes hands-on activities, such as grocery shopping excursions, modifying your eating habits, and moving towards a healthier future , it is possible to succeed. A stay at Pritikin is a health education experience like no other leaving you feeling highly motivated and tremendously confident that you can lose belly fat and live a healthier lifestyle.
How To Get Target Fat On Your Body
For the most part, it isnt really possible to target areas of fat on your body.
The idea of going more crunches to burn belly fat is definitely not going to work.
Having said that, it may be possible to indirectly target these areas by focusing on your hormones.
Typically, when done correctly, balancing your hormones leads to fat loss in the entire body with a more targeted effect on certain areas depending on whatever hormone imbalance you are targeting.
Always remember that your hormones are incredibly powerful and they serve an important purpose in your body.
These hormones help to regulate your metabolism, your muscle mass, where your body stores fat, how your body processes sugar and nutrients, they send signals to your brain to automatically adjust caloric burn, and much more.
This all assumes that your hormones are working as intended!
When you put extra stress on your body, when you consume foods that are processed and heavily manipulated for flavor and calories, when you fail to do essential things such as ensure you are getting enough sleep, you will see a breakdown in how your hormones are intended to work.
When this happens, you will start to see extra weight gain in the areas that weve discussed here.
The best way to address these issues is with a knowledgeable doctor that can help guide you back to a balanced and normal state.
Using bio-identical hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormone can help.
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