The Reasons for Belly Fat
Men and Women
- When women go through perimenopause, and then enter into menopause, they may find that they have accumulated fat around their bellies. The Mayo Clinic explains that our metabolism slows down as we age, and our fat percentage increases, in both men and women, although menopausal women experience a larger increase in their body fat than do men. Whereas, prior to menopause a woman may have carried her weight well, after menopause the weight shifts and leaves the arms, hip and legs and settles into the belly. Men, too, have a real battle with belly fat. Look around at middle-aged and post-middle-aged men. They may be thin but have a fat belly.
- Hormonal changes affect the way your body stores fat and breaks it down, and this leads to the pounds being packed on in your belly. Some women find that they have become thicker in the waistline area but haven't gained weight. This is an indication that abdominal fat is increasing, even though it's not showing up on your scales, because you are losing fat elsewhere, such as in your arms and hips.
- The most dangerous part about belly fat is that which you can't see. This is visceral fat that is located deep inside the body and surrounds your abdominal organs. What you can see is the subcutaneous fat that is situated between the abdominal wall and the skin. It's not as detrimental to your health as visceral fat.
According to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., and a researcher at Penn State, visceral fat is more active metabolically and is actually easier to lose than subcutaneous fat.
- According to Dr. Michael Jensen of the Mayo Clinic, there is some truth to that expression "beer belly." Drinking too much alcohol can increase belly fat. However, wine may be the exception.
- Using a tape measure, put it around your midsection, right at your belly button, and measure your waist. Don't suck in your stomach. If you are not overweight but your waist measurement is 35 inches or more, this shows that you have a concentration of abdominal fat, and this isn't good for you. The Mayo Clinic notes that research has found that a waist measurement of more than 33 inches, regardless of your weight, increases health risks.
- Genetics can play a role in why some individuals have more belly fat than others. If you have an apple-shaped body, then your propensity is to store more fat in your belly, whereas a pear-shaped person stores the fat in the lower parts of her body.
- If you are stressed, you are producing cortisol, which is a hormone. Cortisol makes your liver produce excess sugar, which makes you feel hungry, and you eat. So, in essence, stress can make you fatter and your belly bigger. If you have digestive problems and are gassy, this will make your belly look and feel big. If you are a late-night eater, this increases your chances of putting on fat in your belly.