Common Causes of Belly Fat
Wondering why you are consistently gaining weight on your belly? The causes of belly fat weight gain are often variable, but one must account for all risk factors, and be open to making changes where needed.
What fat on the belly is the harmful fat?
Location: Directly under skin
The visible, pinchable, fat located just under the skin is called subcutaneous fat. When you poke at it, this fat feels soft.
Visceral Fat (The Harmful Belly Fat)
Location: Surrounds and blankets vital organs in the abdominal cavity
This fat blankets vital organs in the abdominal cavity covering and surrounding the liver, pancreas, kidney and intestines. Visceral belly fat is a significant health concern for it has been shown to disrupt the functioning of vital organs. It also negatively influences the endocrine system and its regular hormonal signalling. Visceral fat is of a gel-like consistency. It makes an individual’s belly feel firm, unlike subcutaneous fat, which is soft to the touch.
Causes of Belly Fat
Age, Gender and Hormonal Status
You may be more susceptible to gaining weight in your midsection due to genetics, your gender or age. At certain times in one’s life, particularly at midlife, hormonal deficiencies create issues for people. It is important to be aware of these times. In middle aged women, menopause is a timeframe where metabolic processes slow down significantly. In men too, their experience of menopause is similar, though not entirely the same. At the age of 30, one should be taking an active interest in balancing one’s hormone levels. Be sure to have them tested on a regular basis. The influence of the endocrine system on our propensity to store fat is so high that in most cases, weight loss peptides will be able to rectify these fat storage issues. Be sure to consider lifestyle habits that may be contributing to the disruption of the endocrine system and desensitising of hormonal receptors.
Eating habits should be reviewed, alongside whether food choices are balanced and offer nutritional sustenance. One must investigate whether there is too much consumption of empty calories, foods cooked in unhealthy trans fats or processed foods with hidden sugar content, preservatives and additives. If you are seeking more information regarding Diet and Nutrition, check out our articles for insight.
Additionally, you should look at your current sleep hygiene. This includes making an analysis on just how much rest you are getting. Keep a notepad next to your bed or download an app that can keep track of the duration and quality of sleep you are having each night. It may come to surprise you that with each week in passing, where sleep is disrupted or of bad quality, your waistline increases in girth.
There is sufficient evidence to conclude that hormonal deficiencies are at work, whereby sleep loss plays a role in belly fat weight gain.
Physical Activity and Exercise
Are you getting adequate exercise? As we get older, it is really important to remember that the body will require continued physical activity. Muscle mass is lost quite rapidly, due to hormonal decline, and we need our muscle mass maintained for fat burning and to support the skeletal bones. Without muscle mass, we become fragile, and more likely to experience an injury or fall, which can result in bone fractures and lengthly recovery times. This in turn promotes further muscle loss, (sarcopenia) which like a vicious cycle repeats the incidence of injury, further down time and a higher risk of the cycle repeating over and over.
How are you coping with stress? Chronic stress and rising cortisol levels play a role in the development of belly fat.
Why is belly fat so harmful as opposed to subcutaneous fat?
Belly fat, once it has consumed the abdominal cavity, becomes a danger to an otherwise healthy individual. It has been shown to provoke an inflammatory response, which is the first sign of impending disease.
The reason that these fat cells are so toxic to us is that they no longer allow the endocrine system to do its job of regulating hormonal signalling. Instead, they act independently, pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances called cytokines, which interfere with the regular communication between cells and organs. Additionally, cytokines interfere with hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage, as well as mood and cognition, to name a few. Cytokines can act on the very cells from which they are secreted (autocrine action) and may also act on cells that are adjacent, this is a paracrine action. An endocrine action is where cytokines act on distant cells.
The fat stored in your abdominal region (visceral fat) is linked to inflammation, and may potentially increase the risk of developing certain diseases, including:
- Heart attacks and cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexual dysfunction
- Premature death
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