The Secret Behind the Excess Belly Fat in Women

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on April 1, 2019
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Belly fat can do a lot of harm to one’s body image, especially when it comes to women, but most importantly, it can do a lot of harm to one’s health condition. There are a lot of reasons as to why there is so much belly fat being stored, but what is most intriguing are the reasons why the female body seems to store so much more belly fat compared to the male’s body. In the following article, we plan on answering questions regarding the different types of fat in the human body, the sole definition of belly fat, and the various causes of the increased storage of belly fat.

But that is not all. For all of our worried readers around the world, we offer some great, basic steps on how to lose that annoying belly fat just in time for the summer so that you can enjoy and be proud of your beach body. We will also explain why women have more excess belly fat as compared to men, and most importantly, how to lose it?

How is belly fat defined?

Belly fat also referred to with the term of visceral fat, is considered to be the most dangerous form of fat of them all. Basically, there are three different types of fat in the human body – triglycerides, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat.

While triglycerides are making 95% of the fat in the body and are the type of fat that circulates through the bloodstream, subcutaneous fat is layering up between the skin and the abdominal wall. The visceral or belly fat is the type of fat that is located deep within the belly, which makes it dangerous as it is (1).

If you are wondering how you can make the difference between the visceral and the subcutaneous type of fat, this is how – Go ahead and pinch the skin around your belly. What you are pinching right now, that is the subcutaneous fat, which is laying on the top of the abdominal muscles. The visceral fat though, cannot be pinched or seen because it is laying below the abdominal muscles, as it surrounds all of the abdominal organs.

The body uses visceral fat as a constant energy source. Both the visceral and the subcutaneous fats are metabolically active as they constantly produce hormones and chemicals which have a certain impact on each and every body organ. When the body weight is at an optimum, healthy level, these hormones and chemicals have a positive influence on our body as they influence the insulin production and regulation, the feeling of hunger, and they even help the body to burn the stored fats faster.

However, when we are talking about overweight or obese individuals, these chemicals and hormones produced by the stored visceral fat can cause harmful effects to develop (2). High levels of visceral fats actually increase the risk of numerous health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular disease (3), heart attack and stroke, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure (4) among many others.

How do you know you have excess belly fat?

So how is one supposed to know if they have excess visceral fat in their body? One of the simplest ways to measure your excess belly fat is by using a simple tape measure. Stand tall, and get rid of any clothes from your upper body. Pull the tape measure around your waist, above your hip bones. Relax and measure your waist. It has been suggested that anything above 35 inches is an indication of unhealthy levels of visceral fat or belly fat for women.

The different causes behind excess belly fat in women

There is a variety of causes that stand behind the presence of excess, visceral fat in the female body. For starters, the biggest reason of them all is the excess calorie intake. Women who are not physically active but intake more calories throughout the day than they actually burn with daily physical activity are at risk of developing high levels of belly fat.

Another great cause is food choice. A lot of people tend to believe those sayings that as long as you exercise regularly, it does not matter what you are eating. Well, that is a big no-no. Even if you are physically active on a daily level, things like fast food, soft drinks, processed foods, and artificial sugars will increase your belly fat levels. Other causes include lack of sleep, the normal aging process, excessive alcohol intake, stress, etc (5).

Why is excess belly fat more common in women?

It is no secret nor a surprise that the levels of fat in the female body are much higher as compared with those in a male’s body. In fact, the weight of a normal female body consists of 18-20% of fat, whereas the normal male body’s weight consists of 10-20% of fat (6).

There are different theories on why the female body stores more fat as compared to the male body. For starters, it has been suggested that this happens as a protective mechanism to prepare and protect the childbearing body of the woman.

The body stores extra fat so that it will always have a valid energy source as it prepares to bear a child, or during the period of pregnancy itself (7). But it seems that it is postmenopausal women who are storing more visceral fat as compared with premenopausal women and men (8). It seems that the hormonal changes that happen during the period of menopause, plus the excessive calorie intake and low levels of physical activity are doing their job and causing the body to store more fat than it can actually burn in these new, changed conditions.

How to efficiently get rid of excess belly fat?

However, not all hope is lost. With a few lifestyle changes, there is nothing that one cannot influence upon. The thing to remember is that your body image and self-esteem are not the only things that are in danger by the excess belly fat – it is your general health as well. Nobody should live with an increased risk and fear of health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and heart attack, stroke, etc.

The following tips will guide you to lose that excess belly fat in a way that it will prevent it from coming back again. Let’s see what we have prepared for you.

  • Stay physically active at all times – Any type of physical activity that gets you to break a sweat and gets your heart rhythm to rise is acceptable. This includes walking, jogging, cycling, running, hiking, or taking part in a fitness group, weight lifting, etc. We recommend introducing physical activity 5 times a week, for at least around half an hour, while the choice of activity is up to you. Perhaps you can get a friend to join in a spin or Zumba class with you, or perhaps you will decide on a relaxing yoga class in combination with running outside. Regular physical activity will eliminate those extra body pounds and belly fat than anything like it. Plus, you will use the other beneficial effects of regular physical activity for your body and mind, not just weight loss (9).
  • Choose five smaller meals, rather than three big ones – Make sure that you plan your meals so that you have time for two snacks in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. Also, make sure that all of your meals on a daily level are normal sized and not too big. The snacks will help you to avoid the feeling of hunger in between the main meals. Choose a healthy snack alternative such as nuts, fruits, shakes, or smoothies instead of your usual chips, candy, and other unhealthy snacks.
  • Intake enough clean protein – It has been scientifically proven that people who are ingesting more protein on a daily level have less belly fat as compared with those who fail to satisfy their daily protein requirements (10).
    In addition, a low-carb diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates and replaces them with clean protein and healthy fats is considered to be highly beneficial for the weight loss process (11). We recommend introducing more high protein foods such as chicken, fish, beef, cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and eggs to your diet. And if you are unsure whether or not you intake enough protein, you can lean on the popular protein shakes for help.
  • Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables – Use the fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables to prepare delicious meals that will be low in calories, carbs, and high in vitamins and minerals, which is exactly what your body needs when it is trying to get rid of the excess belly fat and body pounds. Stay away from any processed fruits and vegetables, or the frozen options. At all times, there is a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables that should not miss out on.
  • Replace your usual beverages – Are you a fan of the popular soft, sugary drinks? Do you have the habit to drink a lot of energy drinks or caffeinated drinks with lots of sugar added to them? And how about alcohol, especially beer? All of these are unhealthy choices for beverages that you should avoid, not only for the purposes of losing weight but for the purposes of preserving your health in good condition, that is. That is why you should rethink your usual drink choice and perhaps start drinking at least eight glasses of water each day. As for alcohol, we would recommend the occasional glass of wine, white or red, as it contains the least calories of all alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not forget to relax – Perhaps stress is what makes you gain weight over and over again, despite the fact that you are watching over your calorie intake like a hawk. To eliminate stress from your life, we would recommend some effective relaxation techniques which have been proven effective in the weight loss process as well. These include regular 7-8 hours of sleep, yoga, mindful breathing, massages, acupuncture, and meditation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have learned about the three different types of fat in the body, and what makes the belly fat, or visceral fat, as dangerous as it is. As you can see for yourself, the danger of low self-esteem is not the only thing that comes with the increased levels of belly fat. There are many other health risks that can even put your life in danger if you do not act in time to eliminate that excess belly fat.

So act smart and use the tips that we had to offer you to start your journey to lose that extra belly fat, boost your health, and improve your self-confidence. You will never look back!

References

(1) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8581775
(2) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8581775
(3) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5619737/
(4) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5106067/
(5) //www.healthymummy.com/different-causes-excess-belly-fat-women/
(6) //uk.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpts/learn-why-women-carry-more-fat-than-men
(7) //www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115755.htm
(8) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27487528
(9) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925973/
(10) //nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-9-5
(11) //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530364/


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