Are you struggling to loose weight from your stomach? Leading nutritionists and fitness specialists outline 10 common reasons why women cannot shift their spare tyre.
As perhaps expected, excess abdominal fat may be the result of overindulging in sugar and simple white carbohydrates, such as pasta.
Yet, many women may unwittingly clinging on to extra pounds around their midriff if they are sleep deprived, stressed or simply doing sit-ups incorrectly.
Even seemingly sensible weight-loss approaches, such as intensively exercising and dodging dietary fat, can actually cause people to pile on the pounds.
In a piece for Get The Gloss, weight-loss experts discuss why some women cannot loose their midriff bulge and what can be done about it.
Leading nutritionist outlines 10 common reasons why some women can’t shift their spare tyre
Never mind ‘does my bum look big in this?’, stubborn fat around the tummy is probably the most common bodily bugbear, for both men and women.
Shifting it becomes even more of a priority when you consider that, according to NHS Choices, fat collecting around your middle poses more health risks than fat that sits elsewhere.
Having a large amount of tummy fat (when compared to having fat around the bottom or thighs) makes people more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart problems.
Hardly joyful news if you have a few pounds to lose, but don’t panic if you’re developing a paunch – the following could explain why you’re accumulating belly fat, and tips from nutritionist and yoga teacher Libby Limon and fitness specialist Lucy Miller could help you whittle down your waist once and for all.
Number one rule for conquering abdominal fat? Do not stress (in fact, make that a rule for life).
Libby said: ‘Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays a part in laying down central adipose tissue (belly fat), so if you are in a stressed state then it will be very hard to shift.
‘Stress can come from many sources – emotional strain, conflict at work or relationship trouble. De-stress by building in yoga practice and mindfulness to your daily routine.’
If you suspect that stress is sabotaging your slimming goals, learn how to master meditation, swot up on calming yoga poses and halt negative thought patterns in their tracks.
It is public enemy number one, and the link between muffin tops and actual muffins is, unfortunately, stronger than ever.
Libby said: ‘Cortisol is also implemented, alongside insulin, in blood sugar control, so a high-sugar diet can cause belly fat to stick fast even if you’re restricting calories and trying to lose weight (excessive calorie restriction isn’t something I would recommend anyway).’
Personal trainer and obesity campaigner Lucy added: ‘Try to cut down on sugar, saturated fats and white refined foods such as white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, as they metabolise quickly, resulting in soaring blood sugar levels, which promotes fat storage.
‘Base your diet around lean meats, vegetables and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts and avocados.’
It’s the c-word again – Libby claims that ‘a lack of sleep can have a negative effect on cortisol balance’.
If you are struggling to get some shut eye, try and get to the root of what is causing your insomnia and learn how to help yourself nod off using expert wellbeing techniques.
Stress causes the deposition of abdominal fat, which will be hard to shift (stock image)
Being a new mother
First things first, never put pressure on yourself to spring back into shape and definitely don’t rush things (that goes for weight loss full stop).
Your belly has just housed new life and brought a wonder into the world; cut it, and more importantly, yourself, some slack.
Lucy said: ‘If you’re a new mum then losing weight from around the tummy can be very hard – hormones take time to settle down and stretched muscles won’t knit back together instantly after pregnancy. It will take time, so give yourself as long as it takes.’
Consult a post-natal fitness specialist, join a community of other new mothers for support and a good belly laugh, and try to focus on what your body has achieved over what it might look like right now.
There is no doubt that slobbing out will not do anything to diminish belly fat, but going overboard isn’t the answer either.
Libby said: ‘Physical stresses such as overexercising and endurance exercise can upset cortisol balance. Switch gruelling cardio workouts for 20 to 30 minute HIIT sessions instead.’
If a protruding tum comes with cramps, wind and bowel trouble, an unhappy digestive system is likely to blame and could be making a less than trim-tum situation look and feel a lot worse than it is.
Your first step is to beating bloat is to identify the cause of your tummy trouble.
Lucy said: ‘Avoid eating fruit after a meal, as fruit can cause food to ferment in your stomach, leading to bloating and lots of gas.’
Overexercising upsets the balance of the ‘stress’ hormone cortisol, leading to weight gain
The classic sit-up has been sold to us as the best ab honer, but incorrect alignment can make them less effective, not to mention damage your back.
A sit-up alone also will not burn fat that sits on the stomach.
Lucy said: ‘Do minute-long planks, three sets of 20 bicycle crunch exercises, two sets of 30 heel digs, three sets of 20 bird dogs and the mighty Turkish get up.
‘These are all great exercises for working your deep core muscles, ab muscles and postural muscles, which will instantly make you look taller and slimmer.’
Traditionally many women skirt round the weightlifting section in the gym and while body weight resistance training is highly effective, pumping a little iron pays dividends.
The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn, even when resting, which is good news for torching tummy fat.
It seems logical to assume that fat contributes to fat, but nutritionists are keen to point out that since the ‘low fat’ revolution of the 70s, our waistlines have widened dramatically.
As personal trainer and nutritionist Keris Marden, and fitness expert and health coach Matt Whitmore point out in The Paleo Primer: A Jump-Start Guide to Losing Body Fat and Living Primally:
‘Have you ever wondered what takes the place of the removed fat? Answer: heaps of synthetic, non-food chemicals that wreak havoc on our metabolism and digestion.
‘What’s more, most low-fat and fat-free products contain loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make up for the lack of taste.’
For a flatter tummy and lower body weight in general, healthy fats such as coconut oil and avocados could well be your weight-loss weapon, as Keris and Matt highlight:
‘Fat can play a vital role in weight loss…the single most important aim of your nutrition should be to balance your blood sugar levels. Dietary fat helps you accomplish that by slowing down the release of nutrients into the bloodstream, so by all means, add a little olive oil or butter to your meals.
‘This will help regulate your appetite and keep your energy levels consistent.’
Fewer sugar spikes, reduced cake cravings and a drip feed of health-giving nutrients into the body will seriously reduce the incidence of belly swelling binges.
Something more serious
If your diet and fitness regimes are shipshape, but you are still not losing any weight, it may be a good idea to seek medical advice.
Hormonal disruption can affect fat distribution, so consulting a hormone expert could help, but book an appointment with your GP first for a general health check.
This article was originally published by Get The Gloss and reproduced with their permission.