5 Reasons you’re not losing your belly
I get a lot of people telling me all the time that despite the workouts and diets, the belly is just not going down. It’s actually kinda depressing because I experienced that myself so I decided to research exactly why that is and there’s a number of reasons.
Now, the two most obvious reasons are that you’re not exercising (or doing the right type of exercise) and your diet is shot but those are not the 5 reasons I am going to talk about today because, let’s be honest, everyone knows that you need to pretty much move more and eat less but assuming, like many people, you’re working out and creating a calorie deficit, what could the reasons be that you’re still not seeing the belly go down?
I’ve picked 5 main reasons and outlined that below but the first thing you need to understand is how belly fat is comprised and so, for that reason, it’s number one on the list.
- Two types of fat – There are two types of fat. There’s subcutaneous fat, this is fat which is directly behind the skin and in front of the muscle fibres. It’s the fat you can pinch. The other type of fat that accumulates around the belly is visceral fat. This is the deep fat beneath the abdominal wall that create a cushion for your internal organs Too much visceral fat is actually bad for your health. Visceral fat releases a substance known as adipokines which raise bad cholesterol and create insulin sensitivity in your cells, both of which can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.Insulin resistance is when your body needs more and more insulin in order to remove sugar from the blood (the opposite is insulin sensitivity which means less insulin is required) The more insulin in your system, the more fat storage that happens and the less fat burn.Although there’s no real way of targeting visceral fat, it is slightly easier to burn and less stubborn than subcutaneous fat but because you’re attacking two sets of fat, the process appears to slow down.A few things to help you will include:-– Exercising with weights which have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and help burn fat by making you more metabolically active through an increase in lean muscle tissue and hormones like growth hormones.- Incorporating High intensity interval training such as sprinting. A combination of sprinting and weight training is seen as one of the best ways to improve body composition.- Diet – A good diet will help especially one that is completely devoid of processed foods and low in sugars in order to manage insulin resistance. Adding things like cinnamon, apple cider vinegar and Omega 3 fatty acids high in EPA and DHA (aka Fish OIls) are a great strategy to improve ones insulin sensitivity as is increasing protein content.In other words, to simplify things think of the Team Fighting Fit holy trinity of body composition – Sprints, weights and protein shakes!
- Poor Gut Health – Gut health is one of the things that has been over looked for decades in our quest to become lean with the major emphasis being placed on the calorie in vs calorie out equation but what if I told you that if your gut health was poor (and you’d be surprised as to how many people’s gut health isn’t optimum) that you could be impairing your fat loss efforts. Firstly, many hormones are created in the gut level or regulated by gut activity. One of the key fat burning hormones is T3 which is a thyroid hormone. The thyroid is known as the metabolic thermostat of the body. In other words, if your thyroid is not working at an optimum level, neither is your metabolism. Furthermore, T3 hormones have been shown to have fat burning properties but if your gut health is poor due to a poor diet of processed foods, junk carbs, chemicals, sugar and foods that you’re intolerant to, it can inhibit your thyroid from working at its best and thus, inhibit your ability to burn fat.You can increase your gut health simply by eating more unprocessed natural foods including a diet that has more nutritient dense foods such as greens, vegetables and grass fed meats as opposed to processed foods, sugars, bad fats and such.Fermented foods also can improve gut health so eating foods like Kimchi or drinking things like Kefir may certainly help too.
- Stubborn Fat – It’s important to understand that stubborn fat exists and unfortunately, resides in the lower belly, love handles and in women, their buttocks and thigh areas. Stubborn fat is, as the name suggests, usually the last thing to go but why is that? The answer has to do with something known as receptors. Now, without getting into too much detail about receptors, I will quickly present an over view for you.Firstly, it’s important to understand that there are two receptors that are important when it comes to stubborn fat. Alpha receptors and Beta receptors. Fat cells contain a combination of both but fat cells with more beta receptors than alpha (such as the fat cells on areas such as your face) are less stubborn where else fat cells where there is more alpha receptor activity (especially alpha2 activity) are much harder for the body to burn. One of the reasons is they inhibit blood transport.Strategies to help reduce alpha 2 activity include high intensity interval training which has been shown to increase catacholomine neutransmitter activity (epinephrine and norepineprhine) which in turn help burn stubborn fat as well including things in the diet such as green tea (a popular ingredient in fat burners these days), chillies and spicy foods.Ultimately though, it’s a patience game as you will eventually lose fat in these areas and providing you have a good training plan that incorporates the right type of training (preferably a combination of HIIT and resistance training) along with a good diet, you’ll lose the stubborn fat too.
- You’re chronically stressed out – We live in stressful times and with all the pressures of our modern world where we’re always on the go, we often find ourself wound up like a top. This isn’t good news if you’re trying to lose weight because chronic stress leads to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Elevated cortisol leads to insulin resistance as well as switching on the body’s ability to store fat. Whilst cortisol can burn fat, it usually during periods of working out where this occurs. Cortisol also has a catabolic effect on muscle tissue as the body tries to create energy for flight or fight responses – this in turn leads to a decrease in metabolic rate and testosterone levels as one ages causing weight gain, especially in the stomach because cortisol can be produced in visceral belly fat. This makes it increasingly hard to shift the stubborn belly fat and it is advised that relaxation exercises can help so if you do find you’re stressed out and are finding it hard to shift the belly fat, an hour of meditation or a slow walk in nature would be far more effective than an hour on a treadmill.Furthermore, when you have chronically high levels of cortisol in the system, the body releases something called Neuropeptide Y (NPY) which can cause fat cells to grow. Cortisol also effects your diet by enhancing cravings for high calorie foods (Comfort foods).The bottom line is to manage stress through enough exercise, rest, recovery and stress relieving activities such as meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, just chilling out on the beach or even activities such as sex can help
- Poor sleep – If you’re catching on with a pattern about the importance of hormones then you’ll not be surprised to hear that I’m going to be talking about hormones again. We’ve discussed a few hormones in this article so far and sleep is important for a few hormones that help you repair and also burn fat. The three main hormones that are elevated during sleep are Testosterone (not so much in women), Growth hormones and Insulin like growth factors (IGH1) – During periods of deep sleep known as REM, these hormone levels are elevated and help to burn fat whilst build muscle tissue. The trouble is, in today’s world where we have people like Gary Vaynerchuck constantly telling us to hustle and the romanticism of grinding (And I don’t mean sexually) away throughout the day and night, sleep seems to have become something that is expendable with an “I’ll sleep when I am dead” mentality being the new shiny badge of success. The trouble is, too often, we don’t understand the importance on getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night especially if body composition is of any importance to you.
So there you have it, lots of talk there about hormones and insulin resistance as well as the right type of exercise. If you would like to find out more about this or our programmes and how we can help you get rid of belly fat, please feel free to book a discovery session by clicking here.