Many of us are keen to tone up around the middle in search of an elusive fat stomach or at least a reduction in the squeezy love handles few of us are fond of. The interesting thing about belly fat is that it is not all one and the same. Rather there are specific differences in the positioning and type of belly fat depending on the underlying causes. So if your gut has been bothering you, here are some ways to determine what the cause of your belly fat is and how you can reduce it.
1. Bloated belly
Unlike belly fat that has been stored overtime and develops gradually, a bloated belly will start reasonably flat at the start of the day and gradually distend as a greater volume of the offending foods causing the gas and fluid build pass through the digestive tract. Abdominal bloating and distention that result from a number of different foods but dairy, gluten, wheat and fructose can be some of the common offending items. If you regularly suffer from bloating and discomfort as the day progresses, try a probiotic supplement to help relieve your symptoms and if that does not prove fruitful, see a dietitian who specialises in irritable Bowel Syndrome and low FODMAP diets.
2. Beer belly
Unfortunately a beer belly does not just impact men, and perhaps should rather be named a wine belly instead. Over time a regular high intake of alcohol (>3-4 drinks most days) for many big drinkers is associated with a hard packed fat which sits relatively high in the abdominal area. Beer (or wine) guts are generally hard as it is caused by an accumulation of visceral fat, which is packed very tightly in the abdominal wall giving the stored fat very little room to move. Of all the types of fat, visceral fat is the worst as it sits very close to our essential organs and the best way to get rid of it is to seriously reduce your alcohol intake long term.
3. Muffin top
Indicative of hormonal disturbance, thickening of the lower waist with a soft, jelly like fat can suggest that a number of hormonal issues including insulin resistance and PCOS may be gradually driving up insulin levels over time leading to this distinct pattern of fat deposition. While sedentary lifestyles are predictive of insulin resistance, high carbohydrate diets as well as genetics can drive this fat storage pattern as we get older. The best thing to do if you notice this pattern of weight gain is to act quickly and target the carbohydrate content of your diet to help keep the hormones that drive this weight gain under control. Specifically if you cannot lose weight from this area, and are already exercising and eating well, it will pay to visit a GP or endocrinologist to get your hormones sorted.
4. Stress induced belly
If you are not a big drinker but have noticed that fat is depositing around the top of your stomach, stress could be somewhat to blame. Thought to be the result of elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, a lack of sleep along with a poor diet and lack of exercise can result in an increase in visceral fat not related specifically to a high intake of alcohol. While diet and exercise is important, this type of fat storage suggests that your lifestyle needs more balance as your body is storing fat in places it should not be. More cardio exercise will help, as will more sleep, relaxation and lifestyle balance.
5. Mummy tummy
Most women who have been blessed with children are all too aware that their tummy is not quite as it once was. Ranging from a general skin sag to a significant fatty pouch the good news is that this type of subcutaneous fat is not harmful and the issue with it tends to be more aesthetic than a health issue. If there is actual fat present, high intensity exercise will help to budge this rather stubborn fat but in many cases it is more an issue of loose skin than significant fat stores.