Here Are Some Ideas On What Causes Hanging Belly Fat

What Causes Hanging Belly Fat


Many people have the common goal of reducing their abdominal or belly fat. what causes hanging belly fat

While keeping a healthy body weight and body fat percentage is crucial for optimum health, different types of belly fat might have varied effects on your wellbeing.

There are two primary types:

Visceral fat is the kind that covers the liver and other internal organs in the abdomen. High visceral fat levels are linked to a higher risk of developing chronic conditions such the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and particular types of cancer (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is the layer that lies immediately beneath the skin. This kind protects your organs from harm and acts as insulation to control body temperature. It is also less hazardous to your health (1Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

However, a high level of subcutaneous fat is associated with a larger level of visceral fat, raising your chance of developing health issues. It’s crucial to concentrate on living a healthy lifestyle that prevents consuming excessive amounts of both types of fat (4Trusted Source).

Here Are Some Ideas On What Causes Hanging Belly Fat

What Causes Hanging Belly Fat
What Causes Hanging Belly Fat

1. Sweet foods and drinks


Unbeknownst to them, many people consume more added sugar each day.

Baked goods, pastries, muffins, flavored yogurts, breakfast cereals, granola and protein bars, prepackaged foods, sugar-sweetened drinks (SSBs), and other processed foods are examples of common foods in the diet that might be high in added sugar (5Trusted Source).

In particular, increasing visceral belly fat is linked to a diet heavy in SSBs (such as sodas, speciality coffees, fruit juices, and energy drinks) (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

Due to their accessibility, affordability, and convenience, SSBs are the main source of sugar consumption in the US. Unlike food, SSBs can be immediately ingested in large quantities since they require little processing (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

As a result, you consume a lot of calories and sugar in one sitting, with little to no nutritional benefit. It’s usual for many people to eat many SSBs in a single day.

A day’s worth of two 16 fluid ounce (480 mL) soda bottles, for instance, contains 384 calories and 104 grams of sugar. This can result in an excessive daily caloric intake and excess visceral fat, especially if consumed along with other foods and beverages high in sugar (8Trusted Source).

Additionally, drinking your calories, especially from SSBs, might cause a brief surge in blood sugar followed by a crash, making you feel hungry right after and forcing you to drink or eat again shortly (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

Though some contend that the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in SSBs is the primary cause of visceral fat, most research indicates that HFCS and ordinary sugar (sucrose) both cause weight gain by offering too many calories, rather than having a particular function in fat storage (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source,13Trusted Source).

Even while all foods and beverages can be enjoyed in moderation, it’s preferable to save foods and drinks with added sugar for special occasions. Choose water, unsweetened coffee or tea, and whole, less processed foods as a substitute most of the time.

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SYNOPSIS An excessive intake of added sugars, particularly from sugar-sweetened beverages, may result in an increase in belly fat. Always choose for water, unsweetened coffee or tea, and a diet high in unprocessed, natural foods.

2. Liquor

Alcohol impacts can be beneficial or detrimental.

Moderate consumption, especially of red wine, is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease (11Trusted Source).

However, excessive alcohol consumption can result in inflammation, liver disease, some cancers, excess weight gain, and a host of other health issues (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise either abstaining from alcohol altogether or limiting consumption to no more than one drink per day for men and two for women (16Trusted Source).

A higher body mass index (BMI) and increased visceral fat deposits are also linked to excessive alcohol use (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

According to several theories (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source), alcohol can cause belly fat and general weight gain in the following ways:

A lot of calories are included in alcohol (7 calories per gram).
Alcoholic beverages commonly include a lot of sugar.
Alcohol may lower inhibitions and boost hunger, increasing total caloric consumption.
Alcohol use may cause worse judgment and increased eating of less nourishing foods.
It might change the hormones that control satiety and hunger.
It might reduce the oxidation of fat, saving stored fat. Nevertheless, additional study is required.
Cortisol may rise, which encourages the storage of belly fat.
A person could feel less motivated to exercise the day of and the day following drinking.
Alcohol causes poorer sleep, which is linked to a higher BMI and more fat storage.
Alcohol use and the accumulation of belly fat have been linked in a significant dose-dependent manner, according to a recent assessment of 127 research (22Trusted Source).

A high alcohol intake (defined as two to three drinks or more per day) has also been connected to weight increase and abdominal obesity, particularly in men, according to other studies (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Aim for no more than 1-2 drinks per day if you wish to drink.

SUMMARY Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol (more than two drinks per day) is linked to weight growth and abdominal fat.

Third, trans fats
The least healthy fats are trans fats.

Although trans fats are found in small amounts in nature, they are mostly produced for the food system by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to increase their stability and enable them to solidify at room temperature.

Trans fats are frequently utilized in packaged meals and baked goods as a less expensive but still functional substitute for butter, lard, and other more expensive ingredients.

Artificial trans fats have been found to increase inflammation, which has been linked to a number of disorders including insulin resistance, heart disease, several types of cancer, and a host of others. Ruminant trans fats, which are naturally present in dairy and animal products, do not, however, have the same detrimental impact on health (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).

Artificial trans fats should be strictly restricted or altogether avoided, according to the American Heart Association. Due to their detrimental impact on health, many nations, including the United States and Canada, have outlawed the use of trans fats in food products (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33).

There isn’t much new research on the subject, despite the fact that trans fat has been linked to bad health in recent years and may also lead to visceral fat (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

Even though many nations have taken action to restrict or outright prohibit the use of artificial trans fats in the food supply, it is still necessary to read the nutrition label if you have any questions.

SYNOPSIS Artificial trans fats are associated with increasing belly fat and have a negative impact on heart health. Trans fats have been outlawed in commercial food in both the US and Canada.

4. A sedentary way of life and inactivity

One of the major risk factors for adverse health outcomes is a sedentary lifestyle. It entails spending a lot of time sitting down during the day, such as when watching TV, working at a desk, traveling a long distance, or playing video games (37, 38).

Even if someone is physically active, such as through exercise or manual labor, too much time spent sitting down might increase the risk of adverse health outcomes and weight gain (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

The majority of kids and adults, according to study, do not meet the advised physical activity standards. In fact, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, up to 80% of individuals do not meet the suggested aerobic and resistance training guidelines (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

This was shown in a historic survey in the US that indicated there was a significant increase in men and women’s weight, waist circumference, and physical inactivity between 1988 and 2010, indicating Americans are getting less active (43Trusted Source).

Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to an increase in visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat, which serves to emphasize the detrimental impact limiting activity has on the body (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).

Fortunately, frequent physical exercise and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting will help you manage your weight and reduce your chance of developing more belly fat (44Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source).

According to one study, those who engaged in resistance or aerobic exercise for a year after losing weight were able to avoid regaining visceral fat, but those who did not exercise experienced a 25–38% rise in belly fat (48Trusted Source).

Another study found that compared to people who sat for less than 4 hours per day, those who sat for more than 8 hours per day (excluding sleep hours) had a 62 percent higher risk of obesity (49Trusted Source).

The majority of individuals should strive to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise) each week and perform frequent resistance training.

Additionally, make an effort to reduce sedentary habits and extended sitting. Try to incorporate “standing breaks” every 30 to 90 minutes if your job involves a lot of sitting, whether it be by standing for 5 to 10 minutes or taking a short stroll around your office, house, or neighborhood.

SYNOPSIS Weight gain and an increase in belly fat are two health hazards linked to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise. Aim for 150 minutes or more per week of physical activity that ranges from moderate to vigorous.

5. A protein-light diet

Appropriate dietary protein consumption can aid in weight management.

Given that protein takes longer to digest than other macronutrients, high protein diets may aid in weight loss and prevent weight gain by making people feel more satisfied. Additionally, protein promotes muscle growth and repair, which raises metabolism and increases resting energy expenditure (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source, 52Trusted Source, 53Trusted Source).

According to several studies, persons who eat the most protein had a lower risk of having extra belly fat (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).

It’s interesting to note that a recent 2021 study in older men with restricted mobility found that protein intake above the RDA (>0.8g/kg/d) was linked to higher reductions in visceral belly fat than protein intake that just met or was below the RDA (57Trusted Source).

Try to incorporate a high-quality protein source at every meal and snack to maximize your protein consumption. Examples of such foods are lean meat, poultry, tofu, eggs, beans, and lentils.

SUMMARY Moderate body weight and lower belly fat are both correlated with high protein intake.

6. The menopause

It’s very typical for menopausal women to put on belly fat.

Estrogen signals the body to start storing fat on the hips and thighs around adolescence in anticipation of a prospective pregnancy. Although it can be challenging to remove in some situations, this subcutaneous fat is not unhealthy from a health perspective (58Trusted Source).

One year following a woman’s last menstrual period, menopause is considered to have started. At this time, estrogen levels sharply decline. Despite the fact that each woman is affected by menopause differently, in general, it tends to make women store their body fat in their belly rather than their hips and thighs. Sources 59, 60, 61, and 62 all provide reliable information.

Although menopause is a normal part of aging, therapies like estrogen therapy may reduce your chance of storing belly fat and the related health problems (63Trusted Source, 64Trusted Source).

Speak to a healthcare practitioner or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you have any questions.

SYNOPSIS As a result of menopause’s natural hormonal changes, fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to the abdomen.

7. Inappropriate gut bacteria

Your gut contains hundreds of different species of bacteria, mostly in your colon. While some of these bacteria are good for your health, others might be harmful.

Your gut flora, also known as your microbiome, is made up of all the bacteria in your gut. Gut health is crucial for preserving a strong immune system and lowering the risk of disease.

Current research indicates that imbalances in gut bacteria may increase your risk of contracting a number of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and gut disorders (such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease), even though the relationship between the gut microbiome and health is still being studied (65Trusted Source, 66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source).

Additionally, some studies indicates that a poor balance of intestinal bacteria may encourage weight gain, particularly abdominal fat. Particularly, having more Firmicutes bacteria than Bacteroidetes bacteria is linked to more weight and visceral fat (68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source, 70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source).

It is believed that changes in bacterial variety can affect how nutrients and calories are metabolized, increase inflammation, and modify how hormones are regulated, all of which can result in weight gain. Nevertheless, more study on this subject is required (72Trusted Source, 73Trusted Source, 74Trusted Source, 75Trusted Source).

One randomized, double-blind 12-week study of obese postmenopausal women found that consuming a probiotic containing five different strains of “good” bacteria significantly decreased visceral fat and body fat percentage. Limitations were imposed by the small group size and the erratic nutrition, though (76Trusted Source).

Additionally, probiotic supplementation was strongly linked to lower BMI, body fat percentage, and visceral fat, according to a 2018 evaluation of studies involving 957 individuals. Since the impact sizes were tiny, the findings might not have clinical significance (77Trusted Source).

Although there seems to be a link between gut microbiome diversity and visceral obesity, additional study is required to fully understand this link and to determine the appropriate therapies and probiotic strains.

Additionally, a diet low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fat is often connected to having unhealthy gut bacteria, as opposed to a diet high in fiber and low in sugar and saturated fat and high in whole, minimally processed foods (78Trusted Source).

SUMMARY Alterations in the variety of bacteria in the gut may be linked to increased weight and visceral fat.

8. Cortisol and stress

A hormone called cortisol is necessary for survival.

It’s produced by the adrenal glands and is referred to as a “stress hormone” because it aids in your body’s reaction to a threat or stressor that is either physical or mental (79Trusted Source).

In contrast to acute stress brought on by an urgent threat, most people nowadays experience chronic, low-grade stress (e.g., running from a predator). The primary stressors are psychological stress and actions that raise the possibility of adverse health outcomes (e.g., highly processed diets, physical inactivity, poor sleep).

Regrettably, persistent stress can promote the buildup of visceral fat and make weight loss challenging because it raises cortisol levels excessively. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels in relation to food may cause some people to pick high-calorie foods as a kind of comfort, which can result in unintended weight gain. 80 Trusted Source, 81 Trusted Source

To prepare the body for the perceived threat, this might result in overconsumption of meals heavy in fat and sugar, which are rapid and dense sources of energy. These days, people turn to food for consolation because of their ongoing stress, which can result in overeating and ultimately weight gain (82Trusted Source).

Chronic stress can also influence other lifestyle choices that could result in weight gain, including unhealthy coping mechanisms (such as substance abuse), poor sleep, sedentary habits, and physical inactivity (83Trusted Source).

Additionally, it appears that stress and weight gain are inversely correlated, with excess belly fat itself appearing to raise cortisol levels and contribute to the body’s chronic stress cycle (84Trusted Source).

Therefore, a top focus should be on managing your stress by health-promoting lifestyle practices (such as eating a nutrient-dense diet, exercising frequently, practicing meditation, and taking care of your mental health) (85Trusted Source).

SUMMARY When produced in excess, the stress-related hormone cortisol may result in an increase in belly fat. Maintaining healthy living habits is essential for controlling cortisol levels and managing chronic stress.

9. A fiber-poor diet

For optimal health and weight management, fiber is crucial.

Certain forms of fiber can promote fullness, regulate hunger hormones, and control hunger (86).

Soluble fiber consumption was linked to lower belly fat in an observational research with 1,114 men and women. There was a 3.7 percent decrease in belly fat accumulation for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber (87Trusted Source).

The reverse effect on hunger and weight gain, including increases in belly fat, appears to be caused by diets high in refined carbs and poor in fiber (88Trusted Source).

High-fiber whole grains were connected to decreased abdominal fat, while refined grains were linked to increased abdominal fat, according to a sizable study involving 2,854 adults (89Trusted Source).

Fiber-rich foods include:

lentils, beans, and entire grains
Oats, fruit, simple popcorn, almonds, and seeds
SYNOPSIS A diet high in refined grains and low in fiber may raise the risk of weight gain and greater levels of belly fat.

Genetics, 10.

Genes significantly influence the likelihood of acquiring obese (90Trusted Source).

Similarly, it appears that genetics may have a role in the propensity to accumulate fat in the abdomen as opposed to other areas of the body (91Trusted Source, 92Trusted Source).

It’s interesting to note that recent research has begun to isolate specific genes linked to fat. Leptin, a hormone involved in hunger control and weight management, is one hormone whose production and activity may be influenced by specific genes (93Trusted Source, 94Trusted Source, 95Trusted Source, 96Trusted Source).

Although encouraging, much more study in this area is still required.

SUMMARY Genetics may affect where we store fat in the body, including an increased risk for abdominal fat storage, though more research is needed in this area.

11. Insufficient sleep
It’s important to get adequate sleep for your health.

Numerous studies have connected lack of sleep to weight growth, which may include belly fat (97Trusted Source, 98Trusted Source, 99Trusted Source, 100Trusted Source).

Lack of sleep can result in weight gain for a variety of reasons, such as increased food consumption to make up for fatigue, hormonal changes that affect hunger, inflammation, and less physical activity because of exhaustion (101Trusted Source).

For instance, people who don’t get enough sleep each night are more likely to choose low-nutrient options (such as foods heavy in sugar and fat) and eat more calories each day than people who do (102Trusted Source).

Additionally, sleep issues may result in weight gain. Sleep apnea, one of the most prevalent illnesses, is a condition in which breathing periodically stops throughout the course of the night as a result of soft tissue in the throat obstructing the airway (103Trusted Source, 104Trusted Source).

But it’s a “chicken or the egg” situation when it comes to weight growth and sleep deprivation. While lack of sleep appears to be a factor in weight growth, higher BMIs can also result in sleep problems and sleep disorders (105Trusted Source).

Lack of sleep or sleep of poor quality can cause weight gain, including the storage of belly fat.

The conclusion
Gaining excess belly fat can be influenced by a wide range of circumstances.

Some factors, including as your genes and the normal hormonal changes that occur throughout menopause, are beyond your control. However, there are a lot of other aspects that you can control.

You can reduce belly fat and lower the dangers to your health by making healthy decisions about your diet, how much exercise you get, and how you handle stress.

What Causes Hanging Belly Fat
What Causes Hanging Belly Fat


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