UNBUCKLE YOUR BELT, HERE IT COMES
A lot has changed since the first Thanksgiving shared by the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. The “lot” being the growing groaning table of Thanksgiving goodies. Creamed this, buttered that, every kind of carb from mashed potatoes to mac and cheese, tater tot casseroles, and of course sweet potato casseroles with tons of tiny little melting marshmallows. And pies. Don’t forget the pies. All kinds of pies. Overeating has become a tradition. Did you know that the average American gains 1 to 3 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day every year? According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans add on an average of 0.7% of their weight during the holiday season. All that food just dumps itself onto your belly. That might have been jelly before you jumped into the fight for the greasy, crisp turkey skin.
AN ABUNDANCE OF BELLY
But for many people, a big belly isn’t about a holiday belly. Extra pounds park themselves around their middle on an ongoing basis. Potbelly. The pouch. Spare tire. Middle-age spread. Though the term might sound dated, “middle-age spread” is a greater concern than ever. As people go through their middle years, their proportion of fat to body weight tends to increase — more so in women than men. And lower belly fat is hard to shed. Certain body fats hold onto fat around the lower stomach longer than any other part of the body.
ARE YOU A PEAR, OR ARE YOU AN APPLE?
Fat isn’t just “fat”. There are different types that have different effects on different parts of your body. But we’ll focus on subcutaneous and visceral fat here.
The subcutaneous fat is the outermost layer of fat; it’s the fat you can pinch between your fingers. This layer sits on top of the abdominal muscle tissue. If you can pinch a good amount of subcutaneous fat, chances are you have a large amount of visceral fat lurking underneath your abdominal muscles. Subcutaneous fat is less harmful to health and serves as a layer of protection for your organs as well as insulation to regulate body temperature. This is what defines the “pear shape”.
Visceral fat hangs beneath the muscles in your stomach, close to all your organs. Can’t see it and can’t pinch it. This is what is called the “apple shape”. In the mid-1990s, scientists learned visceral fat releases hormones and other substances that affect the body’s functioning. These substances cause inflammation, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases. Visceral fat also secretes a protein that makes it harder for the body to use insulin effectively, which increases the risk of diabetes. And because visceral fat is so close to the liver, it may cause the liver to produce too much cholesterol, which raises the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can cause sleep apnea, asthma, and even different types of cancer. Not exactly something to give thanks for.
HORMONAL FEASTING FRENZY
Let’s get into some of those hormones we were talking about. Let’s say you’re doing everything right. You work out and eat healthy meals as much as you can, but your belly won’t budge. The fat hanging over the pants just persists. The same hormones that mess with your libido (estrogen and testosterone), can impact your waistline. Cortisol also plays a major role in metabolism regulation, and basically, chronic stress can lead to chronically high cortisol. That’s a one-way ticket to a big appetite and high blood sugar. (Next stop: belly fat!). You may have leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that helps regulate your appetite. It tells your brain when your belly is full. If your body starts ignoring leptin’s messages, that’s called leptin resistance. Another hormonal cause of belly fat? Insulin imbalance. Wild sugar cravings, sudden weight gain, and lack of focus could all indicate insulin issues. A common symptom of an underactive thyroid is weight gain, often around the abdomen. So don’t blame that gut you’ve got on the platters of goodies that have put you in a food coma.
THE SAFEST WAY TO WHITTLE YOUR MIDDLE
Belly fat can be tricky to ditch. Like the day-after-Thanksgiving Day-leftovers, it just keeps hanging around. Belly fat can drive people to some pretty dangerous ways to dump the lump. Extreme or bizarre diets. Starving themselves until they’re ready to pass out. Exercising until they lose it. (And we’re not talking about the fat). Online and over-the-counter meds that might actually do more harm. What you need to do, is see a medical professional who is trained in hormones and the way they affect your weight, and specifically not-beer gut. The hormone experts at Denver Hormone Health can help you carve out a safe and personalized program. It’s called Hormonal Weight Support. Everything you need to help you on your weight loss (belly loss) journey. Including emotional support. At Denver Hormone Health, they understand your frustration and care about you in every way. From hormonal replacement therapy to the guidance of experienced nutrition and exercise specialists. Denver Hormone Health is the way to make that belly be a thing of the past. Be your best. Feel your best. Look your best. Call Denver Hormone Health for an appointment now.