Not only is belly fat unsightly but it can also be quite dangerous. Women with a waist circumference of 35 inches or greater are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. The more belly fat that’s under your muscles, the more likely you are to be at risk, too. For those of us with a lot of subcutaneous belly fat (that’s me!), well, our risk for disease is lower but we sure would like to banish belly fat, right???
Why Belly Fat???
Truth time…I have always been the ‘fat kid’. Okay, maybe not hugely fat but I was always the chubbiest of my friends from elementary school and beyond. I’ve always felt like the fat kid. I was teased, tormented and bullied all through high school because of it. Therefore, one of my strongest desires has always been to banish belly fat.
And, even after I lost over 40 pounds and dropped to a size 6, I still had belly fat. I had belly fat hanging over the top of my jeans. I still felt super self-conscious in tight shirts and bathing suits.
So, to banish belly fat has always been a dream of mine.
What Causes Belly Fat?
Okay, so clearly there seems to be some genetics factor at play here, at least for me. Because no matter what I do, I cannot totally banish belly fat.
But, once you do understand some major causes of belly fat, and why it hits you as you age, you can take a few steps to reverse it.
A client of mine once said that she didn’t think she was stressed out because she was retired and didn’t have job stress.
And then she read a book that explained how stress is triggered by worry, by negative self-talk and by lack of exercise.
So, if you think you don’t have a high-stress lifestyle, consider your thoughts and activity levels.
Because stress causes belly fat. The role of cortisol is to shunt energy to your vital organs for fight or flight. Since we rarely fight or flee our problems anymore, that energy is stored as belly fat. So, it’s easy to get at. Make sense?
Estrogen also has a belly fat storage role.
Estrogen levels rise towards menopause and it becomes dominant, belly fat starts to show up. And, the more belly fat you have, the more estrogen is made, leading to more belly fat.
A high sugar diet.
Even a high carb diet, healthy carbs or not, causes belly fat.
This is because carbs break down really fast in your body and cause a flush of glucose into your blood. Insulin comes along to remove that glucose and put it away for use.
But, often all that glucose is just way too much for your body to use up so insulin shunts it to fat cells. This process is also going to store fat throughout your body, not just your belly, but the belly seems to take a good hit.
How to Banish Belly Fat Naturally
There isn’t a lot we can do about genetics (much to my dismay…one day I’ll accept this…maybe).
However, we CAN banish belly fat by doing something about the 3 main causes I talked about earlier! This is the good news!
First, ditch the sugar. Ditch the junk food. And ditch the high carb diet. This means reducing breads, pastas, rice and other carb-heavy foods down to no more than 1 cup at any given meal.
Second, increase your intake of healthy fatslike, you guessed it, olive oil! Other healthy fats are avocados, coconut milk, walnuts, flaxseeds and macadamia nuts. When you eat more healthy fats, your food digests a lot slower, causing a trickle of energy into your blood. This is way easier for insulin to handle – this trickle gets used up at the same rate as its coming in, reducing the storage of fat. Yay!
Third, reduce your stress. Think happy thoughts. Spend 30 minutes a day doing something mindless and fun. Just relax.
Fourth, to address the estrogen problem, eat more ground flaxseed(see above), drink more lemon water, eat more fat and less carbs. Replace commercial personal care and cleaning products with all-natural ones. Avoid foods with added hormones, like dairy or insanely huge chickens.
I’ve always coveted rock-hard abs and the ability to pull off a bikini. But it’s not going to happen. I do have rock hard abs – I’m super proud of my abs. You just can’t see them!
But, to banish belly fat takes time and effort. To do it safely, switch to a whole foods high fat diet and slowly transition away from a lot of carbs and sugars. Even a few weeks without carbs or sugars and you’ll have a noticeably flatter belly.