Diet & Health

Why have I got abdominal fat particularly?

This is dedicated to two members, who have both asked about this, and it’s been a really interesting one to research. Carrying extra weight is troubling enough, carrying a spare tyre literally around the middle of the body, is extra worrying for two reasons:

1) it doesn’t look nice and we feel more self conscious about not being able to do belts up than we do having chunky legs that we can hide with trousers;

2) we are cautioned that abdominal fat is the most dangerous for health (and this is true, because all the organs are in the trunk area and fat around the middle - called visceral fat - is literally the fat that also protects the organs. We want enough for protection but no where near so much that it starts to impinge upon our organs and their space.)

So is there anything particularly going on with tummy fat? Yes there is....

As a general principle, I have said previously that people are all different and we all store weight in different places. This is largely determined by genetics and likely follows gender patterns. Hence, if your dad has a tendency towards a ‘beer belly’ – so might you if you are male. For females, if our mothers tend to put on weight on hips and thighs – so we are more likely to do the same. It is by no means a certain pattern – but just a likelihood. This is why I find the hip and thigh diet completely daft. When I was heavier than I am now, virtually all the extra weight was on my upper body (tummy, boobs, face) I rarely if ever gain on my hips and thighs. Hence I am no more likely to lose weight from my hips and thighs than I am to gain it there!

The first point, therefore, is to be aware if you may have a genetic tendency to carry weight around your middle. Don’t just look at parents – look at their siblings – genetics don’t follow the direct line consistently. Look at grandparents too – anything that may give you a guide. It doesn’t then mean that you can’t do anything to overcome this. However, we all know someone who has big hips, no matter how slim they get, and this is body structure and there will be a limit as to how much any person can change such fundamentals of shape.

Beyond the genetics that we can do less about, what else is going on?

In this article I’m going to look at hormones, exercise and specific foods as three key culprits in abdominal fat... Interestingly, as the research has unfolded, the key factor has turned out to be stress...

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