What causes belly fat

What causes belly fat.

what causes belly fat

Before going in detail on what causes belly fat, let us have a look on internal process inside our body when we take food.

How fatty acids, amino acids and sugar react in our body?

When we eat, our body breaks down food into three components. These are fatty acids, amino acids and sugars. All these there components are important for our body. Our body uses them for energy and movement, and they are the factors of building blocks for biological molecules in cells and tissues. Correct amount and high quality sources of these nutrients are important to maintain good health. But excess amount of these compounds lead to lots of health problems including increase in belly fat.

Our body has millions of fat cells known as adipocytes and the group of fat cells is known as adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is what we call FAT. Fat cells can grow more than 4 fold from their original size. Basically when we consume fat or carbohydrates, fat is in form of fatty acids and Fat flows in and out of fat cells in the form of “fatty acids”. When fatty acids inter fat cells, they are converted into triglycerides that are composed of three fatty acids bound together by a molecule called glycerol.

Fat in form of triglycerides is stored in fat cells for further uses when body needs it. When fat is to be used as energy, a process called Lipolysis begins in fat cells (adipocytes). Lipolysis causes triglycerides to separate free fatty acids and glycerol and release them into bloodstream from where they are further converted into energy through a process called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what your body uses to do everything.

Presence of sugar in our body is due to by eating easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich foods. These include refined carbohydrates such as flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup etc. Elevated limit of sugar is toxic for our body.

Sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream and is transported into our body cells by a hormone called insulin. Blood sugar is the easiest for your body to access for energy, followed by glycogen and is used as direct source of energy by our body. When our body realizes that extra sugar is floating around, it secretes extra insulin by pancreas in an attempt to get rid of it. Some sugar is burnt as energy but excess sugar gets stored as glycogen in the muscles and the liver. But soon the glycogen stores become full.

Next excess sugar is again sent back to liver by bloodstream and liver starts metabolizing sugar into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. The triglycerides are taken up with the help of the elevated insulin into the visceral fat and the fatty tissue located beneath the skin, around internal organs, in bone marrow and in breast tissue. This is where belly fat comes from and this is the answer of the question, what causes belly fat. In general belly fat is storage of fat in form of triglycerides converted from fatty acids, excess amino acids and sugar.

Protein is a vital structural and working substance in all cells of the body and offers a number of health benefits. It forms integral parts of most our body structures such as muscles, skin and bones. Structural proteins compose skin, hair, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons. Hence protein is the main building block in our body that is also responsible to repair any type of damages. On an average adults need to eat about 60 grams of protein per day (0.8 grams per kilogram of your weight or 10 to 15% of total calories). Protein is used as energy when our body is not getting enough calories from other nutrients or from the fat stored in the body.

Although protein is the most important compound for our body, excess amount is not good to maintain a healthy body. Protein is first metabolized into amino acids and ammonia. The amino acids are absorbed through the small intestine’s lining and enter the blood stream. Some of the amino acids build the body’s protein stores.

If more protein is consumed than is needed, it is converted into glucose that is used as energy by our body. If there is enough glucose in cells and no space left to store it as glycogen in your muscles or liver, the excess glucose is converted into fat and stored in fat cells.

Now it is clear that the combination of excess fat, sugar and protein is the main reasons what causes belly fat.

9 Main reasons what causes belly fat and must be restricted or avoided

1. Carbohydrates: These can be starchy items and sugars.

Starches are complex carbohydrate and are responsible for weight gain, high blood sugar, inflammation, and degenerative disease. Eating a high starch grain-based diet will make you feel fatigued, malnourished, constipated, jumpy, irritable, depressed, and vulnerable to chronic illness. Some examples are grains including whole grains, cereals, flour, rice, pastas, cornstarch, muffins, breads, bagels and crackers. Starchy vegetables such as slow-cooked beans (pinto, Lima, black beans), parsnips, carrots, corn, peas, French fries, potatoes and items made of potatoes also come in this category.

Sugars are also simple carbohydrates. Examples are white sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, corn syrup (contains fructose), beer (contains barley malt), milk (contains lactose), flavored yogurts, fruit and fruit juice.

High blood sugar in body causes extra insulin release, increased hunger and cravings. Increased amount of starches, sugars, lactose and fructose convert into fatty compounds which are then stored easily in the body as fat. Excess fat in our body causes obesity and obesity-related health issues, namely heart disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.

2. Trans Fats, Vegetable Oils and Margarine

Trans Fats are hydrogenated vegetable oils transformed under high heat, pressure and chemicals. Trans Fats are used to extend the shelf lives of packaged foods. It is very dangerous to consume. Trans Fats damage our body cells and cells become dysfunctional. It blocks proper metabolism, nutrition and create an inability to respond to glucose. This leads to diseases like diabetes and heart problems. It causes to increase body inflammation, an inability to fight infection and cancers, and also a marginal weight gain.

Margarine is artificial unhealthy butter. It also contains Trans-Fats and must be avoided.

Vegetable oils are processed oils that contain heavy amount of omega 6 fatty acids. Balanced amount of ratio (2:1 or 3:1) between omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids is necessary for our healthy body. Excess consumption of omega 6 oils leads to lots of health problems. These include inflammatory-related diseases, cardiovascular disease, increases in uric acid and abnormal fatty acid profiles in the fat tissue. It also can causes irritability, learning disabilities, liver toxicity, decreased immune function, mental and physical growth problems in infants and children.

Excess consumption of margarine, vegetable oils and Trans Fats is severely associated with belly fat gain. Hence trans-fat is one of main reason what causes belly fat.

3. Alcohols, the worst drink what causes belly fat in a great amount

Alcohol is injurious to health. It is written on cover of beer and wine bottles. Though moderate amount of red wine may lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Excess amount of alcohols may cause different types of serious health problems including lever damage and inflammations.

Alcohol is metabolized in lever and a small amount is converted into energy. A large amount of this, is converted into citrate that makes fatty acids out of glucose. Fats produced from alcohols are stored in belly fat cells and termed as beer belly.

A large amount alcohol leads to lots of severe health related problems. It is responsible for excess production of alcoholic fat and stored in belly. Alcoholic fat is what causes belly fat due to excess consumption of alcohols.

4. Low protein and low fiber diet

Protein is the building block of life and is crucial in maintaining healthy muscles, bones, hormones and metabolism. Lack of protein in your food than recommended amount lead you to be hunger. Eating less protein means you are eating much carbohydrates and sugar as you will eat more and store much fat in your body.
A general recommendation is to take calories 50% from carbs, about 20% from protein and less than 30% from fat. Some good protein sources are Egg white, Turkey slices, Kale, Kashi cereal, Smart for life protein bars.

Low-fiber diet means you eat foods that do not have a lot of fiber. The fibers slow down glucose absorption and control the rate of digestion. This helps with satiety and satiation (feeling full during and in between meals). For an average adult the recommendation is 25-40grams fiber daily.
Low fiber diet can lead to high cholesterol level, inflammation, and higher blood sugar level. And ultimately lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Low protein causes hunger due to which you will eat more leading excess fat to store in fat cells. Low fiber diet and high refined grains may lead to increased amounts of belly fat.

5. Inactivity and lack of exercises

Inactive lifestyle is the primary factor what causes belly fat and develop different types of health related problems. Physical work such as walking, running, cycling, swimming and exercises are the best ways to burn off extra calories. Dropping excess calories by keeping yourself active and regular exercise should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercises reduce your risk of heart disease, strengthen your bones, improve your mood and help control your weight.

To eliminate abdominal obesity, it is necessary to make the lifestyle modifications to eat right, be active and exercise regularly.

6. Lack of sleeping

Getting enough and quality sleep boosts your mood, minimizes stress, reduces inflammation and optimize your overall health. Most importantly when you are in slow wave sleep, it helps your body to burn a lot of fat. Many studies show that sleep disorders like sleep apnea lead to weight gain and abdominal fat.
Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours in case of adults, is considered as quality sleep provided that environment should be easy to sleep. Bed room should be free from equipment like computers, phones and television. Studies reveal that less Electro-magnetic field exposure lead to better mind and body rest.

Not enough sleep causes abdominal body fat. Quality of sleep is the key to make sure that your body burns off more fat.

7. Menopause

Menopause in women can cause excess belly fat. This is due to hormonal changes during menopause. There are two main hormones what causes belly fat in women and decide how much fat a woman can accumulate in body. These are estrogen and LPL (Lipoprotein lipase).
Estrogen is female sex hormone secreted normally by ovaries.
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that is found in the walls of blood vessels in muscle tissue, fat tissue and heart muscle. Function of LPL is to break down triglycerides in fatty acids and mono-glycerides. Fatty acids are then used as energy (following some other processes) as required and excess are stored in fat cells again as triglycerides.
Estrogen and LPL activities have reverse relationship to each other. If estrogen level is high, LPL has low activity and low fat is pulled out from the bloodstream into fat cells. And if estrogen level is low, high amount of fat is pulled into fat cells due to high LPL activities.
In puberty and in case of pregnancy, estrogen signals body to store extra fat on hips and thighs. As we know estrogen is produced by the ovaries and after menopause, estrogen secretion decreases and eventually stops. Loss of estrogen leads to redistribution of body fat and women tend to gain more weight around their middle.

Hormonal changes in women cause redistribution of body fat and lead to accumulate as visceral fat in abdomen.

8. Low testosterone is also one of main reasons what causes belly fat

Testosterone (T) is a male sex hormone found in human. Though it is produced both by male and female, women produce it in very low level that is why it is termed as male hormone. Low T-level lead to increased belly fat and boobs in men due to extra fat storage.
The level of T decreases as when you get older. This is a natural phenomenon. Low T-level cause gradual accumulation of fat in body and this is slow process. Sudden weight gain or rapid fluctuations in body fat are not sign of low T. Low T-level create restriction to burn fat and extra fat restricts development of testosterone. Both of them have mutual relationship. Low T also affects the overall health and lead to lots of health disorders. These include low sex drive, weakness, low semen volume, lack of sleeping, Osteoporosis, skewed HDL-LDL ratio, stress and erectile dysfunction.
Normalizing testosterone lead to reduction in the amount of fat in the body and can also help with blood sugar control. However it is very important to consume as much calories as required by the body. The extra calories will be converted to fat.

For men, production of testosterone level decreases naturally as they get older. Low T-level causes excess calories to store in visceral areas what causes belly fat.

9. Stress

If you have stress on regular basis, you are storing much fat in abdominal area in form of fat. In this case cortisol is one of main reasons what causes belly fat. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced in adrenal glands by our body. It is an essential hormone secreted by our body when we are in stressed, anxious, or depressed. Cortisol initiates a cascade of other physiological responses necessary for our body to keep functioning in a normal way. In normal condition secretion of cortisol lasts for a short period of time. Afterwards metabolic functions in body go back to normal.
Regular stress results elevated cortisol in our body and tends to take fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips. It also leads to muscle breakdown and an increase in fat deposits. Cortisol causes healthy fat to convert into unhealthy fat that is known as visceral fat. As this fat is deposited in a large amount in belly, the results is excessive stubborn belly fat.

Excessive constant stress keeps cortisol levels high and makes the body to gain an increased amount of belly fat. It also resists to lose belly fat and causes other severe health problems. This includes insulin resistance, high level of blood sugar, inflammation, high LDL cholesterol level (the bad kind), heart disease and cancer.

Conclusion on what causes belly fat

There are lots of reasons for excess belly fat. These include imbalance diet, alcohols, trans fat, lack of physical activities, low testosterone level and constant stress etc. Losing fat is nothing but a simple mathematical formula, Calories in vs. calories out. Burn more calories than you eat. Start making wiser food choices and finding ways to increase the activity you do every day.


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