The 13 main causes of belly fat and how to avoid them.
Belly fat is a common problem around the world and is caused by many different issues. This is also called “Central Obesity” if you are overweight around your midsection. Unfortunately belly fat is dangerous for your health as it surrounds the internal organs and can raise the risk of diabetes, heart attack or stroke.
In this article, we highlight a list of the 13 main causes of belly fat and how you can cure these issues naturally.
1. Sugar: The main cause of belly fat is consuming too much sugar which spikes the blood sugars and raises the insulin hormone too high in the body. Having too much sugar in the blood can kill you, so as a defence mechanism the body converts the excess sugar into fat cells that are stored mainly around the belly area and the liver. Sugar also inflames the arteries and blood vessels which causes them to become clogged, making the problem worse. Sugar is hidden in all kinds of foods such as fruit juices, flavoured yoghurts, doughnuts, cereal bars, sauces, candy, soda drinks and many others. You should cut these out of the diet when trying to lose belly fat and always check the labels for hidden sugars like maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup and fruit concentrates.
2. Refined Carbs helps to reduce belly fat: Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars in the body, however some release faster into the blood than others. Refined carbs are foods like rice, cereal popcorn, bread, pasta, and other flour-based products. These are high on the glycaemic index and will cause belly fat cells to form. To combat this, cut out the refined foods and eat high fibre green vegetables like kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. These types of vegetables are loaded with fibre which buffers the sugar in the body and provides lots of minerals which support weight loss. The fibre also feeds the friendly bacteria in the colon which fuel the body and reduce blood sugars.
3. Trans Fats: Some of the worst belly fat causing foods are hydrogenated oils like vegetable oil, margarine and easy spreads, soy oil, cottonseed oil and canola oil. These trigger insulin resistance, meaning that your cells can no longer accept sugar, leading to fat around the midsection. Trans fats also increase the risk of dementia, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. We recommend cooking your own healthy meals using extra virgin coconut oil. This is rich in MCT’s (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) which are an easy to burn fuel source instead of running on sugar. Some other healthy fats are extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocado oil and eco-friendly red palm oil. These are much easier for the liver to process and will not cause weight gain.
4. Stimulants: If you are gaining weight around the stomach yet you don’t consume too many carbs then it may be caused by stimulants. Energy drinks are the worst kind of stimulant and are loaded with caffeine, taurine and sugar which stimulates your adrenal glands giving you an artificial energy boost. This damages the adrenal glands and causes them to pump out too much cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. High cortisol causes your upper leg and butt muscles to waste away and be converted into sugar, which then forms belly fat. Drinking too much coffee or caffeinated drinks can also have this effect, so be mindful of how much you are consuming. Switch to a good quality electrolyte powder with potassium citrate to boost energy levels naturally at the cellular level and make sure that contains no sugar.
5. Stress: Whenever you feel stressed or anxious your adrenal glands will be producing too much cortisol which can lead to weight gain around the stomach. Stress can come from all kinds of factors such as social fear, nutrient deficiencies, hormone imbalances, insecurity or feeling judged by other people. We recommend consuming potassium-rich salads with avocados, collard greens and beet tops daily to lower stress.
6. Estrogen: The body absorbs many dangerous toxins from the environment, like pesticides, heavy metals and pollutants. These are called endocrine disrupters which puts the hormones out of balance and are very dangerous for your health. These often cause the body to have too much estrogen in both women and men, leading to weight around the stomach and breasts. To help clear out these chemicals from your body and regulate estrogen you can consume sea kelp, kale, Brussels sprouts, parsley, and DIM (Diindolylmethane) DIM is a form of concentrated cruciferous vegetables which naturally balances estrogen and detoxifies the liver.
7. Soda Drinks: Soda drinks are one of the main culprits for weight gain and belly fat in modern society, as they are loaded with artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives. This includes both sugary, diet, zero and sugar-free forms of soda pop drinks. Added ingredients like aspartame, phosphoric acid and others cause insulin resistance in the cells leading to belly fat. These chemicals also deplete your body of other important nutrients like Vitamin B1, which helps to keep your stress down. Switch to a good quality carbonated mineral water, this has a little fizz to keep you satisfied and will help hydrate you properly. Volcanic sourced waters are best as these contain lots of trace minerals which are involved in fat burning.
8. Artificial Sweeteners: Many “sugar-free products” contain artificial ingredients which cause insulin resistance in the cells which leads to belly fat. Avoid food which has added MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) which is added as a flavour enhancer, yet is a leading cause of weight obesity. This is also often added to sweetened buffet meats at restaurants. Aspartame, sucralose and saccharin may also lead to insulin resistance which makes it hard to keep the weight off. Some products also contain maltodextrin, dextrose and polydextrose. All of these ingredients are worse than sugar and are much higher on the glycaemic index. Switch to a good quality alternative sweetener like stevia, erythritol, monk fruit or xylitol.
9. Low-Fat Products: Many products are labelled as “Low Fat” in supermarkets in order to attract those trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, products which are low fat are often high in sugar and carbs, which actually forms fat cells in the body. Dietary fat from natural foods is a great fuel source for the body and contains fat-soluble nutrients which help you to lose weight. Like Vitamin A, K2, E, D and Choline. Low carbohydrate diets are the best way to improve your health, lose weight around the stomach and reverse type 2 diabetes. We recommend healthy keto, a diet where you consume lots of natural full-fat whole foods like grass-fed cream, cheese, butter, eggs and fattier cuts of meat to energise your body. Salad and green vegetables with high fibre are unlimited on this diet and help to cure the underlying problem with the cells called insulin resistance. Curing insulin resistance keeps the weight off for good, by balancing hormones throughout the body.
10. Avoid Alcohol to reduce belly fat: Alcohol is a chemical toxin which slows down and damages the liver. Alcohol can cause visceral fat to accumulate around the organ which leads to belly fat. The liver has to use alcohol as a fuel source before it uses energy from your food or your own fat stores, so this slows down your metabolism. For a relaxing effect without the damage, try consuming Kombucha Tea. This is a fermented drink with much less alcohol content, and has the same calming effect, making you feel peaceful and relaxed.
11. Starches are another form of carbohydrate which break down into sugar in the body and cause belly fat. Potatoes are full of starch which breaks down into high sugar when cooked or heated. Other foods high in starch include corn, popcorn, white rice, sweet potatoes, beets, peas and beans. Cut out these foods when trying to lose belly fat and switch to alternatives like cauliflower rice or broccoli rice. You can also use cauliflower in all kinds of recipes to make healthy dough for pizza bases and many more.
12. Sleep: When we don’t get enough sleep we crave carbohydrates, sugar and starchy foods to give us an energy boost. A lack of sleep also causes high cortisol levels which overexert your adrenal gland, leading to low mood, low blood sugars, irritability and stress. Valerian Root is an excellent herb to aid sleep in capsule form. You can also drink chamomile tea or passionflower tea to calm the nervous system. Pumpkins seeds are another great food to support healthy sleep cycles, as their high magnesium relaxes the muscles and body.
13. Frequent Eating: When we eat too often, the insulin hormone stays very high in the body. This means that it is constantly having to remove sugar from your blood which forms belly fat. Many people graze through the day instead of eating wholesome meals, which never gives your digestive system a break. You can perform intermittent fasting daily to help fix this problem. Simply eat all of your calories in a 5-hour window during the day in 2 wholesome meals. There is no need to restrict calories, simply eat what you normally would but in a smaller window. This may be difficult at first as your blood sugars will take some time to adapt, but you will soon begin to notice belly fat loss and fewer cravings. As you can see, there are many different causes of belly fat, however, the most common cause is having too much insulin in the body. You can balance these hormones by eating the right foods and performing aerobic exercise daily. Intermittent fasting is also an excellent diet trick which helps to activate fat burning around the stomach, by healing insulin resistance.