10 Factors That Make You More Likely to Store Belly Fat

10 Factors That Make You More Likely to Store Belly Fat

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A little bit of belly fat isn’t such a bad thing. It helps to protect your vital organs, after all!

It’s a fine balancing act though as storing too much belly fat around your abdomen can be dangerous and has been linked to some pretty nasty health problems. We’re talking heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, to name just a few of the things that it may set the scene for.

Some of the culprits are fairly obvious, especially if you’re eating a lot of processed foods and not doing much exercise. There can be some surprising reasons behind belly fat though and these can come into play even if you think you’re living a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the factors that can make you more likely to store fat in your abdominal area.

You’re Eating Too Much Sugar and Trans Fats

If you eat a diet that contains a lot of processed sugar, you’ll probably be struggling to shift belly fat. According to studies, there is a definite link between the two. This can be largely to do with the fructose content in processed sugars.

Trans fats are another big no-no if you want to avoid belly fat. These are pretty much the worst type of fat you can eat as they promote inflammation and according to studies on animals, they also encourage more fat to be stored on and around your abdomen.

Your Alcohol Intake

You’ve no doubt heard of a “beer belly” and this is something that can affect women too. Depending on how much you drink, it could be the culprit for stubborn belly fat. Some studies have shown that alcohol can make it harder to burn fat and makes it more likely that the extra calories it brings to the party are stored on and around the abdomen. 

You’re On a Low Protein Diet

If you want to stay trim, it’s really important to get enough protein in your diet. Protein helps you to feel more sated and can mean that you consume fewer calories. Low protein diets are also more likely to result in belly fat, people who eat a lot of protein tend to have very little in the way of belly fat.

You Don’t Eat Enough Fibre

If your diet is low in fibre, you can be more likely to store belly fat. Getting plenty of soluble fibre reduces the chances of this. In one particular study that involved over 1,100 men and women, every extra 10g of soluble fibre led to a 32% decrease in how much belly fat was stored. This has a lot to do with the fact that low fibre increases your appetite and belly fat.

You’re Scared of Eating Fat

Fat has had a bad rep and this can put you off eating it. While it’s true that you don’t need a lot of the unhealthier fats, good fats can help you to lose weight and keep belly fat to a minimum.

Monounsaturated fats are one of the good fats and are important for satiety. They’ll help you to feel fuller for longer so you’re less likely to make unhealthy food choices that increase your potential for storing belly fat.

You Have Too Much “Bad” Bacteria in Your Gut

An imbalance of gut bacteria can have an effect on your weight and how much fat you store on your abdomen. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to have a type of bacteria that can mean that more calories are absorbed from your food.

You’re Stressed

Under a lot of stress? It could be one of the reasons why you’re storing belly fat. The stress hormone, cortisol, can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Cortisol often encourages extra calories to be stored as abdominal fat.

You Don’t Sleep Well

If you spend a lot of time tossing and turning in the average night, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll store belly fat. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain in general, it also predisposes you to abdominal weight gain in particular.

You Don’t Get Enough Magnesium

Getting enough magnesium in your diet can lower your blood sugar and insulin levels. That’s not too surprising when you consider that this mighty mineral is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in your body! Some of these reactions have an effect on your body’s ability to burn fat so it can have an indirect impact on your weight.

Your Exercise Isn’t Intense Enough

Not all exercise is equal when it comes to busting belly fat and keeping it off, especially if your workouts aren’t intense enough. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a good option but anything that involves reasonably intense exercise several times per week should help.

As a nutrition coach, I have helped lots of people implement a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle to help shed fat, increase energy and improve their overall well-being. If you have tried to go it alone and haven’t seen the results you had hoped for then maybe I could help you dig a little bit deeper. I can help get to the root cause of the problem while keeping you focused and motivated. When making changes to your diet it’s important that you find a nutrition plan that works for you. I am familiar with many dietary theories so I am best placed to help you find a solution to heal your body.

Like everything in life, it helps to be accountable to someone. So, when the going gets tough, my clients use me to guide and motivate them to push through difficult times. It is important to realise that big changes won’t happen overnight, but investing in your health and well-being now can save you a lot of health issues and complications in the future.

If you are really struggling during this time to manage your weight I have two personalised plans available at 30% off during our lockdown. This offer is available on my 8 Week Weight Loss Plan and my 12 Week Weight Loss Plan. Use voucher code WEIGHTLOSS30.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Christy xx

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

Is Not Enough Sleep Making You Fat?

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Sleep is one of the best things you can do from a self-care perspective but it’s also one of the areas that are most likely to be neglected. 

The recommended amount of shut-eye is eight hours a night (preferably more!) but lots of us are falling far short of this and it’s having a massive impact on almost every aspect of wellbeing, from health to weight. You can live healthily in every other area of your life but unfortunately, it’s probably not going to do much to counteract the damaging effects of poor sleep habits.

Here’s a look at why getting enough sleep is so crucial for your health and wellbeing, and why diet alone can’t undo the effects of not sleeping well.

Sleep Duration Versus Sleep Quality

We’re always being told how many hours we should be sleeping each night but is it definitely enough even if we can manage to achieve it?

Sleep quality refers to how well we sleep and is a completely different prospect to how long we sleep.  It’s pretty easy to tell how long you sleep but the quality of it is a bit harder to determine.

Poor sleep quality means that you’re not sleeping in line with your circadian rhythm or going through all of the important sleep phases (particularly with REM sleep).

Some of the signs that your sleep quality isn’t as good as it could include:

  • Waking up during the night
  • Not waking up naturally e.g. you have to be abruptly awoken by your alarm clock most mornings

Sleep and Health

What exactly does your body experience when you don’t get enough sleep? Pretty much everything is affected but here are some of the more serious effects that poor sleep patterns can have on your health:

  • Lower immunity. If you seem to get every cough and cold going, your sleep habits may be to blame. In one study, researchers deliberately exposed people to the common cold virus to see how likely they were to go onto develop a cold. Participants who had been sleeping for less than 7 hours per night had lower immunity and were almost 3 times more likely to be impacted. Even a small sleep debt has been linked to lower immunity.
  • Higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have looked at the link between lack of sleep and developing heart disease and stroke and it’s a scary connection. Getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night means a higher chance of developing Coronary Heart Disease or having a stroke – and dying from it.
  • Higher risk of diabetes. A sleep debt can pave the way for developing Type 2 diabetes.  In this study, just a week of not sleeping well-reduced insulin sensitivity and raised concerns about whether consistently sleeping badly might open the door to developing health issues linked to insulin resistance.
  • Increased inflammation. Inflammation is now linked to lots of different health problems and can be increased by sleep loss.

Sleep and Cognition

You’ve no doubt heard that eating the right foods can boost your brain health but it’s not just diet can affect your memory and concentration.

Sleep is an important factor too, and lack of sleep has been shown to impair them. In fact, one study has suggested that even moderate sleep issues can be as damaging as alcohol in affecting performance!

The deeper stages of sleep are particularly vital when it comes to clear thinking, focus, memory and learning. This is when your brain does a lot of its mental ‘sorting’, such as filtering out information that isn’t really needed right now. It doesn’t sound a lot but it all adds up to better cognition and performance.

Sleep and Weight Gain

If you don’t sleep well, it can be a lot harder to maintain a healthy weight. The main problem? It sends your metabolism a little bit crazy and can ruin your good intentions for eating well.

Lack of sleep has a big effect on hormones that are linked to appetite – namely leptin and ghrelin. Leptin helps to keep your appetite in check while ghrelin does the opposite.

Ideally, you want to have more leptin and less ghrelin but not getting enough sleep throws this balance out and effectively switches them around. This means you’re a lot more likely to overeat, even when you’re technically full. And you’ll find it harder to shift stubborn fat on your stomach, as sleep deprivation encourages fat to build up in this area in particular.

Improving Your Sleep Quality

  1. Some of the things you can do to try to get better quality sleep each night include: Making your room as dark as possible to support your circadian rhythm. Pitch black (or as close to it as you can get) is best.
  2. Setting a bedtime routine that involves going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at a specific time each morning.
  3. Switching off electronic devices at least an hour before bed (even your phone!) to reduce the amount of ‘blue light’ you’re exposed to just before bedtime. This ‘blue light’ means your body finds it harder to produce enough of the sleep hormone, melatonin, to help you sleep well.

If you haven’t been seeing sleep as a key part of your wellness routine, it’s definitely time to change that!

Wishing you health and happiness,

Christy x