A little bit of fat in your middle is healthy: it protects your stomach, intestines and other organs. However, too much fat is never healthy. In fact, extra fat cells deep in your abdomen (aka visceral fat) generate adipose hormones and adipokines—chemical bad guys that travel to your blood vessels and organs, where they cause inflammation that can contribute to problems like heart disease and diabetes. However, if you've been stuck in a rut with your pudge - one of these 10 reasons may just be why:
You're On A Low Fat Diet
To shed tummy fat, it's good to eat good fat—specifically monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). When researchers in one study asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie, high-MUFA diet, they lost a third of their belly fat in just a month. Have a serving of MUFAs—like a handful of nuts, a tablespoon of olive oil, or a quarter of an avocado—with every meal and snack - is an excellent option.
You've Been Depressed
Women with depressive symptoms were far more likely to have extra belly fat, found a recent study. What's the answer? Exercise! It improves levels of brain chemicals that regulate metabolism of fat, as well as your mood. This also enhances your motivation to do other things that help ward off depression, like seeing friends. But if you're so down and out that you don't want to do things you enjoy, it's time to seek the help of a therapist.
Your Food Comes From a Box
Simple carbs (like chips) and added sugar (in items like sweetened drinks) cause your blood sugar to spike, which triggers a flood of insulin—a hormone that encourages your liver to store fat in your middle. Instead of focusing on cutting out junk, center your efforts around adding lots of veggies to your meals. This will fill you up and reduce snack hunger. For solid, healthy meal ideas, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
You Lack Magnesium
This miracle mineral regulates more than 300 functions in the body. No surprise, then, that a 2013 study found that people who consumed more of it had lower blood sugar and insulin levels. At least twice a day, reach for magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, bananas and soybeans.
You're Hooked On Diet Soda
A study in Obesity
found that diet soda drinkers were more likely to have a high percentage of fat in their bellies. The researchers think that diet drinkers may overestimate the calories they're "saving," and then overeat. If you're not ready to kick your habit, the researchers suggest reducing the number of food calories in your diet.
You Love Red Meat
Swedish researchers gave one group of adults 750 extra daily calories, mainly from saturated fat and another group the same amount of calories but mostly from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for seven weeks, the saturated fat group accumulated two times as much visceral fat. Dine on fatty fish like salmon or trout once a week to get a good dose of PUFAs. The rest of the time, reduce your intake of red meat and opt instead for protein low in saturated fat, such as legumes and chicken.
You Love Beer
According to a 2013 study, beer may indeed be linked with abdominal obesity. And though beer appears to have the greatest impact, wine won't save you from a spare tire: One study found that the amount of alcohol of any type that women drank contributed to weight gain. Stick with seven or fewer alcoholic beverages a week.
You Haven't Done Yoga
Menopause-related hormonal changes make it harder to shed stomach fat—but vigorous yoga can help offset the effects. A 2012 study found that postmenopausal women who did an hour-long yoga session three times a week for 16 weeks lost more than 1/2 inch around their waists.
Your Meals Lack Colour
Brightly coloured fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamin C, which reduces cortisol. Not to mention, a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition
showed that people who ate more of the nutrients in red, orange and yellow produce had smaller waists as a result.