Why is it so hard to lose belly fat?

Abdominal fat is more difficult to eliminate than other fats. Let’s see why and if it can really be fought.

As we age, both men and women begin to accumulate fat in the abdomen, this fat in addition to causing us psychological discomfort because we do not look well, it is also difficult to eliminate, which can lead to frustration. Accumulated abdominal fat seems impossible to lose despite nutritional and sports efforts. But… Why is the belly resistant to diets and exercise? Is there an effective way to fight this fat?

In this article we will talk about fat in general and the process by which it is eliminated, explaining the reasons why it is more difficult to eliminate fat from the abdominal area in particular, and how we can try to lose it in a healthy way.

    How does our body accumulate fat?

    The first thing to explain is that when we use the word fat we mean the fat present in our body, because in biochemistry it is used as a general term to refer to different types of lipids. More specifically, we use it to refer to acylglycerides. They are molecules composed of one, two or three fatty acids attached to a molecule of glycerin, forming monoglycerides, diglycerides and triglycerides respectively.

    There are cells in our body, adipocytes, which are responsible for storing fatty acids, forming adipose tissue. This process, by which we store energy, is part of metabolism. Our body breaks down what we eat into small parts for later use in rebuilding cells and tissues. Through this fragmentation you get energy for all your processes.

    Fat accumulated in adipocytes does not come directly from ingested fat, but excess energy. Our body also converts sugars into fatty acids, so even if we don’t eat fat, we can accumulate it. Fat gain is given by the energy intake of each food: fats provide nine calories per gram, i.e. double the intake of carbohydrates and proteins (i.e. four calories per gram), it is therefore important to moderate the consumption of fats, but do not avoid them because lipids are essential constituents of our cells.

      Functions of fats

      The primary function of adipose (fat) tissue is to provide energy during periods of fasting. When we go long hours without eating, adipose tissue, through lipolysis, releases fatty acids to provide energy to the rest of the body. It is thanks to the release of fatty acids that we lose weight when we are on a diet.

      Adipose tissue too It has a valuable protective function against the cold and maintains and protects the organs like the kidneys and the heart.

        What is abdominal fat?

        Fat can accumulate in different parts of the body and does not have the same characteristics. The layer of fat just below the skin is called subcutaneous fat and although it causes aesthetic problems for some, it is not dangerous to health.

        Visceral fat is located in the abdominal cavity and surrounds its internal organs (intestinal, liver, kidneys, etc.). It has a semi-liquid state and an excess is linked to the risk of suffering from different pathologies, often: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and abnormal cholesterol.

          Why do we accumulate belly fat?

          As we saw earlier, we need to know what type of abdominal fat we are talking about. It is necessary to try to distinguish it, usually a small belly, a waist with a perimeter of less than 89 centimeters (in women) and a normal body mass index, they do not indicate any health problem and it would be subcutaneous fat. However, only a medical examination can truly determine the type of fat we accumulate.

          Whatever its origin, several factors can promote fatty deposits, and the difficulty in fighting them. Whatever its origin, several factors are involved in its presence and the difficulty of getting rid of it.

          1. Hormonal Imbalance

          Hormones have been reported by different specialists as the main culprits of abdominal fat.

          For men, their testosterone levels decline over the years. Testosterone, in addition to increasing metabolism by maintaining muscle mass and increasing energy, also slows the expansion of fat cells. Therefore, it is easier over the years to gain volume in the abdomen area.

          Young women, for reasons related to motherhood, accumulate fat in the hips and thighs. But with the advent of menopause and premenopause, they stop releasing eggs, and the body produces fewer female hormones. Changes in estrogen levels are responsible for fat redistribution. However, this redistribution aims to protect the loss of bone density. Although for some it is a problem, it is nature’s way of protecting us.

          Flaccidity is characteristic of aging by decreasing the production of various skin proteins, such as collagen and elastin. Flaccidity can lead to abdominal overweight.

            2. Genetic origin

            Excessive insulin secretion could also cause metabolic imbalance and promote fat accumulation in the abdomen. Insulin manages blood sugar and inhibits the process of lipolysis, preventing the release of fatty acids. People with a family history of diabetes are more likely to gain fat.

            3. Diet

            A high-calorie diet, high in fat and processed foods (cookies, sugary drinks, etc.) it can increase the work of the liver and directly affect the increase in abdominal fatin addition to general excess weight.

            Alcohol is also associated with the risk of bulking in the abdomen. In fact, due to its caloric density, one glass contains approximately 240 calories, or more than 10% of the daily needs of an average adult.

              4. Stress

              Cortisol is known as the wake-up hormone, but also as the stress hormones. According to several studies, this hormone causes fat to accumulate in the abdomen instead of spreading to other parts of the body.

                How to lose abdominal fat?

                To lose fat, the most important thing is to have a balanced diet. It’s not just about eating vegetables and low-calorie foods to lose weight, it’s about matching your intake to spending. Moreover, it is more interesting to reduce the quantities than to restrict foods such as carbohydrates, because these provide energy, and without energy we move less and therefore we spend less.

                As for the abs, fat loss cannot be achieved locally. But maintaining a balanced diet and working the core area can help you get a strong stomach.

                Visceral fat loss responds to the same strategies as subcutaneous fat.

                1. Healthy food

                It increases the amount of products with a low calorie density, which means that they provide few calories per volume. Vegetables, fruits and cereals can be your best allies. Accompanying your meals with a salad or a portion of vegetables will increase your feeling of satiety during the day and will make you eat less at each meal. But don’t just eat a salad. Proteins and carbohydrates are also essential for the functioning of your body.

                2. Avoid sugary drinks

                Sugary drinks are one of the easiest high-calorie foods to avoid. they can be easily replaced with zero water or drinks.

                3. Measure portions

                It is important to control what we eat, but also the quantities.

                4. Do physical activity

                Moderate activity of at least half an hour a day, 5 days a week is recommended.

                Studies have shown that Walking 10,000 or 15,000 steps a day promotes fat loss, but above all they prevent recovery after considerable weight loss. Get a step counter e Including this habit in your daily life can be a very effective strategy for getting healthy and fighting a sedentary lifestyle.

                However, a recent study by Australian researchers has shown one of the reasons behind the accumulation of abdominal fat apart from the genetic and age-related reasons mentioned above.

                Abdominal fat becomes resistant to the release of fatty acids when practicing intermittent fastingthat is, subjecting our body to long periods without food intake. According to this study, it seems that the periods of restriction activate a signaling pathway for this fat to become resistant. It would be like a message from the fat body saying “stay here, we’ll need you later”.

                Therefore, the strategy of fasting, although it may have other benefits, does not seem the most appropriate if you want to lose that annoying belly.

                Bibliographic references

                • Harney, DJ (2021). Proteomic analysis of fat deposits after intermittent fasting reveals mechanisms of visceral fat preservation. Cell reports, 34 (9): 2.

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