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Six reasons why your pot belly is not ‘miraculously’ disappearing

 Exercise more [Photo: Courtesy]

Belly fat, commonly known as potbelly, occurs when excess fat accumulation in the abdomen builds up to cause the “pot belly” effect. This can take a short period but getting rid of it can take years.

Here are some reasons why your belly fat isn’t disappearing as miraculously as it appeared

Your body has developed leptin resistance

 Regular consumption of foods and drinks high in sugar like highly processed foods will result in excess weight gain and fat accumulation. Sugars found in such foods and drinks are metabolised faster than other sugars, facilitating accumulation of fat in the stomach. After one consumes a drink or food high in sugar, the sugar is metabolised and stored as fat.

These fat cells release a surge in leptin, the hormone that signals satiety in the body, which can result in leptin resistance. If one is leptin resistant, their brain can’t decode the message of satiety being conveyed hence they are constantly hungry.

2. You are messing with your circadian rhythm

Late night eating can interfere with the circadian rhythm, the body’s biological clock that follows a 24-hour cycle responding primarily to light and darkness. At night when the body reads you should be resting and not eating, insulin production is lower and the body cells may become resistant to this hormone. Regular late night eating can cause high levels of sugar in the blood, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes as well as a pot belly. Energy requirement when the body is resting is little hence most of the calories consumed just before going to bed end up stored as fat.

3. Your body is storing loads of fat

One of the main reasons fat belly develops is energy imbalance caused by excess food intake. The body stores excess food as fat for future use, and with continued over eating, the fat stores expand resulting in weight gain and an expanded stomach. To cut down on the calories, eat small frequent meals throughout the day instead of three big ones, go slow on the carbs and up the vegetable intake.

4. You are drinking a tad too much

Alcohol contains many calories that have no nutritional value. A 500ml bottle of beer can have up to 170 calories, a shot of whisky, vodka or rum contains approximately 64 calories. A person drinking 10 bottles of beer would end up consuming 1700 extra calories. These extra calories are deposited in the belly especially for the men. Alcohol also stimulates excess food intake by altering the body’s perception of hunger and satiety.

5. You are not sleeping enough

The duration one sleeps can greatly influence the hormones that regulate appetite. Inadequate sleep can cause a decrease in the production of hormone leptin, which signals satiety to the rain and consequently suppress hunger. Inadequate sleep also causes an elevation of hormone ghrelin which stimulates hunger. This leads to over eating during the day and subsequent fat accumulation. Insufficient sleep also increases the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, which triggers sugar cravings. Fatigue caused by deficient sleep leads to less physical activity which promotes accumulation of belly fat.

6. You aren’t exercising enough

Physical inactivity increases one’s risk for abdominal fat accumulation but consistent physical activity can help get rid of this excess fat. More often than not, people consume more food than the body requires. Unavoidably, the excess calories are stored as fat especially in the thighs, upper arms and abdominal area if one does not exercise.

Best grains to include in your diet if...

You have blood sugar problems

It’s important to supply the body with the key nutrients needed for managing blood sugar levels.

Whole-grains are a good source of magnesium, a mineral needed for the release of insulin, the hormone which manages levels of glucose - the sugar we use for energy. Oats, rye and barley are all good options, as well as brown rice and buckwheat. Alternatively, opt for sorghum, not only does it supply magnesium but it contributes protective compounds which help prevent the damage that leads to some of the health problems associated with poor blood sugar control. sorghum flour can be substituted for wheat flour in bread and bakes and is used in many gluten-free products.

You’re watching your weight

The popularity of high protein diets has meant many slimmers shy away from grains because of their carb content. However, some grains, such as rye, don’t cause the insulin rise associated with wheat, making it easier to avoid the appetite swings and dips that lead to snacking and raving. Studies also suggest that rye keeps you fuller for longer, so swap to rye bread at breakfast or lunch to help fend off those snack attacks between meals. Other useful grains for controlling your appetite and minimising blood sugar swings include oats and brown rice. Try replacing your mid-morning biscuits with oat cakes and accompany lunch with a portion

of brown rice instead of bread or pasta.

You’ve got raised cholesterol

If your cholesterol levels are high, opt for barley or oats. They contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans which help lower cholesterol in the blood, especially the bad cholesterol known as low density lipoprotein (lDl). Buckwheat is another heart-healthy option, because it contains rutin, a compound that protects against the effects of high cholesterol. It’s rich in magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and helps keep blood flowing.

You’re vegetarian

Getting enough protein is important if you avoid meat and fish. Quinoa, a grain-like seed, has higher protein content than most other grains, and contains all the essential amino acids you need making it equivalent to milk or soya. That’s not all, quinoa is a good source of iron and calcium - so it’s ideal for young adults and children who choose to follow a vegetarian diet. Other grains to include are wild rice which is richer in protein than brown rice and

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