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The dreaded belly bulge

WOMAN'S INSTINCT
By | November 19th 2011

Every woman desires a pretty flat stomach. But at a certain age the ‘Halle Berry waistline’ disappears and ushers in that undesirable paunch. So what is the reason behind this? ALLAN OLINGO explores the topic

Men can get away with a potbelly because it is considered a sign of prosperity. Never mind it may be a sign of poor health. But a woman who spots a pot belly is seen as unfit and sometimes undesirable. That is why women go to great lengths to get rid of this abdomen fat. So what causes this accumulation of fat. Women of child rearing age tend to store fat on their hips, buttocks and breasts.

As sex hormones decline with age, a woman’s body fat distribution changes and she stores more fat around the belly.

In an interview with the Guardian, Jean-Pierre Despres, Chairman of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Laval University in Quebec, Canada pointed out that though many people believe that it stems from improper eating or lack of exercise, there can also be other reasons as illustrated below:

Baby fat

Many women get baby fat after giving birth. This is as a result of the weight gain, which occurs during pregnancy and then persists after birth. For most breast feeding mothers, losing weight is a challenge because they need to feed on certain foods to enhance milk production. Such foods have high calories and thus create a potbelly.

Menopause

Menopause comes with many dreadful changes like hot flashes and dipping libido. Of these, the one dreaded most is the weight gain.

This is frustrating because the weight gain is specifically around the belly. This weight comes even if you try to eat and exercise right.

Genetics

If most women in your family have a pear shape chances are you will have it also. An apple shape is where one is heavier around the middle area and smaller at the bottom. I you have such genes, when you add weight, it is stored and accumulates around your belly.

If you have a pear shape when you add weight, more fat accumulates in lower parts.

Stress

When the body is under stress it realises a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol in turn causes the liver to make excess sugar that your body doesn’t need.

As a result, you feel hungrier and eat more that the body actually requires.

This is why when you are stressed you have the urge to munch fatty foods like fries as opposed to veggies. A lot of those calories go straight to your tummy.

Slow Metabolism

A slow body metabolism may result in excess storage of fat around the stomach.

With the sedentary lifestyle that most of us embrace, our metabolism tends to slow down. This means that calories are not burnt as fast and the result is a potbelly.

Picture this scenario: You drive to work every morning, when you reach there instead of taking the stairs you use the lift and then you sit on your computer the whole day as you much snacks.

This lifestyle is what contributes to a potbelly.

Poor posture

According to fitness experts, one of the main causes of potbelly is bad posture.

Bob Otieno, a fitness coach in Nairobi agrees saying posture determines how one’s stomach looks like.

"If you have poor posture, it can give you a pot belly. When you stand in the mirror hunched over and look at your abdominal and then stand erect, the difference will show," says Bob.

It is important to keep a right posture all the time whether you are walking or sitting down.

Binging late at night

Ideally, one should take their dinner as early as seven o’clock. If you feel hungry again, it is advisable to take small portions of healthy snacks. But some women are notorious for eating high calorie foods late at night then head to bed. This leads to a pot belly.

Lucy Waimuru, a nutritionist says that it is important to give food a chance to fully digest before going to bed.

Says Waimuru: "To control the stomach fat, one should avoid eating within three hours of their bedtime. If you have to eat late at night, eat a fruit or healthy snack."

So what is the remedy for potbelly?

Much as the potbelly is not a disease, it can be considered as a precursor to diseases. 0Difficulty in breathing on slight exertion, lethargy and laziness are some of the symptoms.

Once the size of belly increases one is at the risk of diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure. A series of complications ensue. Here is how to manage it:

Diet

Instead of cooking with the solid fat it is advisable to use olive and sesame oil which have the ability to burn down belly fat.

Fruits, especially citrus, are also great in burning the belly fat as they are naturally low in calories and fat and will help flush out toxins from the body.

Veggies are also good as they help keep off the excess fat in the belly.

Lean proteins help to strengthen the abdomen muscles in turn helping burn down fat and calories easier and more effectively.

One should avoid eating fatty meats as they have more calories.

STRESS EATING

Some women tend to eat excessively when stressed.

"Such women indulge in high calorie foods like chocolates to calm down," says Lucy.

When stressed out one should employ methods other than overeating to calm down.

EXERCISE

The quickest way to lose belly fat is to combine exercise with a good diet.

Weight training is an excellent way to burn off tummy fat and boost body metabolism.

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