Have you noticed lately that more and more people seem to be gaining weight around the belly? In the early 1980’s scientific research and new weight loss plans proclaimed “Fats are bad for you!” and a dietary shift began to the low-fat diets. Now for about 30 years people have been avoiding fats but have been filling up on carbohydrates. Low-fat snacks are usually high in carbohydrates and loaded with sugar. When you eat sugar-loaded carbohydrates you are never satiated and have continuous craving for sweets or more carbohydrates.
Even the pants for both men and women for many years now are cut lower in the waist region. So if you gain weight in the abdomen you can still wear your pant but hang over the top—the so-called muffin top.
Excessive eating of the wrong kind of carbohydrates is one of the major causes of weight gain in the belly region. Stress is a contributing factor too.
How does eating too many carbohydrates make belly fat?
In a healthy person when you eat carbohydrates they break down into glucose and the glucose is transported into the cells with insulin. Your body releases just the right amount of insulin to process the glucose in your blood stream. Then the insulin levels drop and you burn fat until you eat again.
If you constantly overload your body with a high carbohydrate diet of foods such as potatoes, corn chips, pasta, white flour breads, breakfast cereals, crackers, energy bars, etc., your body begins to release more insulin than the cells can absorb. This excess insulin drives your blood sugar to below normal causing a state of hypoglycemia and you feel fatigued with poor concentration, memory loss and irritability. So, to feel better you eat more carbohydrates to bring up your blood sugar. As you fill up on carbohydrates you burn sugar for energy and not fat. Then the belly fat starts to accumulate.
Belly fat is not your only problem; this excess insulin in the blood stream can also cause insulin resistance leading to hormonal imbalances, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
How does stress play a role in weight gain in the abdomen?
According to researchers, belly fat can result both directly and indirectly from stress. When you are stressed, you often feel hungry and tend to eat more which can lead to weight gain. Also under stress, cortisol, the stress hormone is released. The abdomen has a greater blood supply and has more receptors for cortisol than other areas of the body. Excess cortisol stimulates the fat storage around the belly. Gaining belly fat may be the body’s coping mechanism for turning off the stress response.
What can we do to get rid of that belly fat?
- Avoid simple carbohydrates, especially the white ones (white bread, potatoes, rice, pasta).
- Eat more complex carbohydrates such as vegetables.
- Never eat carbohydrates alone. Try to add some protein to your carbohydrates (crackers with almond butter).
- Make exercise a daily habit.
- Ask Dr. Rakela or your acupuncturist about the supplements Garcinia Cambogia and chromium picolinate to reduce carbohydrate cravings.
- Ask Dr. Rakela or your acupuncturist about an acupuncture weight loss plan.
- Practice yoga and meditation to reduce your stress.
Not all fats are bad. Try to eat more MUFA’s, no not muffins. MUFA is monounsaturated fatty acids. These fats are good for you and make you feel full and cut your craving for sugar and carbohydrates. They are olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocados and dark chocolate.
In one scientific study it was found that belly fat diminished in people who were fed foods that were high in MUFA’s and a Mediterranean diet. This diet is based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, MUFA’s, olive oil, fish and red wine.
by Dr. Nancy Rakela