Visceral abdominal fat is the first to show up and the last to go. It’s also correlated with heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Science shows that large amounts of visceral fat can even decrease your performance at work, at home, and in the gym.
Crazier still, most people who look thin still deal with visceral fat. 80% of healthy people who volunteered to donate a part of their liver were turned down due to having fatty liver disease. (a symptom of belly fat when it’s grown to the point of clogging your organs)
In this article, we’ll cover
- How to know what’s causing YOUR belly fat to stick around.(HINT: Take the quiz)
- The Main Causes of Visceral Belly Fat
- Which environmental factors could be putting you at risk
There are many possible reasons WHY the fat wont go.
Take this Free Belly Fat Hormone Assessment to find out what’s causing YOU to suffer from elevated visceral fat levels.
Or read on and take a good guess.
There are a lot of reasons why you might be storing excess belly fat, or why it just wont seem to budge, no matter what diet you try, or how much cardio you do.
Here are 11 of the most common belly fat culprits:
Sugar/Processed Foods and Drinks
Sugar can be in ANYTHING. Obvious culprits are waistline-disasters like cakes, muffins, soda, fruit juice, and that time you just HAD to have a Cinnabon at the airport.
Less obvious (but equally bad for the waistline) can come in the forms of sauces (check your ketchup), breads, or your daily coffee drink.
Since the 1970’s when the government decided that all fat was bad and imposed laws on food manufacturers to limit the amount in the products we consume – companies have been adding additional sugar to increase the shelf life of their foods and to make us crave them even more.
Plus most processed carbohydrates are just one chemical reaction from being converted to sugar in your system, so it’s important to change your mentality around carbs like that.
White bread = sugar
Bagel = sugar
Granola = sugar
Tortilla = sugar
Ditch the processed food and your sugar consumption will decrease dramatically.
Alcohol is a poison that when ingested will halt your bodies natural detoxification and fat burning processes. However, alcohol WILL make you a better dancer, something kale can never claim.
The real problem with alcohol is when it’s consumed in conjunction with other foods and mixers that have a lot of calories. So that beer you’re having with nachos, the wine with dinner, or the 6 Long Island Ice Teas (hey, no judgement) start to stack up.
While your body is filtering out the poison you just pounded so that you’d have the confidence to go talk to the 10 at the bar, your body takes all those other calories including that late night burrito, and throws that right at your midsection until it *ahem* gets around too it.
All this doesn’t even take into account that calories stored while drinking are shown to go to visceral fat around the organs, which leads to a “distended” abdomen, which many people simply know as a “beer belly”. Not good.
Beer bellies show up a little different from normal belly fat – they’re generally more dense, and aren’t “squishy” when you press on them. That’s due to the fact that a lot of the fat is below the muscle because it’s “visceral”. Which means that most of it is around the organs, which makes it the most dangerous type of fat.
Trans fats are the worst type of fat to put into your body. They’re generally used in packaged goods to make extend the shelf life of processed foods that you shouldn’t be eating anyways.
Like vegetable oils, these cause inflammation, heart disease, atherosclerosis, and a host of other maladies with long-ass names. According to several studies trans fats are also closely linked to visceral stomach fat, the most dangerous kind, and the most difficult to get rid of.
Good news is that you can ditch these easily by cutting out processed foods from your diet and making most of your food at home.
As technology advances, we get tons of cool new stuff like iPhone, self driving cars, and toasters that burn your pet’s face into your bread of choice. Unfortunately all this tech makes us a much more inactive society, because we are no longer foraging for berries and grubs, and instead have job titles like “Social Media Liaison” and “Instagram Influencer”.
Most of our time is spent sitting – at a desk, on the couch, between sets of biceps curls…not good for our fat stores.
Our bodies are spectacular and very smart, but since most of this technology has popped up in the last hundred years or so, we haven’t had time to adapt to this new normal. So when we crush a burger, fries, and a milkshake, our body thinks that we’ve been met with a windfall of good woolly mammoth meat and stores it, because let’s face it – Woolly Mammoths are hard to come by.
Increase your movement outside of formal exercise by parking farther away from the store, taking a walk every night, or adding in 5 minutes of movement in the morning (also a great policy for feeling amazing all day)
Too Many Calories/Carbohydrates
At it’s core, losing weight is simply an equation. Calories consumed must be less than calories burned. BUT carbohydrates are the easiest type of calories to consume, and they provide us with energy to do the activities for our day. If we’re not spending a ton of energy than all those carbs and calories are going to be stored as fat.
Start thinking of carbohydrates as simply “fuel” for your activities. Is your day low on activities? Then it should be lower in carbs. Simple, but not easy.
This re-framing can be incredibly helpful in flipping the switch from “I can’t eat these potatoes ’cause I’m on a diet” to “I don’t need extra potatoes today because its a low activity day”
If you’re eating a lot out of plastic Tupperware, drinking out of plastic water-bottles, or buying things that come in plastic containers, you could be unknowingly sabotaging your results.
This is especially true when you’re re-heating food in plastic, or drinking out of a water bottle that’s spent the majority of the summer sitting in your hot car. Plastic is filled with parbens that can leak into your food and water when warmed. This can be a death sentence for healthy hormones, as well as being a precursor to worse stuff like auto-immune diseases and even cancer.
Additionally, this can increase estrogen in men causing decreased sex drive, lower energy, and gynocomastia (the dreaded “man-boobs”). All bad.
Eliminate this as much as possible by switching to glass containers for leftovers (Pyrex is my go-to) metal water bottles like Hydro Flasks, and stop buying microwavable meals. That’s not good for you on several levels.
Poor Gut Health
The “gut” is responsible for digesting food, separating nutrients from waste, the majority of your immune system, and making whale noises when you’re in a quiet room. It’s filled with healthy bacteria that keeps you healthy and aids in the the breakdown of food.
But after years of stuffing our bellies full of pizza, hot dogs, and mountain dew like an unsupervised 12 year old at a Sizzler it shouldn’t be a surprise that sometimes old faithful isn’t working at 100% capacity.
If you’re not digesting your food correctly, even when you do start to eat healthier and make changes you might not see a difference because your gut is still reeling from the last several years of ultimate nachos and fireball shots.
You might need to think about adding a pro-biotic supplement to help replace the gut bacteria that has gone on strike against your poor eating choices. In certain extreme cases this can even require a “fecal transplant”.
No I’m not kidding, nor will I be taking any more questions about that particular subject. Go ask your mom.
High Stress and Cortisol
As our lives get cushier, surprisingly enough most people report that their stress also increases! This just goes to show that hard is hard, no matter if you’re dealing with family drama, or having a difficult time building a log cabin to protect you from the bears.
Stress is all around us all the time, but many of us don’t have a good outlet for the stress in our lives, choosing instead to internalize it and “deal with it later”.
This leads to an increase in the hormone ‘Cortisol’, which by itself is important and natural, but when it gets out of control that’s when our weight starts to spiral, and you feel like “nothing you’re doing is working”.
Habitual high stress can be a killer, both of your waistline and of your body. High cortisol can actually cause hunger pangs when you’re not actually hungry, and it causes you to not hear the signals your body gives when it’s full. This signal is caused by the hormone ‘Leptin’ which gets muted in the face of too much Cortisol.
Then begins the vicious cycle of cravings, binge eating, not feeling full, and more stress from the increased weight.
Not to mention that high cortisol has been scientifically proven to lead to MORE weight gain in the belly than anywhere else.
The fix here is a full lifestyle reboot – but you can start with something as simple as daily gratitude. Simply remind yourself of all the awesome things in your life, and how we literally don’t want for anything in our lives. Pick three things per day you’re grateful for. Do this exercise for the next 6 months.
Mom and Dad
Finally! We get to blame someone else!
Genetics has a big roll in how our bodies look, including where we store our fat. Most of the time, our body fat goes exactly where we don’t want it, and it’s literally all your parent’s fault.
Often genes are linked to WHERE we start storing fat if we gain a little weight. I’ve also seen evidence that this genetic predisposition makes this spot the first place that gains, and the last place that we lose fat on a diet or training program.
I have found that my genetics seem to improve, the more time I spend in the gym…
Not Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is imperative for good health. People who sleep only five hours per night are on average going to be 30lbs heavier than People who sleep seven plus hours per night. This is a HUGE difference.
Not only that, but the quality of sleep matters too. Men with sleep apnea are much more likely to have additional weight around the waist than those without a sleep disorder.
Make sure you’re averaging at least seven hours of sleep per night to get the most out of your fat loss. Sometimes this can be the key piece that people miss. I’ve seen many times where clients have no change for weeks on the scale, but then start seeing big changes AS SOON as they begin sleeping more.
Not Enough Water
Water (like sleep) is an important aspect of fat loss. Because we eliminate fat by breaking it down and breathing it out, we need to make sure we’re getting enough water to stay hydrated to transport the maximum amount of fat out of our bodies.
Additionally, a decrease in your level of hydration can sap strength and energy. Plus water is free, so there’s NO excuse to not get and stay hydrated, especially if you’re training, taking supplements, or changing your diet with the intent of losing fat.
Start your day off right by taking in 24oz of water first thing to re-hydrate yourself after a full night of breathing out warm moist air.
There are a ton of lifestyle issues that can create a ripe environment for gaining the spare tire, the pudge, and the beer belly.
You don’t need to understand ALL of the reasons someone can gain bodyfat, but you should take the time to figure out what’s causing yours. Often just a simple lifestyle or diet tweak can make a huge difference, it just comes down to knowing WHAT you need to do.
If you’re looking for more info on where your belly fat is coming from or why it’s so tough to get rid of, take the Free Belly Fat Hormone Assessment to find out what’s causing YOU to suffer from elevated visceral fat levels.
The Top 11 Reasons that People Hold Belly Fat Are:
- Trans Fats
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Too Many Calories
- Poor Gut Health
- High Stress/Cortisol
- Not Enough Sleep
What’s causing yours? What’s one change you can eliminate from this list today to start moving toward your goals?