Healthy Byte: The Unicorn for Women – Flat Belly

 

Image result for skinny fat pooch women

Originally Posted HERE

The idea that for a woman to be beautiful and healthy she must have a flat stomach has infiltrated mainstream society. Not only is this far from the truth – women are beautiful regardless of stomach size – but it is also a rarity to have a perfectly flat stomach.

“This belief is setting women up for failure because a woman’s stomach isn’t meant to be flat,” Ashley Wood, RN, BSN, contributor at Demystifying Your Health, told Grateful, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Over and over again, I see friends and strangers killing themselves to suck any bit of bulge from their stomach, feeling inadequate any time they see a stomach roll. For years, I felt the same way, terrified to put on a bathing suit, feeling exposed and ugly, desperate to fit the standards society had told me I needed to meet.

It feels like every day I see another article that perpetuates this narrative, promising a certain food or exercise move will finally allow me to achieve this mystical flat stomach. It suggests that any problems in life would be solved if I could simply accomplish that goal. Well, I can’t, and that’s actually OK. In fact, it’s great! Letting go of a goal you can’t achieve and allowing yourself to focus on those you can gives you back control of your life.

This may be hard to believe after what feels like a lifetime of hearing that a flat stomach is gold. So, as with any myth, the best way to tackle it is with facts. Here’s why some women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.

WOMEN HAVE EXTRA PADDING TO PROTECT VITAL ORGANS

There is a very big reason why some women cannot achieve a flat stomach, and it is called reproductive organs.

“The design of a woman’s anatomy is different than men,” Wood says. “In addition to having room for digestive organs, like your stomach, liver and intestines, it has to have space for your reproductive organs and needs extra padding to protect all of these vital organs. This process of naturally storing fat cells in the stomach area begins during adolescence and young adulthood in preparation for childbearing later in life.”

Yes, right when we enter adolescence and start being told exactly what our body should look like is when it starts to take on a mind of its own.

Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat
Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat

Men and women also lose fat in different ways.

“When men lose weight, they tend to lose their visceral fat, which is the layer of fat behind their abdominal muscles, while women typically lose subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just below the skin,” said Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health expert for Maple Holistics. “Both your visceral and subcutaneous fat contribute to your achieving a flat stomach, which is why some women find it harder to do so than others. Furthermore, factors like hormone regulation play a role in storing visceral fat, which is why many women are not biologically built for a flat stomach.”

TRUST HOW YOUR BODY IS BUILT

Just like it protects your organs, each thing your body does is for a reason. As you fight what your body does, it puts you at odds with what it needs, sometimes to the point of danger.

Ariel Johnston, a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders, cautions clients that they’ll likely see fat accumulate around their stomachs.

“When weight restoring through increased nutrition, the weight is distributed unevenly and goes to the stomach first,” she said. “This is amazing because it is the body’s way of telling us that it needs the extra fat layer there to protect itself. The mechanism behind this isn’t fully understood, but after adequate time and nourishment, the fat is redistributed throughout the body.”

Yes, your stomach will go up and down, looking different at certain times than others. “It is normal for the stomach to expand after a big meal to accommodate for the food nourishing your body. This isn’t necessarily bloating; just your body doing it’s work to break down food in the stomach,” Johnston says.

Having a flat stomach is not the key to being healthy or happy. There are some days in which I see my stomach poke out in my shirt or still cringe at first look when I’m in my undergarments, but life is simply too short to go after something unattainable while hating myself.

“I tell my clients that a slightly rounded tummy or some rolls is normal and that their worth is so much more than what they look like in a swimsuit,” Johnston says.

Instead of diets and habits that promise women something they don’t need to and can’t achieve, let’s start celebrating women for who they are.

Healthy Byte: Good Fat vs Bad Fat

No one can spot train to lose fat. However, there are certain combination of things that can be done to curtail it, especially for those who may be genetically predisposed to carry excess weight in the abdomen. Check this out!

(Photo: Corbis)

With guys, weight gain—and loss—is all about the gut.

Men are genetically predisposed to carry any excess weight in their abdomens, says Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon with the Chapman Medical Center in California and president of The N.E.W. Program. Unfortunately, unlike fat in your butt, neck, and thighs, abdominal fat isn’t limited to subcutaneous, just-below-the-skin fat. Belly fat exists all the way down to and around your organs. “This visceral fat is directly correlated with multiple medical problems including diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, and a shorter life expectancy,” he says.

Add all of that to the simple fact that guts just aren’t sexy and, yeah, you have plenty of reason to get rid of yours for good. Luckily, all of these science-approved tips don’t just fight fat—they fight belly fat.

1) Lift Weights

“Abdominal fat is more metabolically active than peripheral body fat,” Quebbemann says. “That means that when you exercise, you’ll disproportionately lose more abdominal than peripheral fat.” And while any exercise will help you lose weight, strength training reduces body fat better than steady-state cardio, according to 2015 research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

2) Eat The Right Fats

Saturated fat, bad. Unsaturated fat, good. In one 2014 Diabetes study, when people ate an extra 750 calories from fat every day for seven weeks, those who loaded up on saturated fat gained more visceral fat while those who ate polyunsaturated fat gained less fat and more lean muscle.

3) Befriend Fiber

Fiber does more than get things moving. In one 2012 Obesity study, people who simply increased their daily intake of soluble fiber by 10 grams reduced their visceral fat by 3.7 percent over the course of five years. To get more soluble fiber, Quebbemann suggests reaching for fruit, beans, and oats.

4) Get More Sleep

Less sleep, more belly. Sleeping five hours or less per night increases people’s visceral fat levels, according research from Wake Forest University. One reason: Because skipping out on sleep results in higher levels of fat-promoting stress hormones such as cortisol, he says.

5) Drink…In Moderation

When it comes to alcohol, there’s a definite sweet spot. According to research from the University at Buffalo, people who drink less than once a week—but more than four drinks at a time—have larger beer guts than guys who drink more often, but less during each sitting. It turns out, in moderation (aim for no more than two drinks per day), alcohol consumption may actually be linked to less inflammation and smaller stomachs.

6) Eat More Protein

Apart from keeping your blood sugar levels stable and your stomach feeling full, proteinmay alter how your body stores fat. In one 2014 study of high-calorie diets, those who got their excess calories from protein stored 45 percent of them as muscle, while those on low-protein diets stored 95 percent of the excess calories as fat.

7) Replace Refined Grains With Whole Ones

“Sugar and refined carbohydrates push up your blood sugar, subsequently increasing your insulin secretions and forcing calories to be deposited as fat,” Quebbemann says. “The first place this fat is deposited in men is in the belly.” Hence why a recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that guys who eat refined grains have more visceral fat and larger waistlines than those who eat whole ones.

8) Ditch Diet Soda

If you haven’t gotten the memo by now, no soda is safe. In fact, drinking two diet sodas a day is linked to a five-fold increase in people’s waist measurements, per research from the University of Texas. While researchers aren’t exactly sure why, previous research suggests that artificial sweeteners may trick the body into overeating, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

9) Eat More C

Vitamin C can do more than fend off colds. According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, people who get the most C have the smallest waists. It may because it reduces inflammation in the body. But don’t limit yourself to oranges. Red bell peppers, spinach, and strawberries all have a good amount of the nutrient.

 10) Drink Tea

Green tea shouldn’t get all of the glory. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, polyphenols from green, black, and oolong teas may reduce inflammation as well as fat accumulation around the stomach.

 

Originally Posted HERE

HB Sig