Usually, a spare tire’s a good thing – when you’re talking about automobiles. However, most talk of spare tires these days usually refers to our ever-expanding waistlines. Two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight, while 5% have dangerous levels of obesity.
Your particular body type determines where extra fat is stored. For most guys, that location just happens to be the gut or belly area. While men typically prefer visceral fat storage, women tend to stash away fat cells directly underneath the skin. And even though men are more likely to have a “beer belly,” the phenomenon exists in women, too.
The Primary Causes of Belly Fat
- Gut bacteria imbalance. You probably thought this reason would be cupcakes, pizza and soda, right? (Don’t worry, we’re getting there.) The human body contains billions of tiny microbes in the gut, waging a silent war for bacterial supremacy. When the good bacteria are winning, your body functions as normal, which means excess fat cells are used for energy. But when the bad guys advance, all sorts of problems develop – including the body’s ability to use stored fat. Gut bacteria is so important, researchers were able to “plump up” normal weight mice with gut bacteria transplants from obese mice.
- When your body is burned out, metabolism is usually one of the first victims. As the stress hormone cortisol increases, so does the accumulation of body fat.
- Excess calories. It’s not exactly rocket science, but if you’re eating more energy than you’re burning, your body will store those calories as fat. And if you’re a guy, the preferred storage locker just happens to reside around your waist. Too much mindless eating can also cause women to accumulate body fat around the belly, although weight gain in this area isn’t as pronounced as it is for men.
- Not enough protein in the diet. Protein-deprived people have been shown to collect belly fat more readily than other types of dieters. For men, an eating plan sufficient in protein and fiber can help deflate that spare tire. Problem areas in women – most notably the thighs and hips – are also helped with a moderate-to-high protein diet.
- Disrupted sleep. We’re only now just realizing how important those zzzz’s are. Decreased sleep is directly tied to increased stress, which upregulates cortisol production (there’s that hormone again). But beyond the stress factor, insufficient sleep also impacts mental clarity, alertness, metabolism and a host of other interconnected body functions.
The Problem of Excess Belly Fat
So now that we have a clearer picture of what causes belly fat, what’s the big deal? Does a spare tire or love handles indicate serious health problems? Or are they simply a sign that a person is overweight? Let’s cut to the chase with this question: belly fat can’t kill you, right?
It might. Or rather, it may be a sign of related health issues than can certainly shorten your lifespan.
A New England Journal of Medicine study shows the link between early death and excess belly fat. And while some of the analysis from the study isn’t quite clear on exactly why excess adipose tissue (body fat) near the belt is a big thing, one fact is indisputable: people with more waistline weight generally die sooner than everyone else. Other factors are in play, for sure: diabetes, cancer, inactivity, poor nutrition and many more. The study’s startling conclusion stated that men with at least 47 inch waistlines were twice as likely to die young than men with waistlines 31 inches and under.
Another study showed that belly fat’s close proximity to the portal vein allows rapid transport of free fatty acids to the liver, where they can disrupt blood lipid production. Belly fat isn’t just an issue for your strained belt; it’s also a serious sign of potential (or already existing) health problems.
And even once you set aside all the scientific facts, metabolic factors, negative health consequences and other facts, there’s the embarrassment factor. Blubbery bellies at the beach, for example, usually draw the wrong kind of attention.
Urgent Care Extra offers our patients and customers effective methods to get rid of those stubborn excess pounds – which in many cases takes the form of belly fat. We can assist with a medical weight loss plan tailored specifically to your needs.
If you’d like to get started today, call us at (480) 988-9108 or stop by one of our healthcare walk-in clinics. With more than 40 locations spread throughout Nevada and Arizona, Urgent Care Extra’s medical facilities are the clear-cut choice for individuals and families in the U.S. Southwest region. Thanks
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