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Why do Indian men/ women carry a lot of fat around the belly? - Roshni Sanghvi

Why do Indian men/ women carry a lot of fat around the belly?

In all honesty, a tiny layer of fat around your belly is healthy and protective.

But we are talking here about people who seem to not even eat much but gain fat around their belly. It's like even the air they breath leads to belly fat. Let's understand why this happens.

It is important to understand that the body decides where to lose fat from once you start exercising and eat right. No, spot reduction is not possible. So the hours you spend working those abs will not help you with belly fat reduction, I am sorry.

You can however spot tone muscle fibers. So, for instance, if you work really hard on your upper body and not enough for your legs, you will develop more strength and muscle fibres on your upper body. We see this in the gym all the time with guys having huge biceps/ chest but with chicken legs.

So, ideally, AFTER you lose the fat around your belly, and want to tone up your abs, the core training workouts will marginally help. Understanding that spot reduction is not possible, how do we go about getting the inches off our belly.

But could belly- fat be genetic?

Women tend to carry more fat around the lower abs/ hips and thighs just because of biology. A women's body is designed to carry an offspring and the extra layer of fat around the belly will help you carry a baby safely.

Men tend to carry a layer of fat around the lower back instead because through generations men worked in agriculture and outdoors and an extra layer of fat around the lower back is protective and helpful to work long hours with a bent back.

Besides this small difference in sexes, genetics has nothing to do with belly fat. If you have belly fat and so did your parents, chances are that you are following the same lifestyle changes as them to get to where you are. Watch the below video to understand how minor changes in your lifestyle can help you get rid of excess fat for good:

Could excess stress levels add to belly fat?

Belly fat storage has been linked with high cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the body in response to external or internal stress detected by the brain.

External stress factors could be things like work pressure, relationship and family pressure, long work hours etc. Internal stress could be caused by not eating for long hours, hormonal imbalance in the body, lack of sleep/ rest etc.

Read more about PCOS Diet for Indians.

Cortisol receptors are stored around the belly. Research shows that the more the release of cortisol, the more fat cells love to go and sit around the abdomen. This cortisol will then hold onto any fat from the food you eat and store it instead of using it as a source of energy.

So it will not matter even if you are eating less, your body will convert whatever calories you are eating to belly fat instead of storing them as glycogen. This excess belly fat will in- turn lead to more hormonal imbalance.But how do I control stress?

External stress is not always in our control, we can however control internal stress. Taking steps like eating enough micronutrients so that the body can repair itself, sleeping well, and switch to a whole food plant- based diet that is naturally healing and anti- inflammatory.

Lifestyle changes can definitely help reduce stress and cortisol, but so will exploring mental health. Include meditation or yin yoga to your daily routine. maybe discuss with an expert about steps you can take to reduce anxiety.

What should I eat to get rid of belly fat?

Not having enough good bacteria means your body's ability to digest food well and break down micronutrients goes down. Undigested food in the gut causes constipation, bloating, and belly fat.

Unless we eat food rich in PREbiotic (good bacteria feeds on prebiotics and grow), we might be breading a very dangerous environment in our guts. Low good gut bacteria levels have also been linked to higher cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and inflammation. Read this blog to understand the difference between pre and probiotics:

Grains and beans are high in prebiotics, breading the good bacteria. Studies suggest that people who consume three servings of whole grains per day tend to have lower belly fat, body mass, and a lower tendency to gain weight.

What are some of the common reasons Indian women are fat?

In most Indian women's middle years, both physical activity and metabolic rate decline. However, as the energy requirement decreases, even regular or routine eating may result in weight gain. Furthermore, the established cultural or social values regarding pregnancy care and diet help women gain more weight.

Lifestyle’s of Indian women also expose them to environmental toxins, raising exposure to hormonal disrupters, causing elevated estrogen levels. This condition of estrogen dominance is also a key factor to weight gain.

But won't carbs lead to fat?

I have seen so many people chug down protein shakes in the hope of losing weight. This is counter productive to your goals. If your goal is fat loss, you do not need 120 additional calories coming in from proteins. Your meal plan will have real proteins.

Proteins do not contribute towards weight loss, but consuming extra proteins will covert them to carbs through a process called gluconeogenesis and eventually be stored as fat.

If there is any food group that will help with fat loss, it is fiber and starch. Fiber is 2-3 calories for every gram (1/2 the calories of proteins) and starch is 1 calories per gram (1/4th the calories of proteins). So focus on eating more starches and fiber.

A simple transition to eating three cups of fruits per day alone is enough to see a difference. Do not fear fruits as a reason to weight gain, if anything, the very opposite is true.

Is there any changes in exercise I need to make to lose bellyfat?

Yes! If you train like a powerlifter, you will look like a powerlifter. Firstly decide what your core goal is, muscle gain or fat loss? Train and eat as per your goals.

Focus on MISS cardio more to help with belly fat loss. What is MISS cardio?

Unlike HIIT or Tabata training which is exceptionally good to build endurance, MISS cardio directly targets stubborn belly fat. MISS cardio is often done for 45- 60 minutes and not very intense.

Think of taking a brisk walk on the beach or cycling on steady terrain for an hour. Your heart rate for this type of cardio should not exceed 40- 60% of your base heart- rate. A simple test to check your heart rate would be the 'talk test'.

You should be able to maintain a conversation with broken sentences during this cardio. So jogging/ brisk walking is ok but not a run where you are breathless.

This video will also throw some insights:

MISS cardio targets stubborn belly fat but spares lean muscle mass. So you will lose fat but not as much muscle mass. Even if you can include 30 -40 minutes of steady easy cardio post your main workout, it's great! Just turn some Netflix on and get on the treadmill for an uphill walk.

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Any magic trick to get rid of bloating?


I did my first enema as part of my liver and gallbladder flush routine. The flush itself has some benefits with regard to getting rid of a bloated belly and improving overall gut microbial function.

Since the liver is the organ responsible for detoxing the entire body.

Keeping the flush aside, enema's or even a colon hydrotherapy is a conventional but good way to flush out a backlogged colon. When I went in for my first session, the nurse in charge for my therapy was explaining to me how a lot of people coming in have so much of backlog in their colon due to a bad diet that they actually walk out a few kilo's lighter!

If you have a very bad lifestyle and food habits, worth exploring an enema or colon hydrotherapy.

To sum up:

Indian Men Belly Fat Reasons

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About Roshni Sanghvi

Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.