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

Posted on December 16 2019

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

Time to Read: 6 Minutes

Let’s talk belly fat! Because 70% of the clients I meet just want to reduce belly fat.

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 on 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, once 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.

Women tend to carry more fat around the lower abs/ hips and thighs just because of their biology. A women's body is designed to procreate 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 the 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. Keeping basic physiology aside, here are a few of the reasons for obesity in India.

1) High cortisol level's: 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. 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.

Thus, you see a lot of people with lean limbs but a lot of fat around the belly. To reduce belly fat, reduce cortisol. 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 not injecting toxins such as meat/ dairy are some of the ways we can control cortisol activity. 

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. Something as simple as even working on a daily routine to reduce last-minute stress of unplanned activities will help. 

2) Not having enough gut-friendly bacteria. 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.

Some of the obesity facts say that some people have naturally high gut flora, many of us do not. 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.

Grains, on the other hand, 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.  

Eating less processed food and more clean natural food like fruits and vegetables also helps. The more you stay away from packaged and process food, the lesser toxins you put into your body, and the easier it is for the body to digest. A lot of times what you think is belly fat might really just be water retention by the body and a bloated belly instead. Just a simple lifestyle change of eating at least three servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables per day will help you. 

3) Not including enough MISS (moderate intensity steady state cardio) training as part of your routine- Did you know 'cardio' is a very broad term and there are multiple types of cardio exercises you can do. Who knew! Read this article I wrote to understand more:

The best fat burner available in India or worldwide (HINT: it's not a pill).

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. 

One thing to remember absolutely is to fuel yourself with healthy carbs and proteins after this type of training because it is very taxing on the system. Click here and download any one of my smoothies for some re- fuel options. The smoothies are free to download. 

4) Enemas- 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. Though I am not pro or against the flush, you can watch this video with my personal experience:

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:

Check this blog out I wrote about getting rid of water retention if you constantly feel bloated. 

Reach out to me here for customized meal and fitness plans. 


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