Belly fat is one of the hardest to lose. You may find to your dismay that despite your exhaustive workouts and stringent diet, the stubborn fat still clings to your abdominal region. Maybe your hormones are to blame.
Hormonal imbalances can encourage the accumulation of fat around your belly area. It can also make you hungrier and increase the chances of craving junk food. You may not be at fault after all, but you can change the situation.
First, how do you know hormones are making you gain belly fat? Here are telltale signs you need to watch out.
Signs Hormones Are Making You Gain Belly Fat
1. Unexplained Belly Fat Gain
You maintain a food log and follow your diet plan religiously. But your jeans now fit tighter and buckling your belt requires a little struggle. Are you gaining weight?
This change is a sign of hormonal changes in the body. Some people will notice a bulge suddenly after many years of having a flat stomach. What you are dealing with is likely a hormonal belly.
Hormonal belly occurs when your body becomes inefficient at using insulin. Insulin encourages the metabolism of sugar.
When you become insulin-resistant, the body accumulates glucose and converts it into fat instead of using it for metabolic processes.
Luckily, you can fight hormonal belly by improving your insulin sensitivity.
2. Increased Stress
Scientists say that sudden weight gain can occur due to stress. That is the work of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body cope with stress. However, elevated levels of the hormone promote the accumulation of fat in the belly region.
When you have chronic stress, the body produces more cortisol to help you cope with the situation. However, cortisol signals the body to hold on to fat rather than use it since it believes your survival is threatened.
In trying to protect itself, the body is putting you at a disadvantage. What do you do in this situation? Identify the stressors in your life and try to eliminate them to lower your cortisol levels.
3. Strong Sugar Cravings
Increased levels of the satiety hormone leptin can lead to uncontrollable cravings for sugary food. Leptin signals the brain to stop eating when you are full. However, high levels of leptin, which can be due to insulin resistance and other factors can reduce the effectiveness of the hormone.
Your leptin receptors may stop working normally if their levels are always high. The result is that instead of helping you avoid overeating, you won’t even know you need to stop.
4. Stubborn Visceral Fat
Hormonal imbalance can make it impossible to shake off the fat hanging above your beltline. Studies indicate that this is usually the work of the stress hormone cortisol.
When you have an excessive amount of cortisol coursing through your blood, it becomes almost impossible to lose belly fat no matter how hard you try.
If you notice weight loss in other body parts except the belly, look into your stress levels. Adequate sleep, meditation, essential oils, and adaptogens are natural ways to lower stress.
5. Mood Swings
Hormones can play with your mind. For women who are in their premenopausal and post-menopausal years, plummeting estrogen levels can lead to dramatic mood changes and fat buildup around the belly region.
Low estrogen levels have been linked to insulin resistance, which I’ve mentioned, promotes weight gain around the midsection.
This is one reason many menopausal women who used to have a trim physique have an expanding waistline. The worst part is that they can’t lose it in spite of diets and workouts. It’s not you that’s failing; it’s your changing body that is making you fatter in the middle.
Here are strategies to help you lose belly fat during menopause.
Research indicates that sleep deprivation can be a sign that hormones are making you gain belly fat.
When you don’t sleep, you become exhausted. Exhaustion leads to lower productivity and low life quality, causing stress.
Stress builds up cortisol levels, which is known to cause weight gain in the midsection. Cortisol also inhibits the production of the human growth hormone which the body needs for muscle growth. Poor muscle growth lowers your ability to burn fat.
7. Low Libido
Low libido is a sign that something is wrong with your hormones. The sex hormone testosterone plays an important role in muscle gain, and its depletion can lead to slow metabolism and weight gain.
If you have lost your edge in bed and notice a bigger belly, try to adjust your workouts and diet to boost sex hormone levels.
8. Reduced Muscle Mass
Like testosterone, the growth hormone plays an important part in muscle growth and tissue repair. Any imbalance in the production of GH, testosterone, insulin and thyroid hormones can lead to muscle loss. And this is bad.
It is bad because muscles play an active role in the metabolism of calories. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your body’s ability to burn calories.
Losing muscle mass can lead to an increase in weight gain around the abdominal region. However, regular strength training exercise and a diet rich in protein and complex carbs can help regain muscle tissue.
9. Chronic Fatigue
Are you always exhausted even after sleeping for 8-10 hours? Your endocrine system might be having problems doing its job.
Chronic fatigue forces your body to overwork, reduces metabolism and compromises your body’s fat-burning potential.
This can lead to weight gain, particularly in the midsection.
10. Night Binge-Eating
Elevated levels of the appetite hormone ghrelin can cause you to crave junk food at the wee hours.
When your sleeping pattern is disorganized, there will be an increase in the level of ghrelin and decrease in the production of leptin, which controls satiety.
The imbalance makes you crave carbs at night, especially sugary foods. And this encourages your body to store abdominal fat.
Hormones are important parts of our lives and play a critical role in how the body stores or uses fat. If you find it hard to lose the weight in your midsection, you might be dealing with a hormonal problem.
The good news is that most hormonal issues are controllable with the right dietary and lifestyle changes.
Other than making the changes I’ve suggested above, you need to add strength training to your daily routine. It will boost your metabolism and help balance your hormones.