Can’t seem to find a pair of jeans to hide your bulging belly? We feel you. Love handles are a common sore spot for women everywhere.
For starters, it doesn’t help that we naturally carry more body fat than men.
To be exact, women have between six and 11 per cent more body fat than men. Blame it on evolution. Because of our childbearing functions, the body has fat reserves in anticipation of future pregnancies.
The reasons behind belly fat
But why does fat accumulate so aggressively around the belly? A poor diet and physical inactivity are two major culprits. Less obviously, stress, alcohol, and menopause are equally important contributing factors.
Firstly, when you are stressed from a long week of work, your production of cortisol shifts into overdrive. This hormone causes the body to redistribute fat stores to the belly. The higher the levels of cortisol, the more the belly fat. And we haven’t even taken stress-eating into account yet.
Naturally slim women aren’t spared from this hormonal chain reaction, either. Researchers from Yale University found that thinner women who experienced stress regularly were more likely to have love handles.
Secondly, alcohol. You probably already are aware that calories from alcohol are “empty calories”, in the sense that they don’t contain much nutritional value. But that’s not the only reason why it is detrimental to your waistline.
A study published in the journal Obesity concluded that women consumed about 30 per cent more food when they were tipsy. Basically, they found that alcohol intensifies hunger pangs, and – to make matters worse – causes our brains to become more sensitive to the scent of food. Now you know the source of your late-night cravings after a few drinks at the bar.
Lastly, menopause. As if hot flashes and night sweats aren’t punishment enough, you can also expect changes to your waistline as you enter your fifties. This is due to falling levels of oestrogen, the hormone that regulates your period. Unfortunately, it results in body fat from the hips, thighs and buttocks shifting to the midsection.
This can occur as early as perimenopause, which is the stage before menopause itself, during one’s forties. It doesn’t help that you lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows down as you age.
Two types of belly fat you need to know about
There are two main types of belly fat and it’s important to know the difference.
Firstly, there’s subcutaneous fat, which your body stores just under the surface of the skin. It’s literally the fat you can pinch between your fingers.
Deeper within the abdominal cavity lies visceral fat. Visceral fat wraps itself around organs like the kidneys, pancreas and heart. Since visceral fat is hidden, it is possible for some women to have a normal weight but a high visceral fat percentage (skinny fat, if you may). These women are likely to have less obvious love handles even if they’re on the slender side.
Belly fat shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Many studies have shown that visceral fat is much more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. Excessive levels of it places you at risk of developing severe health problems, from breast cancer to cardiovascular disease.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that women with belly fat were more at risk of developing heart disease than men with belly fat. Visceral fat is also a close cousin of increased insulin resistance, which may lead to type 2 diabetes. At least one study has shown that visceral fat increases with age.
Effective ways to lose belly fat
But not all is lost. There are specific lifestyle changes you can make to reduce health risks that follow a large waistline.
Start by selecting the right exercise. If you’re doing sit-ups or crunches specifically to tone up your midriff, don’t bother. Research has proven time and again that spot reduction is a myth. Steady-state workouts like slow jogging or cycling won’t necessarily be enough to make an impact either.
According to science, your best bet is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT consists of intense bursts of exercises with short periods of rest or active recovery.
Scientists from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus conducted an experiment to find out which types of exercise had the largest impact on weight loss and belly fat reduction. The verdict: Those who paired steady-state cardio workouts with HIIT training lost the most weight overall and reduced their belly fat.
Your diet plays an enormous part. Processed and refined foods will always work against your weight loss efforts. Instead, replace them with whole grains, vegetables, and the healthy omega-3 fats found fish, nuts and olive oil.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinic Nutrition agrees. Those who consumed three or more servings of whole grains per day had 10 per cent less visceral fat than those who hardly ate any whole grains.
For the overworked among us: Do learn to manage stress better. Sleep for seven to eight hours nightly, and watch your use of alcohol and tobacco.
Weight loss results will differ from person to person, depending on your lifestyle, environment and even your personal objectives. Not to mention your age, hormones and natural basal metabolism – to name some factors that are more or less out of your control.
Whatever happens, remember that getting used to these adjustments will take time. The rule of thumb is that it takes 66 days, or two months, for a new habit to become a lifestyle. Don’t lose hope if you find yourself struggling in the beginning!
To boost your belly fat-reduction efforts, consider our signature CSH therapy® program. It is a three-step formula that will help you maintain a healthy metabolism and is perfect for getting rid of your love handles.
The heat treatment is particularly useful because it succeeds where spot reduction fails, by allowing you to target stubborn fat in specific areas like your belly, waist and thighs. Cupping therapy and scraping therapy both have unique functions that help you restore your metabolism for natural, long-lasting weight loss.
Read this testimonial from Cherie Lim, a satisfied client who successfully lost weight after a round of our CSH therapy® treatment. Spoiler alert: She lost 8cm from just her waistline in barely 4 weeks*.
We have helped more than 2,500 clients achieve their ideal weight with a 99 per cent success rate since 2002. Book a consultation today.
*Results may vary between individuals.