At some point, we have all looked down at our bellies and wondered if we could trim away the fat portions with a pair of scissors. Despite doing endless crunches, glugging mugs of green tea and even cutting down on carbs, our bellies remain immune to our weight loss efforts.
Notoriously difficult to “target”, the belly is often the last place where we see the effects of our weight loss efforts. Most of us, even those who are successful at reducing weight overall, may still struggle with a chubby tummy. Have you ever wondered why?
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Dr Sushruta Mokadam, Senior Consultant Obstetrician &Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune, believes that the culprit may not be your diet or exercise, but your hormones. That’s right. After the bane of the endo belly, we bring to you the scourge of hormonal belly.
What’s a hormonal belly?
“It is a no-brainer that hormones regulate various functions in the body along with metabolism, stress, hunger, and sex drive. Due to fluctuation in the hormonal levels, there could be a deficiency in certain hormones, and that’s why your belly bulge is becoming more prominent than before, and it can be called a hormonal belly,” says Dr Mokadam.
Hormone-associated conditions can make your midsection immune to any weight loss efforts.
“It could be caused by an underactive thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome and even menopause,” says the doctor.
Other imbalances, says Dr Mokadam, could be caused by obesity, stress and medications.
Top signs of a hormonal belly
If you want to see your belly fat banished to whence it came, it’s important to read the signs. Dr Mokadam lists three top signs of a hormonal belly.
Hunger or lack of satisfaction even after eating
It’s barely been an hour since you last ate, yet you find yourself rummaging through snacks. “If this is happening to you, your sex hormones are indirectly impacting the ones that help regulate your metabolism — oestrogen and testosterone,” points out Dr Mokadam.
A low oestrogen level can make you hungry even after a meal. Oestrogen, says the doctor, has an impact on your leptin levels. As we know, leptin is a hormone that regulates our appetite. “High levels of leptin are problematic,” states Dr Mokadam.
Leptin abnormalities can pose a variety of metabolic syndromes, obesity in particular.
If you remind yourself of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland — the one that goes, “I’m late!” all the time — we have bad news. A constant state of stress may soon make its presence felt in your midriff.
“Every time you are stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol to help your body respond promptly. In case you are stressed all the time, your adrenal gland will not even realise it’s producing more cortisol than your body needs,” the doctor explains.
A bulging belly
Weight gain in the abdominal area is a sign of hormones out of whack. “Low oestrogen can be seen due to excessive exercise, an improper diet or pituitary gland problems. When oestrogen levels dramatically reduce, one may gain more weight around the belly,” adds Dr Mokadam.
If you checked all three boxes, a doctor visit is in the offing if you genuinely want to get rid of your belly fat. You may need guidance beyond just diet and exercise, and the will to follow all the vital advice the expert may give you, concludes Dr Mokadam.