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October 4, 2019

Love handles or belly fat? What’s the difference?!

Fitness, DOMS

Today we’re talking about the stomach, why we store fat there and some of the main culprits!

When we speak about stomach fat, many people seem to group everything together, when in fact, there are some key differences and each one needs treating in a different manner!

For example, did you know that the reason that you store fat around your hips (the more affectionately known "love handle" area) is down to the amount of processed carbohydrates you’re eating! 

If you’re eating too much white bread, pasta, etc., you are far more likely to store fat around your hips. Carbs affect everyone differently and are definitely not something that you should cut out of your diet, but most people’s love handles are from excess processed carbs!

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The other type of stomach fat that many people find themselves storing is fat around the belly button area. The main cause of this kind of fat? Stress!

When you are stressed, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is your stress hormone and when you begin to develop too much of it, you store fat around your belly button area. Essentially, the more stressed you are, the more fat you are likely to store!

Now, in this day and age, who can honestly say that they don't have some form of stress in their lives? Perhaps it’s money, family, relationships etc. So don’t think that each of things are the sole cause of belly fat storage, we all release cortisol and need it all the time, but there are a few indicators that you might be releasing too much.

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Your cortisol levels should be at their highest in the morning and give you energy to jump out of bed and then slowly lower throughout the day. But a lot of people find that they have an inverse cortisol relationship – they struggle to get up in the morning and struggle to go to sleep. It’s too low in the morning and too high at night.

Don’t panic though, there are a few things that you can do to help decrease your cortisol if you need to. Firstly, if you’re chronically stressed, try to remove the stressor. Easier than it sounds, but if something is causing you constant stress, you should not be afraid to step away if you need to. Speak to a therapist, a GP, a friend! Having a support network around you is usually the best way to help reduce your stress levels!

Likewise, if sleep is your main concern, there are a few things that you can begin doing to help. Switch off all digital screens at least 2 hours before you go to sleep at night. Phone screens are excellent at spiking your cortisol levels and straining your eyes, so if you can, turn them off and focus on getting a good night! Also, try introducing magnesium supplements into your day.

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Magnesium is a godsend for anyone looking to improve their sleep pattern. Magnesium supplements help promote a deeper, better quality of sleep, but there are a few things to look out for before buying them. The first thing to check is the type of magnesium, it might be tempting to grab the cheapest supplement you can find, but these will most likely be Magnesium Oxide supplements. They won't make you sleep better and will only make you need the toilet more…

Instead, try Magnesium Glycinate, this will not only help you have a deeper sleep but also increases insulin sensitivity, meaning that your body will be able to handle carbohydrates in a more efficient way.

A few other common cortisol releasers are:

• Being dehydrated.

• Eating foods you’re intolerant to. Like Gluten and Dairy.

• Lack of quality sleep, constant waking.

• Not being positive, having a negative focus on life.

• Lack of recovery from exercise. This is hard to do, you have to train crazy amounts.

• Too much caffeine or alcohol

So there you have it! The differences between love handles and belly fat! Who knew?!

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