There are many reasons why women accumulate fat around the midsection, around the belly, around the love handles, and around even the upper thighs. What I want to explain in this article is that what causes belly fat in females, because they’re completely different for women than they are for men. And a lot of them are thyroid-related and somewhat mineral related. And hopefully, once you learn these causes and mistakes, you’ll be able to implement some things that are going to help turn your lifestyle around a little bit, even if they’re just little tweaks that change everything.
5 Major Causes of Belly fat
There are a lot of factors that affect the WOMEN’S Stomach Fat but here I will talk about the 5 major causes of belly fat in females.
1. Minerals and Thyroid Function
Iodine & Tyrosine
The first thing that I do want to talk about is the thyroid. The thyroid plays a much bigger role for women than it does for men, at least in my opinion. Everywhere I turn, I’m talking to women that deal with thyroid issues. They deal with Hashimoto, they deal with all kinds of issues with their thyroid, some degree, some kind of hypothyroidism.
So let’s talk about what is actually leading to belly fat accumulation in women when it comes down to the thyroid. Well, first we have to understand how this works. So our thyroid produces something known as T4, and this T4 gets turned in to T3. T3 is our active thyroid hormone and it’s T3 that goes around, it acts upon all kinds of different cells in our bodies, doing all kinds of different things.
One of the most important things that it does as far as our metabolism is concerned, is it activates oxygen consumption at the mitochondrial level. So what that means is it increases oxygen to get into the mitochondria, therefore creating heat, body heat, thermogenesis, and fat burning. So if we don’t have T3 to activate that oxygen consumption or increase oxygen consumption or mitochondria don’t function as well. So we store more fat or don’t burn as much.
Now another thing T3, or thyroid in general, very important for fat metabolism, but extremely important for carbohydrate metabolism. So if your T3 levels are low, you’re not incinerating or utilizing carbohydrates, right? And carbohydrates, if not used properly, end up going through what’s called de novo lipogenesis [ (DNL) is a complex and highly regulated metabolic pathway. In normal conditions, DNL converts excess carbohydrates into fatty acids that are then esterified to storage triacylglycerols (TGs) ], where they get converted into fat by the liver. And because they’re converted at the liver, they deposit by the liver. So women tend to store it around their midsection when they’re not metabolizing carbohydrates well.
So the biggest problem that women face when it comes to their thyroid is usually not getting enough iodine. You see iodized salt is low-quality stuff, you’re not getting the right mineral profile that you need, you’re getting a little bit of iodine in that salt, but you’re not getting the other minerals that support everything. Iodine is critical to actually create the thyroid hormone. It combines with tyrosine to create the thyroid hormone. So you have to get something like a seaweed snack or kelp snack or something that has iodine in it, you can even take an iodine tablet, get some iodine in you and it will start to fix the issue a bit.
Importance Of Zinc
The other thing you have to pay attention to is getting zinc, it’s hard to get good zinc out of our food these days. Our minerals are just completely washed away from a lot of our plants. Our soils depleted in it. Try to get some zinc, if you’re just a 20 or 30 micrograms to have, you don’t need much at all. So zinc is very important when it comes down to triggering what are called the thyroid hormone receptors.
So these thyroid hormone receptors are in your brain. They’re in your hypothalamus. And they recognize when you have low or high levels of thyroid. So you need to make sure that you’re taking care of those receptors so that you can get the right signal.
Lastly selenium. Get in just like two to three Brazil nuts a day is going to get you good selenium. Selenium is what allows that process that conversion from T4 to T3 to occur, very important, taking inactive thyroid and making it active thyroid so that your metabolism can burn as hot as it needs to. Now Additionally, if you’ve ever suffered from an autoimmune condition or you know someone that does maybe something like Hashimoto or anything like that, well, what happens is when the thyroid is trying to convert iodine, it creates hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct.
Hydrogen Peroxide can trigger some autoimmune conditions. Selenium neutralizes hydrogen peroxide. So just one more reason to get Selenium in. So don’t be deficient in iodine, zinc and selenium.
2. Low Fat & Calorie Diet
The next one we want to talk about is eating a low calorie diet. This is honestly it’s an obvious one, but it’s super important. Studies have shown that women are much more likely to go on a diet that is too low calorie than men. It’s just natural. Think about it. Women tend to restrict calories a lot more than men. Now we have a very delicate thyroid stimulating hormone feedback system.
So if our calories start to decrease, our thyroid stimulating hormone increases in an effort to try to produce more thyroid, but if we don’t have the calories to support that, it doesn’t happen. So what happens is instead of the body taking T4 and turning it to T3, it turns T4 into reverse T3.
Now what that means is T3 is your active thyroid, it’s burned in the fire, right? reverse T3 looks just like T3, except it doesn’t act like it. So it acts upon the cells it goes to the receptors. It blocks the receptors. So then what little bit of T3 you do have in the system, can’t even activate the cell because reverse T3 is blocking it.
So you just took yourself from having a slow metabolism to an even slower metabolism by reducing your calories, simply because your thyroid levels are going to get out of whack. You have to keep your calories high enough. So eat a little bit fattier cuts of meat. And don’t be afraid to do something like a ketogenic diet where you can keep your calories high, because you have a little bit of flexibility since your carbs are lower.
3. Eating too Low of Protein
The next one I want to talk about is tied in with that, and that’s eating too low of levels of protein. I see women all the time cutting down their protein intake because it’s a simple way to cut calories. Well, here’s a study that might enlighten you a bit. So this was published in the JMA journal. It took a look at 25 people broken into three diet groups, they had each of these diet groups eat an excess of 954 calories, almost 1000 calories each day.
That’s going to cause you to gain some weight right. Now, they did this for a long period of time, but the only difference between the diet groups was some more high protein and some more variations of higher fat. At the end of the study, it was pretty cool. They found all subjects gained weight. No surprise there. All subjects ended up gaining about the exact same amount of fat about 7.7 pounds. But the protein group gained the most weight.
What the heck, that’s not good, right? Well, now it actually is, because they gain the same amount of fat, but they also gained muscle. The other groups didn’t gain muscle, the low protein group didn’t gain muscle, the high protein group gained muscle. What that means is that increases the lean body mass so that later on down the line, their metabolism is faster than the other peoples. So not only does their thyroid come back to life, because they’re getting enough calories, but their metabolism is increasing because they have enough lean body mass to drive it.
lean body mass and muscle tissue is the biggest driver of your metabolism and that’s probably the biggest failure that I see women make is they’re afraid to have a little bit of muscle. You’re not going to turn into a bodybuilder, I promise you. You’re going to build muscle, it’s going to light the metabolic fire, it’s going to do everything you need to get lean and get rid of belly fat, but also keep the thyroid levels high.
4. Vitamin D
This next one is one that isn’t talked about enough and it’s huge. Number 4 is vitamin D. Get your vitamin D, preferably from the sun but if you have to use a supplement, use a supplement. Just to give you an idea of how much vitamin D gets trapped in our fat cells. Let me reference another study, this study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It was a one-year-long study that took a look at 439 women that were aged 50 to 75. And it had them go on some variation of a weight loss protocol.
Four different groups, diet only group, exercise and diet group, exercise only group and a control group. Although it ultimately didn’t really matter about the groups because what they found at the end of the study was all weight loss related. If the subjects lost 5 to 10% of their body weight, they had a nice increase in vitamin D3. That’s kind of weird with no change, right, just the increase in d3. But if they lost 15% or more of their body weight, they had three times as much vitamin D3 released into their body than the other groups. What gives, but remember, vitamin D is fat soluble.
So if you have fat on you already, your vitamin D gets soaked up into the fat cells and doesn’t get utilized by the body. Well, guess what? We need it utilized by the body we need it it’s imperative and here’s why it’s something called uncoupling protein 3.
We have vitamin D get elevated, uncoupling protein 3 gets activated and elevated a lot. And what that does is it makes it so that inside the cell, inside the mitochondria of the cell, it makes it so that excess fat like if you eat too much fat doesn’t pour into the cell. It makes it so that basically the cell says hey, we’re full we don’t need anymore. So it can keep going on and circulating and ultimately get excluded or get utilized or even better burned. So uncoupling protein 3 and the link with vitamin D is huge with belly fat. So I cannot overemphasize that enough.
How much Vitamin D should I take?
If you get out and get in the sun for 15 or 20 minutes or take 2500IU vitamin D can make a huge difference. The other thing we have to look at is low levels of vitamin D have a negative correlation with your parathyroid hormone. If your parathyroid hormones out of whack, it turns you into a fat storage machine. Parathyroid really doesn’t have much to do with your regular thyroid. But the fact is, vitamin D is critical. It’s not a vitamin, it’s a hormone. And hormones play a big role in fat storage.
5. Stress & Lack of Sleep
Which leads me to the last reason that women gain belly fat. And that is simply stress and lack of sleep. There was a study that was published in the Journal of brain and behavior that found that women are twice as likely to suffer stress than men predominantly coming from the workplace. So what that means is that women tend to get stressed out because they get kind of the cold shoulder in the workplace a lot and creates a lot of stress and it makes them feel inferior.
So this particular study was pretty large and it found that women were a lot more susceptible to stress than men after a day at work. So we already have the stress. But then there’s a lot of correlations with lack of sleep and cortisol. And cortisol does play a very critical role in how we store fat.
Cortisol can be good, cortisol can actually help us burn fat. But when we’re chronically stressed, we have high levels of cortisol, we store fat, it activates lipoprotein lipase. it causes us to store fat. we have four times as many cortisol receptors in our abdominal fat than anywhere else in our body. So women when you get stressed out, and then you stress ease and you have that innocent piece of chocolate, well, eating that chocolate, when you’re stressed out is more than likely going almost all to your belly fat, it really is.
So get your sleep. Try to get your stress under control, and try to eat in consolidated periods so that you’re not snacking, because that’s what’s gonna really mess you up.
So now we can put it all together. we can realize our sleep, our vitamin D, our overall stress levels, our overall levels of our thyroid and our minerals. And of course, what we are eating, are we eating too much, are we eating too little, that all play a big role in what happens with our waistline, both for men and women. Hopefully, this article shed some light on you specifically as a female with things that you can do to start changing the shape of your body and the shape of your life.