In order to create a personalised weight loss and body reshaping plan, you need to identify your problem areas and to determine the best exercise and lifestyle changes that can help you target those specific body parts.
However, lots of the people I train come to me complaining not about their slightly heavier bottoms or puffier arms, but about the belly. Fat deposited in the abdominal area seems to be the most stubborn of all, whether we’re talking about men or women, and it’s not uncommon for otherwise slim people to have belly fat and to be unhappy with the shape of their abdomen.
Does the body type theory work in these cases? Well, knowing that you’re a pear or an apple is useful for identifying those exercises that can help you achieve a more proportionate appearance, but focusing more on the upper body or on the legs might not be effective in reducing the belly fat. So today we’ll talk about the Belly type theory, launched by chiropractor Eric Berg, author of a book called The 7 Principles of Fat Burning.
Four types and causes of belly fat
Berg says that his theory is more likely to help one lose the belly, because it is based on hormones and their effects on one’s body shape and fat percentage. He therefore proposes 4 types of belly, and explains the causes and solutions for each of these shapes.
Adrenal belly is linked with stress
First one’s the Adrenal belly or Adrenal shape, caused by increased levels of cortisol. When going through stressful periods, the production of cortisol increases, and this favours the accumulation of fat around the waist, leading to a saggy abdomen. Both men and women are likely to gain weight around the waist if they are constantly exposed to high levels of stress, and besides the excess belly fat, they are also likely to experience fatigue, back pain, nervousness, poor memory and sleep problems.
How to tell if you have the Adrenal belly? If your belly looks as if it drops toward the legs and you know there’s a lot of stress going on in your life, and if you tend to worry excessively, experience frequent episodes of brain fog or crave salty foods, it might be a sign that your adrenals are tired and you need a break.
The solution for this group of people is NOT to go on a restrictive diet or to double the time spent at the gym. What you need is rest, sleep and a better stress management.
Thyroid belly is caused by excess oestrogens
An increased production of oestrogen hormones seems to favour the accumulation of belly around the waist line and on the belly, causing the so-called Thyroid belly. People who have this type of belly tend to gain weight in the upper and lower body simultaneously, the fat being distributed throughout the entire body.
This is the result of a lazy thyroid, the gland being responsible for producing hormones that control the metabolism. A lower metabolism is surely a trigger for weight gain, but it’s not just the excess belly fat that gives headaches to this group of people: they also tend to have poor circulation and cold extremities, hair loss, saggy underarm skin and brittle fingernails.
Those with a thyroid belly crave sweets and tend to prefer simple carbs like bread, but eating carbs, despite providing a quick energy burst, isn’t going to help them lose the extra fat. Instead, these people should focus on restoring the normal production of hormones and the functioning of the thyroid.
Ovary belly is specific for women
The Ovary belly is a female-only problem and is accompanied by saddlebags and lower stomach fat. Very disturbing, this type of belly is caused by an excess of oestrogens, and it’s favoured by hormonal changes that take place during menstruation and after giving birth. The Ovary belly comes with additional symptoms like thin hair, bloating, frequent acne outbreaks and headaches, heavy periods, facial hair and ovarian cysts.
Hip and knee pain, depression and increased water retention, libido problems and night sweats are also likely to occur. The solution in this case also refers to balancing the hormone levels, but in some cases medical treatment might be required – if ovarian cysts are present, for example. A diet that’s rich in protein and fat from vegetal sources, and low in products of animal origin, is more likely to help in getting rid of this type of belly.
Liver belly is caused by liver and bile problems
If your midsection looks like a pot and your arms and legs are rather thin, you’re likely to have a Liver belly. This type of belly sticks out and is made of fat tissue that accumulates due to a decreased production or impaired release of bile, associated with low blood sugar levels in the morning.
Men are more likely to develop this type of belly, and to accuse issues like bloating, flatulence or other digestive problems, back pain and soreness. Shoulder pain can also accompany this type of belly, and in the morning irritability and an increased hunger sensation may be present. All these are the results of a tired liver that no longer works as it should, and the solution is a detox.
In healthy people, the levels of blood sugar are higher in the morning, but in those with liver belly, the glycaemia values are lower, and the hunger sensation persists after eating, because food isn’t properly processed and bile isn’t released in sufficient amounts. People with this type of belly tend to crave sugary foods and to be constantly tired.
To fix this type of belly you need to adjust your diet by adding more protein and reducing the intake of carbohydrates. Remove complex carbs from junk foods with those provided by vegetables, and eliminate alcoholic beverages and sodas. Once your liver’s function is restored, the belly will go away as well.
Is this theory really true? Hard to say, but it does have some logical arguments, so it might be a good idea to give this approach a try and to apply the suggested solutions, then observe the changes in your body fat percentage and belly shape.