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What Causes Midsection Weight Gain?

author image Heather M. J. Emerson
Heather M. J. Emerson is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She is the owner and personal trainer at Fit Mommas Personal Training and the author of the "Fit Mommas Guide to a Better Body after Baby."
What Causes Midsection Weight Gain?
A tired and stressed man at his desk. Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images

Many people find it challenging to slim down their midsection, which is composed of both visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue; these types of fat can cause a host of illnesses in the body, such as heart problems and inflammation. There are four causes of midsection weight gain: unhealthy eating habits, loss of sleep, stress and lack of physical activity.

Unhealthy Eating Habits

To avoid midsection jiggle you should forgo foods that are processed and loaded with simple carbohydrates, such as pastries, cookies, pizza, white rice and soft drinks. To slim down your midsection, include more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Healthy choices consist of apples, oranges, raspberries, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and squash -- and include lean protein, such as fish, chicken and turkey. Being aware of how many calories you ingest daily will also help you avoid midsection weight gain. According to Marc O'Meara, R.D., L.D.N. of Brigham and Women's Hospital, you should decrease your calories by 500 per day to create a calorie deficit to promote fat loss from the midsection.

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Not Enough Sleep

Insufficient rest is another culprit that may be responsible for midsection belly fat. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should receive seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adequate rest. For those that have a hard time getting enough sleep, do not drink caffeinated beverages and avoid heavy meals at least three hours before going to bed.

Stress and Cortisol

When stress becomes a negative presence every day of your life it can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, which can produce midsection weight gain. Cortisol is a natural hormone that is secreted by the body’s adrenal glands; the hormone regulates your body’s appetite signals and fat storage. According to Dr. Suzanne Schneider of the University of New Mexico, when people are extremely stressed their cortisol levels rise, causing an increase in appetite and fat storage. Two simple ways to relieve stress include listening to soothing, meditative music and drinking hot tea; these practices will calm your nervous system and reduce stress and cortisol levels.

Lack of Exercise

Not being physically active can make a person more prone to gaining weight in the midsection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, adults 18 to 64 years old should perform at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. One of the most effective types of exercise that can help stave off midsection weight gain is cardiovascular exercise. Excellent cardiovascular exercises include walking, jogging and using the elliptical machine at a level that is moderately intense. Sprinting and swimming are also effective full body workouts; they increase your heart rate, which can spark the body's metabolism and shed stubborn midsection fat.

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