5 reasons you can’t shift your spare tyre: How to lose stubborn weight from your middle

If you find yourself struggling to lose weight, despite healthy habits, don’t despair – there could be an easy solution.

You’re hitting the gym, you’ve ditched the carbs and swapped your sandwich for a salad, but for some reason, you can’t seem to shift stubborn weight from around your middle.

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Firstly, it’s the hardest area to lose fat from. Secondly, that spare tyre might be hanging around for reasons you haven’t even have thought of.

So before you stress out that it’s here to stay, we asked a range of nutritionists for their take on getting rid of that spare tyre for good:

1. Inflammation could be to blame

If your extra weight is immune to gym sessions, it could be down to inflammation.

“Your fat cells function as a gland; they produce hormones and other substances, as do other glands in your body. Unfortunately, fat cells produce substances called inflammatory cytokines, which have the effect of pumping up the immune system,” explains nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.

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“This urges adrenal glands to release more cortisol to calm it down. The excess cortisol in your system then causes more fat to be stored, which then releases more inflammatory cytokines. Round and round it goes once more.”

To reduce your inflammation levels, Dr Glenville suggests you look at your diet: “Stay away from the 3Ps – prepared, processed and packaged foods - as well as saturated fats (margarine, pastries, crisps), alcohol, wheat and gluten containing foods, and foods that increase blood sugar levels quickly (sweets, juices, bread).”

2. Your tummy could be sad

Our stomach is made up of gut flora, which is good and bad bacteria. This has a controlling influence over many bodily functions, including metabolism and fat reduction. However, everything from a diet high in sugar, stress and alcohol to taking antibiotics has an effect on the gut bacteria.

So how can we balance it? By limiting the bad bacteria and encouraging good bacteria to grow.

Nutritionist Cassandra Barns recommends: “Feed the good bacteria with fibrous foods and plenty of probiotics, which you can find in fermented foods like Kombucha tea, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and apple cider vinegar.

“Or include a supplement in your diet. Look for the one with different types of strains of bacteria - probiotics may help to reduce the number of calories you absorb from food.”

[Read more: How you can beat chronic inflammation]

3. You’re not reading food labels

If a food says ‘diet’, ‘sugar free’ or ‘low fat’ we assume it’s healthy and will help us to lose weight. Unfortunately, it could in fact be helping the extra weight stick around.

“If a food or drink is described as ‘low sugar’, ‘slimline’ or ‘diet’, it will usually contain an artificial sweetener. These sweeteners have been linked to mood swings and depression, and it has been found that people who regularly use artificial sweeteners tend to gain weight because they can slow down the digestive process and increase appetite,” explains Dr Glenville.

Always read nutrition labels before choosing what you buy.

4. You could be losing out on vital sleep

The time we sleep has been reduced from 9 hours to 7.5 hours since the 1900s. However, missing out on catching some zzzs could be causing you to put on weight.

“People who are sleep deprived have an increased appetite,” comments Dr Glenville.

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“Inadequate sleep lowers levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and increases ghrelin, a hormone that increases food intake and is thought to play a role in long-term regulation of body weight.

“All this suggests that sleep deprivation can make weight loss extremely difficult because it causes your body to work against you! A large study of nearly 70,000 women conducted over 16 years found that those who slept less than five hours a night gained more weight over time than those who slept for 7 hours a night.”

Aim to get at least eight hours of sleep a night with some of these good sleep habits.

5. You could be missing out on magnesium

Apart from keeping heart rhythm steady and boosting energy levels, magnesium can also help in weight loss and body shaping by regulating blood sugar levels.

“Known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, magnesium calms the adrenal glands and helps balance blood sugar by contributing to the production and action of insulin,” says Dr Glenville.

“Include magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Think: leafy green vegetables, bananas, beans, brown rice, nuts and seeds or add a magnesium powder or supplement to your diet.”

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