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How Did I Get This Big Gut?


Are you rounder in the middle than you would like to be? It didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t likely vanish without a well planned intervention.

How did it happen? You are made up of cells, and your oversized gut is particularly rich in fat cells. Most of them got there before puberty and genetics largely determined their number. (Blame your parents!)

Once formed, they’ll never decrease in number, but they can vary dramatically in size. So if you want to slim down, shrink those fat cells by adjusting your metabolism, and say good-bye to your gut.

If you’ve spent years just slightly overeating and exercising too little, your bloodstream will have been rich with sugar. Your body accommodated by pumping out extra insulin, the hormone that ushers excess blood sugar into fat cells, making them just a little plumper year by year.

 So that’s how you got your gut. Unfortunately, losing it is far more complicated, especially if you want to lose it quickly – say, in time for your cruise or that upcoming event.

 The usual advice of diet and exercise fails most would-be gut shrinkers for three reasons:

  1. Your excess insulin keeps you hungry. Your body has essentially been conditioned to keep eating more than you need. Dieting resolutions can’t change this fact. You need to lower your insulin levels to suppress your hunger, making it easier to eat less.
  2. Your chubby fat cells are releasing estrogen. Both guys and gals have estrogen – and too much of it gives guys “man boobs” and makes gals “hippy”. Excess estrogen also releases cortisol, the stress hormone made famous in late-night infomercials.
  3. Your excess cortisol creates havoc on your metabolism. It turns down your thyroid, making it harder to burn fat. The cortisol also increases your insulin levels, making you hungry. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle! 

That’s why you need serious intervention even for a mild case of rubber-tire-ism – in addition to diet and exercise.

Lower the insulin with foods and supplements that help lower and even out blood sugar levels. For example, eat less wheat (especially white bread), dairy and simple carbs (especially sugar). Take supplements that help regulate blood sugar, such as gymnema, Ashwaganda, chromium, green tea extract, American ginseng and milk thistle.

To reduce your estrogen, eat less beef and skip the fatty skin of chicken. Don’t microwave in plastics, which can release chemicals that act like estrogen in the body. The liver eliminates excess estrogen, so keep it healthy by taking milk thistle. Exercise lowers estrogen, too.

To counter cortisol, reduce your stress, and consider bolstering your thyroid function with supplements containing tyrosine, zinc and copper.

Finally, ask your healthcare practitioner to check your thyroid (TSH) and estrogen levels and address even mild dysfunction. At a minimum, check your own temperature. If it’s lower than 98.6 degrees, an underactive thyroid may be contributing to your gut. (See Thyroid under Self-Help Tests and Tools)

Guts don’t come easy, and they don’t go easy. But knowing what you’re up against can put you on the way to a six pack. Okay, at least a two pack.


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