Lower-belly fat, or love handles, is subcutaneous fat, which accumulates just under your skin. While women tend to store subcutaneous fat in their hips and thighs, which leads to a pear-shaped body, men battle love handles. Post-menopausal women also gain weight around their stomachs. Because of how your hormones function with regard to burning fat in particular areas of the body, love handles are especially difficult to shed.
The Role of Hormones
The use of body fat for energy is regulated by adrenoreceptors, which provide a binding site for a type of hormone called catecholamines. In order for your body to burn fat as fuel, catecholamines must bind to an adrenoreceptor located on the surface of a fat cell. However, there are different types of these receptors, which include two alpha and three beta adrenoreceptors, according to “Transformation: Unlock Your True Potential” by Eyad Yehyawi. If catecholamines bind to the alpha-1 receptor or the beta receptors, your fat cell releases the fatty acids that your body can then burn for energy. When catecholamines bind to an alpha-2 receptor, your fat cell is actually constrained from releasing fatty acids.
Location of Adrenoreceptors
When catecholamines bind to the beta receptors, there is a much higher rate of fat loss. Although the alpha-1 receptor does enable fat loss when bound with catecholamines, it does so at a lower rate than the beta receptors. The alpha-2 receptor, however, will not help you at all if you’re trying to shed fat. According to “Eat, Fast, Slim: The Life-Changing Fasting Diet for Amazing Weight Loss and Optimum Health” by Amanda Hamilton, there are nine times more alpha-2 receptors than beta receptors in a woman’s hips and thighs. Alpha-2 receptors are also concentrated in your love handles and belly, which is why it’s so difficult to lose the last few pounds in those areas, according to Yehyawi.
Catecholamines and Insulin
Produced naturally by your body, catecholamines curb the release of insulin, another hormone. In turn, your body’s ability to metabolize glucose, or sugar, depends on insulin, which enables glucose to enter your cells. If the calories you take in amount to more than the calories you burn, the glucose that enters your cells will be stored as fat. If catecholamines inhibit the release of insulin, your cells won’t take in as much glucose and therefore will not store as much unused glucose as fat.
Post-Menopausal Love Handles
Estrogen consists of three different molecules – estrone, estradiol and estriol – which have different functions, according to “The Perfect 10 Diet” by Michael Aziz. While your ovaries are responsible for creating estradiol, which contributes to a woman’s hourglass figure, body fat is the primary source of estrone. When you’re pregnant, your body makes a small amount of estriol. With the diminishment of your ovaries during menopause, the production of estradiol lowers. The dominance of estrone in your body causes a shift of fat from your hips to your abdomen. In turn, belly fat begins to make more estrone, which leads to even more fat. If you’re a post-menopausal woman, you’re not only dealing with more alpha-2 receptors but also an increased level of estrone in your belly fat.
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