If you have a round mound around the middle, it might have less to do with a lack of planks and crunches in your workout and more to do with your lineage. That’s because the apple–or more specifically, the apple-shaped body–doesn’t fall far from the family tree. If mom, dad, or another branch above is (or was) prone to belly bulge, it’s possible your body will follow shape.
You can thank genetics. While genes may have blessed you with gorgeous green eyes, smooth, olive skin, or naturally curly hair, it could also predispose you to pack on paunch pounds.
Belly Fat Research
Five genes were discovered in 2014 as being linked to an increased waist-to-height ratio (WHR), according to the study findings published in Human Molecular Genetics. Based on the analysis of 57,000 people of European descent, three genes were associated with increased WHR in males and females, and two additional genes were found to only affect females.
That’s not to say that if you don’t have these genes you’re free to binge on ice cream and candy while you Netflix and chill without worry. Belly fat can still form if your eating and exercise aren’t on point. However, if you do have these genes, you might notice that any weight gained seemingly goes straight to your gut, and that fat loss will be trickier when the target is your midsection.
On the plus side, understanding these genes and how their interaction with other proteins affect abdominal fat could provide benefits to the medicine field in the future.
Why is Belly Fat Bad?
Shedding a flabby stomach in time for summer may be a priority, but belly fat goes beyond looks and can be harmful to your health. All fat is not the same, and that which you carry around your middle–called “visceral fat”–creates toxins that can lead to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Belly fat doesn’t just apply to the morbidly obese or those seriously unhealthy. If your waist (the area measuring right around your belly button) is 35 inches (40 inches for men) or higher, you could be at risk. And the plan of attack is to move more and clean up your eating, filling your diet with properly portioned servings of whole foods, such as lean proteins and fresh produce.
Fat is Not Fate
If find you are a victim of these abdominal-fat marked genes, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to life with a big belly. Most people have trouble spots on their body they find are harder to slim down, tone up, or build muscle. Yours just so happens to be your midsection. And heck, even without those genes, abdominal fat may still be what you have to work hardest at to lose.
No matter what your body’s genetic predisposition is, the important thing to remember is that your are in control of your body shape’s destiny. It’s all about the daily actions you make, be it what you eat, how you exercise, or how much sleep you get. If you’re not seeing the results you’re after, don’t throw in the towel and blame it on your genetic destiny. Instead enlist the help of a trainer or nutritionist–or even just a friend with health smarts. With some trial and error, you’ll find your way to the flat belly you’ve always wanted, genes or no genes.