The next time you look in the mirror feeling insecure about the marshmallow you are holding. Understand that the major population of the globe suffers from this and is not aware of the condition. Awareness is the key to the solution to this problem.
The Pannus stomach(1) is formed when the extra skin and fat deposits hang from the abdominal region. This could be the aftereffect of pregnancy or weight changes. The excess tissue could go sagging and cause what we call the apron belly or pannus stomach. It is a unisex problem, which means it affects men also who are overweight.
Stomach overhang is also called pannus stomach and apron stomach.
Causes Of Stomach Overhang
Stomach overhang could be due to a variety of reasons, which cause an excess of skin to hang down the abdomen.
The causes could be many, but the major reasons are:
The delivery of the child will cause the extra skin that formed due to the stretching of the stomach to sag and causes stomach overhang. This is the reason why the condition of a hanging stomach is also called a ‘mother’s apron’.
Weight loss causes excess skin to hang down from the abdominal area, causing stomach overhang. This is more so if there has been a drastic weight loss brought about by bariatric surgery or other means. Any weight-loss program that guarantees rapid results could lead to stomach overhang.
It is not just weight loss that brings about the pannus stomach. Stomach overhang can also be brought about by obesity, where the fat deposits can weigh down and cause the hanging of the stomach.
Obesity could be genetic or due to hormonal imbalances, lack of physical exercise, high-calorie foods, etc. Nobody can decide where the fat should accumulate. For some, the fat deposits faster around the midriff, thus causing the stomach overhang.
C- section also a reason for a hanging stomach also called a c- section ‘shelf’ or ‘pooch’. This is because the c- section scar creates a tight band-like effect at the bottom of the abdomen and forces the lax skin and muscles at the abdomen to hang over it.
Easing The Discomfort
Stomach overhang is an extremely uneasy and uncomfortable condition, which causes physical and emotional distress simultaneously. Stomach overhang also invites infections and could even cause ulcers. Hence, efforts should be put in to keep the area clean and free of moisture. The area has to be dried thoroughly after a bath or sweating.
Another fallout is chafing due to friction caused when the apron belly rubs against other areas of the skin. It is suggested that those who have a hanging stomach should apply anti-chafing cream to the area to ease the friction and discomfort.
The rubbing of the skin could cause inflammation, which could result in infections. Some use baby powder or anti-fungal powder to keep it dry so that it does not become a breeding ground for Candida and other microorganisms.
Stomach overhang could also bring with it a retinue of problems like many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It also indicates a higher baseline level of inflammation, which becomes dangerous when the body goes into a response mode to bacteria or viruses.
How Can You Reduce The Hanging Stomach?
Stomach overhang can be dealt with by non-surgical as well as surgical methods.
The non-surgical way to deal with the hanging of the stomach would be an overall reduction of body weight. There is no targeted treatment for the pannus stomach. Though you could try exercises to tone the belly area like crunches, plank pose, sit-ups, etc, you should go for dietary restrictions as well to bring yourself to the desired shape. Let’s have a deeper view of the non-surgical ways to reduce apron belly.
Have a close look at what you eat. Limit your sugar and carb intake. Eating fresh fruits and veggies will take care of your fiber intake. Try to avoid red meat and stick to lean meat like fish and chicken. The Mediterranean diet is a fad and a healthy way to reduce weight, followed by many around the world.
Also, avoid processed foods and fried items when you can. Choose a smaller plate, meaning reduce your portion size. Reducing your overall calorie intake will definitely help you reduce weight. Try to eat at home and avoid eating to fill your stomach.
Fasting and feasting will not help you reduce your pannus. It needs a regimented approach to reducing your overall calories. You could count your calories by keeping a food diary and by researching online. If you feel your pannus is debilitating, you should seek the advice of a nutritionist and follow the instructions as the calorie requirements of people differ.
It is common sense to follow a low-carb diet when you have a pannus stomach. High-carb foods like bread, pasta, legumes, etc should be avoided.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Sugar is the main culprit behind visceral fat that causes a hanging stomach. Hence, limiting processed sugar should help. It is common knowledge that foods like desserts, sugary treats, and beverages should be avoided. Added sugar will also tip in more calories.
Having more sugar can also lead to sugar level fluctuations, which can make you feel worn out and hungry thereby making you overeat. You should also bear in mind that the fruit juices that you gulp down after every workout, thinking it is healthy, have hidden sugar and do not contain the fiber that usually comes with the fruit. Such juices can cause a spike in the sugar levels in the blood.
Chuck these drinks rich in calories and sugar to replace them with fresh fruits.
Cut Down On Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbs are those in white bread, breakfast cereal, and cookies that convert into sugar and flood sugar into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the body. Reducing it can help in reducing fat, especially visceral fat.
Something as simple as cutting down on your alcohol can make your body thank you. Alcohol, with its calories, can stimulate your appetite to guzzle more food as it improves your appetite. It would be worse if cocktails infused with sugary drinks are gulped down even in moderation.
Home Cooked Food
Foods prepared at home will have lesser calories as you exert direct control over the number of sugars and oils you put in them. This is when you are determined to reduce your calories for the sake of the stomach overhang.
According to a UK study that took place in 2017, it was found out that people who had more than five homemade meals per week were 28 percent less likely to have a high body mass index than those who had lesser home-cooked meals.
They are also found to be 24 percent likely to carry less body fat than the others. The researchers also found out that those who had home-cooked meals consumed more fruits and vegetables than others.
2. Physical Activity
Aerobic exercises will help you burn calories faster than you think. It is better for people who cannot do complex exercises to go swimming or walking. Running, Zumba and Aerobics will fall in a higher range as it is high-intensity workouts, with higher results of course. Keeping yourself physically active through housework, gardening, and walking briskly or up the stairs will all help to burn calories fast.
Weight training also helps with calorie burning while resting, as people with higher muscle mass will burn more calories throughout the day. So building some muscles will reduce stomach overhang. The rationale behind this is that with strength training, fat will be replaced by muscles and as muscles are metabolically active, you will continue burning calories even after the workout.
Your metabolism will also get a boost due to muscle development which will help in shedding those unwanted weights. You should also focus on your whole body, as targeted exercises will not work for the pannus alone.
Overall reduction of weight and toning will help the hanging stomach. Exercises that are meant to tone the abdominal muscles are not for actually burning fat, as core exercises will help tone and strengthen the belly muscles.
Keeping yourself busy will also help reduce calories even as you are moving around doing your stuff. Prolonged sitting will help you only to gain more weight. This is a work hazard that has come with modern times and intellectual labor as you will be either working on your laptop or mobile while sitting at the desk, on the couch, chair, garden chair, bed, windowsill… so goes the list.
Investing yourself in a hobby that requires physical movement can help. You could track your level of physical activity through your phone or smartwatch and gauge how many calories you have burnt. There are apps to motivate you to be in shape. They keep giving you calorie and activity advice through phone notifications. If you can follow the gadget way, it also works to reduce stomach overhang.
Something simple as walking can help reduce the pannus stomach by helping to reduce the overall body weight. This is a good starter for those who have determined to starve the pannus.
A study published in the Journal of Exercise, nutrition, and biochemistry found that a walking program of fifty to seventy minutes three days in a week for twelve weeks brought about a significant reduction of abdominal fat in women.
Yoga has many asanas that can help with the hanging stomach. Some are Bujangasana (cobra pose), Naukasana (boat pose), Kumbhakasana ( plank pose), Ustrasasana (camel pose), and Dhanurasana (bow pose).
4. Trick The Body To Get Rid Of Stomach Overhang
You could try tricking your body by having more fiber to feel satiated. It is not necessary to have high calories or foods rich in fats to quell your hunger pangs. You could eat foods rich in fiber to give you the feeling of fullness. Fibrous foods like fruits, chia seeds, veggies, oats, etc. can provide you with enough fiber to trick you into feeling fuller.
A research study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that increasing the fiber intake itself led to weight loss for those who have a hard time following a strict diet. You could also have healthy fats in moderation. Having unsaturated fat from fatty fish, eggs, nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc. will help in increasing satiety and will not contribute to your bulk around the stomach.
Another thing about tricking your body is by swapping unhealthy foods with healthier ones. Say you want to have chips, you can have a crunchy alternative with chopped or roasted peanuts.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress eating is no myth. We all know that we have our favorite comfort foods that we bank on when we feel a lack of support and comfort. Stress makes us eat more, and that surely is going to add to the calories we wanted to avoid. The worst part is that we may not be even aware of our eating patterns and quantity while stressed.
Certain problems are pestering and you cannot find a solution straight away. This will make us resort to that bag of Lays or the chocolate ice cream smiling at you from the fridge. Hence, try meditation, spending time with family or friends, and other stress-relieving methods to reduce your craving for food that goes straight to your pannus.
6. Being Mindful
If you want to let go of your hanging stomach, you should take a closer look at your routines, sleep, eating patterns, and contents to find the unhealthy elements hidden in them. Decode their patterns and try to find remedies to rectify the unhealthy ways.
A good night’s sleep is a luxury many cannot have due to different factors. In a study done in the U.K., people who slept 5.5 hours or fewer per night were found to have invested an extra 385 calories when compared to those who slept for seven hours to twelve hours.
Sleeping very little can make you want those empty calories from fatty foods. Sleeping too much can also be bad health-wise. Hence, try to get adequate amounts of sleep every night. Adequate amounts of sleep do differ from person to person. But the general advice would be to get a shuteye for a full seven to eight hours.
Sex is also a good method to help you with your stomach overhang, as a great calorie-burning workout masked with pleasure. You won’t even know how many calories you can burn by having fun in bed. But with a stomach overhang, you may have to adopt some postures that are friendly to your comfort levels.
9. Comfort Clothing
Using support clothing or bands made exclusively for supporting the abdominal area and concealing the stomach overhang would also help in keeping the back firm and keeping back pains that are caused by the apron belly, at bay. This also helps prevent additional sagging of the skin around the belly.
10. Cool Sculpting
Those who do not want to opt for surgery could go in for cool sculpting, which involves the freezing of unwanted belly fat. It is a procedure that is least invasive.
11. Surgical Method
Surgical methods will make you pay through your nose as it will cost a fortune
But if money won’t pinch you in the wrong place, you could go for the surgical method. The process is named panniculectomy, as it removes the pannus. It removes the extra fat and skin which sags and gives you an apron belly. This can be combined with a tummy tuck or another procedure, as panniculectomy will not tighten the abdominal muscles. Panniculectomy would be covered by most health insurance as it is not a cosmetic procedure. But there should not be any health conditions that make you not suitable for surgery.
Bodytite is a minimally invasive body contouring method using advanced technology known as radio frequency-assisted lipolysis. Excess fat is removed and the skin is tightened through this process. This process has a short recovery period and hence a convenient body contouring method.
Taking efforts to reduce your stomach is a great leap of self-love. Stomach overhang is not an irreversible condition. With sincere efforts, you can emerge victor with a flatter belly. But do not get drifted by body shaming and negative comments.
Reducing your tummy is an act of self-love. Do it for yourself only.♥️