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The truth about tummy fat – and how to get rid of it

Tummy fat is one of females biggest insecurities about their bodies, especially after pregnancy, so we talk to Karen Loke of Restoring Mums who gives us her tips on how to get your belly back after baby – and there are no sit-ups involved!

Can abdominal massage get rid of tummy fat?
Can abdominal massage get rid of tummy fat?

When we think of tummy fat, we generally think of subcutaneous fat that is visible just below the skin’s surface. In fact, the appearance of a larger waist is often due to visceral fat that is deposited much deeper within the body, and lies around your internal organs (which means it’s not only unsightly, but unhealthy too). Visceral fat often pushes your skin layer out further, making your tummy “stick out”.

Questions I face more often than others are: “Why do I put on so much tummy fat during pregnancy?” and “Can abdominal massage get rid of tummy fat?” Few women bid farewell to pregnancy with a perfectly flat stomach. As well as making room for your growing baby, tummy fat is a by-product of three main factors:

#1 Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes fat gain around the midriff so that the skin is able to stretch more easily as the baby increases in size, and so that your little one is adequately protected from the outside world.

#2 Hormones: Pregnancy hormones including oestrogen cause an expectant mum to store fat around her tummy and thighs in preparation for breastfeeding.

#3 Genetics: If your mum put on a lot of weight during her pregnancy with you, chances are you will too. Some women are automatically prone to storing more fat than others – unfortunately it’s just the luck of the draw.

Other factors that may contribute to a new mum’s waistline include diet, exercise and stress – the cortisol hormone released during stress causes excess fat to be stored around the stomach area. In my experience, the longer a mum retains her post-natal tummy, the more difficult it is to lose it.

The Good News

Most women gain tummy fat during pregnancy, but abdominal massage in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise plan can help disperse it quickly and safely. If you’re still a little larger around your belly than you’d like to be post-pregnancy, don’t worry – abdominal massage provides an easy solution.

A recent Korean study noted that abdominal massage with specific essential oils reduced belly fat in a group of post-menopausal women. The group experienced a loss of both abdominal subcutaneous fat and overall waist circumference, and body image was significantly better after the trial too. While this research relates to post-menopausal women, I have found the same results to be true with younger women using my traditional Jamu massage techniques. Our slimum treatment is also highly relaxing with the added benefit that massage helps reduce cortisol levels.

In addition to abdominal massage, I would always recommend you follow all your health professionals’ recommendations to lose weight after giving birth, whether that entails dietary changes or joining a gym.

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Looking for more tips? We’ve got a great article on pregnancy and postnatal fitness with health tips, pilates, yoga and more to get your prenatal body back.