Muffin-top. Pot-belly. Beer belly. Apple-shaped. Spare tire. Whatever you want to call it, belly fat is always up to no good. Whether it’s making our clothes too tight, rolling over our pants, or making us self-conscious, belly fat is a common enemy. Most people who have belly fat want to get rid of it for appearance reasons, but did you know there are some important health-based reasons to reduce your mid-section?
You may have heard before that abdominal or belly fat is dangerous, but do you know why? In this post we’ll discuss the dangers of this type of fat and ways to shrink your waistline!
Why Belly Fat is Dangerous
When we talk about dangerous belly fat, we’re referring to a specific type called visceral fat. It’s located deep inside the abdomen, and surrounds your muscles, and organs like the pancreas, liver, heart, and intestines. You may have subcutaneous fat, which is the fat that you can pinch and sits just underneath your skin. This isn’t as dangerous, but if you have this outer fat, it’s almost guaranteed you have visceral fat around your organs.
Research has shown visceral fat is a highly productive chemical factory that produces certain inflammatory proteins. This inflammation is directly linked with both Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes because it can damage blood vessel walls. This leads to plaque buildup, high blood pressure, increased risk of blood clotting, and heart attack and stroke.
This belly fat has been linked with insulin sensitivity, Sleep Apnea, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and certain cancers. We may be more concerned with what rolls over our pants, but research indicates we should be more concerned with the fat we can’t see.
How to Tell if You Have Visceral Fat
Unfortunately, an MRI is the best way. And since that’s not very practical or affordable, we’ll settle for waist measurements. While any amount of visceral fat will negatively affect your health, doctors are most concerned with women whose waists are greater than 35 inches, and men whose waists are greater than 40 inches. If you exceed these limitations, it’s time to start some new habits!
How to Lose Belly Fat
I’m about to shock you with what I’m going to say here! Oh wait, no I’m not. It’s the same thing you’ve been hearing since middle school health and PE: exercise regularly and eat right. Specifically, a mixture of weight training and cardio are effective at targeting this belly fat (although you can’t exactly spot-reduce fat). There’s also conflicting research on whether High Intensity Interval Training reduces belly fat.
Don’t fret- your time shaking your thang at Zumba, logging miles on the treadmill, or lifting those weights is not wasted! Here’s a list of what you can do to decrease visceral fat and increase your overall health:
- Cut sugar out of your diet (or take steps to reduce)
- Cut processed carbs and grains out of your diet (or reduce)
- Limit alcohol intake
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Quit smoking
- Reduce stress
- Eat plenty of lean protein, veggies, and fruits
- Exercise regularly
If that seems overwhelming or you aren’t sure where to start, just pick one and go from there. Find a friend to tackle this with you and get some accountability. Try strength training for your exercise. It’s been shown to reduce blood pressure for 10-12 hours after a single session. It also plays a specific role in decreasing visceral fat and preventing against the diseases associated with it. The best part is just a single bout of strength training can improve insulin sensitivity! It’s definitely the biggest bang for your buck.
If you feel like you’re already doing all of those things, check your fat ratios. Saturated fats need to be balanced out with unsaturated fats, and omega-6 fats need to be balanced with omega-3 fats. Try to decrease your sodium levels if you’re consuming too much. Try to eat more fiber as well. Track your calories and measure out your portions- most people overestimate how much they burn and underestimate how much they consume. Finally, if you’re a Mama, check to make sure you don’t have Diastasis Recti, where your abs separate during pregnancy. Your belly will always seem bigger until that’s fixed.
I Can Help You!
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results you want right away. Trust that your hard work will pay off, and that you are making yourself healthier each time. You are worth it.
I would love to be a part of your journey towards a healthier life. The Fit Tutor teaches women how to strength train with instructional videos combined for effective workouts. We have modifications for every level of exerciser, and I can help guide you in your quest for better food choices as well. It’s like having a personal trainer in your home, and it never hurts to have someone in your corner, cheering you on along the way! [A 2 week FREE trial doesn’t hurt either…]
You were made to be more than a statistic. You have a great calling on your life, and this world needs you healthy. Start today! I believe in you!
Comment with any questions! :)
- NYU Medical Center: The Dangers of Hidden Fat
- Precision Nutrition: Location, location, location!
- WebMD: The Truth About Fat
- Dr Mercola: Many Ignorant of Waist Fat Risk
- Diabetes.co.UK: Visceral Fat
- For you visual/auditory people, here’s a great video from The Doctor’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Health.com: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Fat
Of course, check with your doctor if you are overweight and/or thinking about starting an exercise plan!