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Health and Fitness News

All About Belly Fat

Why that fat around your middle is so dangerous.

Everyone has some amount of body fat. In fact, your body needs a little bit of fat to function. However, there are a lot of people carrying around too much. If you’re one of them, you should be concerned.

Some people, especially women, carry extra fat around their hips and thighs. They’re considered “pear-shaped.” But for others, fat accumulates around their middle. They take on an apple shape that can be dangerous. If you’d call yourself an apple, listen up!

Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is especially harmful to your health. So if you’ve got some extra pounds in your belly, you need to take steps to lose it. Here’s why.

Why Is It So Bad?

Fat that surrounds your vital internal organs is known to increase your risk for serious health conditions. That’s because visceral fat is an “active” type of fat. This means it doesn’t just add cushion and make it hard to button your pants.

Rather, it’s affecting your health. It does this by influencing hormones and making proteins that lead to inflammation.

The more visceral fat you have, the greater your risk. Common health conditions associated with visceral fat include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Insulin resistance
  • Low HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Is Too Much?

Some people have a flat stomach, yet still have a lot of visceral fat. For others, the fat is easy to see. Knowing how much you have can be tricky. In fact, without an MRI or CT scan, there’s no way to know for sure how much visceral fat you have hiding inside. An easier, cheaper way to figure out how much you’ve got is to measure your waist with a tape measure.

Without sucking in, find the distance around your waist at your belly button. In general, women with a waist of 35 inches or more and men whose waist is greater than 40 inches have excessive visceral fat. For those whose waist meets this criteria, take steps to reduce your belly fat.

What Should You Do About It?

The good news is there are ways to decrease the amount of visceral fat you have and therefore lower your risk of disease. No, it’s not a special supplement or green tea. Weight loss through diet and exercise is the best remedy for banishing any type of body fat. This includes visceral fat.

Try as you might, you can’t spot-reduce fatty trouble areas on your body. So if you think 1,000 crunches a day will do the trick, think again. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise five days a week. Cardio gets your heart rate elevated and burns calories. But cardio isn’t all you need. Include strength-training exercises to build and strengthen muscle, which burns even more fat.

Diet is your second weapon against belly fat. Consuming fewer calories than you burn is the best way to lose weight. Create a calorie deficit by burning more calories through exercise. When it’s meal time, fill up on lean protein such as poultry, fish, and eggs; high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds; and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains.

Remember that certain foods are associated with a greater risk of visceral fat. Cut them out of your diet! Major culprits have added sugars or have been sweetened with fructose or high fructose corn syrup. This includes sodas, baked goods, candy, fast food, yogurt, and salad dressings.