Most of us know that accumulating fat anywhere on our bodies isn’t great for our health.
But, excess fat in some areas can truly spell disaster!
Belly fat, especially the kind that you can’t see, dwelling deep below the surface of your skin, can wreak havoc on your health and may be inching you closer and closer to disease, or worse…death.
So, what is this type of fat that you can’t see? And, why is it that belly fat can be so much worse than fat in other areas of your body?
And, better yet…how can you get rid of it?
Subcutaneous Belly Fat Vs Visceral Belly Fat
Subcutaneous belly fat is the most visible kind of fat. It is the pinchable, soft criminal at large, responsible for the unwanted “jiggly” areas of your belly.
Found within the layer of tissue between your skin and muscles, this type of fat makes up the greatest amount of fat found in the body (nearly 90%).
And ladies, unfortunately you’re naturally inclined to have more subcutaneous fat than men.
Some amounts of subcutaneous fat may be beneficial, as this type of fat cell produces molecules that scientists believe could potentially provide a level of protection in regards to some diseases (referred to as the ectopic fat hypothesis).
But, though this type of surface level fat isn’t as closely linked to an increased risk of disease, too much overall fat of any kind (including subcutaneous fat and visceral fat) can contribute to chronic inflammation and disease.
Visceral belly fat is often referred to as invisible fat.
Unlike subcutaneous fat tissue, this type of fat cannot be pinched or “seen” as it lies deep within your abdomen under both skin and muscle tissue.
Though only making up roughly 10% of fat tissue, visceral fat is a more alarming type of fat as it is located near and around your internal organs such as your stomach and intestines.
Why is the location of this fat so alarming?
Visceral abdominal fat is known to produce toxins that interfere with healthy body function.
Specifically, visceral fat produces proteins called cytokines which, normally, work by helping your cells communicate with one another, especially in immune responses.
Essentially, visceral abdominal fat tissue produces an abundance of cytokines when and where they normally would not be needed, leading to low-level inflammation.
And, when your body experiences these levels of inflammation all the time, due to the visceral fat that has taken up residence within the spaces surrounding your internal organs, this chronic inflammation leads to disease.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply assess the amount of visceral fat you have by glancing in the mirror or judge these amounts by how well your jeans fit.
While a doctor’s visit would be in order to exactly measure visceral fat, it is important to know-
- Men are more prone to accumulate visceral fat than women.
- Not matter your sex, if you spend a lot of time sitting, you are at a greater risk of accumulating visceral fat.
- You are at risk of accumulating both visceral fat and too much subcutaneous fat if you do not regularly exercise or have very little muscle mass.
- If you consume more calories than you burn, you are at risk of visceral fat accumulation.
- Diabetics and those with insulin resistance are prone to excess visceral fat building up in their abdomen.
The risks associated with having too much overall fat are great, but with visceral fat, the invisibility of this type of fat is equally as dangerous as its effects.
We can easily be lulled into a false sense of “my clothes fit fine and I don’t have a lot of jiggly fat, therefore I’m healthy,” when it comes to visceral fat.
The thing is…
- even if you’re not “too overweight”
- even if your BMI is in the normal range
- and, even if you currently “feel okay”
…if you find yourself checking ‘yes’ to even a few of those five points listed at the end of the section above, you are at an increased risk of accumulating visceral fat and therefore increasing your risk of disease.
The inflammation caused by visceral belly fat can lead to a narrowing of your arteries (increasing blood pressure and your risk of clots), it disrupts how your body breaks down fats and sugars, and it can increase the production of bad cholesterol.
Visceral fat is linked to:
- heart disease
- insulin resistance and diabetes
- various cancers such as colorectal and breast
- non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
If you find yourself shopping for new pants due to weight gain in your abdomen, you are most likely at risk of those diseases and health concerns associated with visceral belly fat.
For men, if your waist measures 40 inches or more, and for women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more, means it’s time to take action.
And, though visceral fat is the primary culprit in the cause for concern when referring to these diseases and detriments, remember, accumulating too much body fat (both subcutaneous and visceral) is risky business!!
So, what can you do to lose the belly bulge, both visible and invisible?
How To Lose Belly Fat
Losing belly fat is a battle best fought on multiple fronts.
Making even small changes in many areas can have great benefits. Then, build up those small changes over time, and you’re setting yourself up for long term belly fat burning success!
Move Your Body
Remember when we mentioned the risk of inactivity to accumulating visceral belly fat?
Well, the solution to that problem is simple…move!
If your job, or a health condition, has you living a sedentary lifestyle, it is imperative that you find time and ways to incorporate physical activity.
Start by taking a few short walks within your day, then build up to greater amounts of time spent moving as well as incorporating other ways to move as well.
Seek to include both low and high intensity aerobic activity, and don’t forget to incorporate resistance training into your regimen as well. Each of these are proven to reduce belly fat, therefore improving your overall health.
Get Your Zzzz’s
Sleep is crucial in the fight against belly fat, especially visceral belly fat.
Even the quality of the sleep you get can cause you to accumulate visceral belly fat (poor quality sleep).
And, lack of sleep can contribute to an increase in levels of hormones that can cause hunger, and a decrease in hormone levels that are known to signal fullness, both contributing to gains in belly fat.
What you eat can both hinder and help your waistline, subsequently making or breaking belly bulge. Consider adding or subtracting the following from your diet:
- Ditch alcohol or only consume it in moderation as alcohol contributes specifically to the accumulation of excess belly fat.
- Eat more fiber. Studies show that those people who consume a high fiber diet have less belly fat.
- Eat plenty of protein. High protein diets are known to aid in the reduction of belly fat.
- Throw those processed foods in the trash! Fast foods, sweets, ultra-processed snacks, and refined grains are proven to cause an increase in waist circumference. In other words, these items can cause an increase in disease causing belly fat.
- Cut out the sugary drinks! Sugary drinks like some fruit juices (think artificial juices) and sodas have been linked to an accumulation of visceral belly fat. Seek to switch out such drinks for healthier options like water infused with fresh fruits and vegetables or sparkling water.
- Eat plenty of whole foods. Swap out processed foods for nutritious whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and healthy proteins as these can help reduce belly fat and contribute to the health of your entire body.
Sprinkle this over your food to burn fat
A couple of years ago there was a discovery that has since been helping women literally burn fat away by using an ingredient that is in nearly every pantry.
Recent studies from University of Maryland School of Medicine are now showing that this simple ingredient can burn fat in the stubborn gut area.
Not only is this healthy, but it is completely pain-free and recommended by doctors and nutrition experts.
To show you how great it works, check out this awesome success story: “I burned away 11 pounds immediately by sprinkling a bit of it over my breakfast!”