When people want to reduce belly fat, it’s not only for the sake of looking attractive but also that the visceral abdominal fat can be dangerous.
Though fat is stored all over your body, but an expanding waistline carries higher risk for chronic illness!
Types Of Fat
The two primary types of fat are:
(i) Subcutaneous: This type is mostly located on the parts of our bodies other than belly such as arms, legs, and buttocks.
(ii) Visceral: This type is mostly stored as belly fat.
Note: Our body’s fat impacts our health differently depending on where it’s stored. In other words subcutaneous and visceral affect our health differently.
Subcutaneous Versus Visceral
Subcutaneous fat is the pinchable, squishy fat stored directly below your skin (between your skin and muscle). It helps keep you warm, cushions you against shock, and stores extra calories. It’s pinchable and you can feel it by “pinching an inch” from your belly, arms, thighs or just about anywhere else on your body.
Visceral fat stores calories too, but is not pinchable as it’s stored in and around your internal organs in your abdominal region, including your liver, pancreas and intestines. It’s hidden deep within the belly region, which makes it firm (rather than squishy) when you press it. So, it’s much harder to identify.
Which Of The Two Is More Dangerous?
Fat doesn’t just store calories—it’s a living tissue capable of producing and emancipating hormones that impact your other organs. Too much visceral fat can obstruct your liver functions and disturb normal hormonal communications between your vital organs. This can cause insulin resistance (the beginning of diabetes), raise LDL (a.k.a. “bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure – resulting in to a higher risk for developing heart disease.
How To Find Out If You Are At Risk? - Visceral Fat Measurement
Although you’re thin, yet you can have visceral fat around the abdominal region. Being “skinny” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy.
The only method to ascertain whether you are exceeding the safe visceral fat level is to have an MRI or CT-scan, which are both expensive and often not medically necessary. However, there are some indicators that can give you a rough idea of what your visceral stores are. Try these broad thumb rules to figure out where your belly stands:
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association:
(i) Waist Circumference: Feel for the top of your hip-bone (it’s at the same level as the top of your belly button) and measure your waistline around this point. Make sure to relax and don’t suck in your gut (be honest!). Take 2-3 measurements and calculate the average. If you have a waistline larger than 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 35 inches (89 cm) for women that’s an indicator that probably you are carrying too much belly fat, even if you have a relatively healthy weight and generally in good health.
(ii) Apples And Pears: You must be wondering! “What does fruit have to do with it?” Visualize these two fruits to get a quick idea of where most of the fat is stored on your body. Whereas the “Pears” store most fat in the lower extremities (hips, thighs, buttocks) as subcutaneous fat, the “Apples” store most fat in the upper region (belly, chest) as visceral fat. This is the quickest trick, but is an imperfect method to tell these two fats apart.
(iii) Waist-To-Hip Ratio (WHR): In this method takes the circumference of your waist (refer above) and divide it by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, stand in front of a mirror then measure the circumference around the widest part of your butt. The formula is WHR = (Waist circumference) / (Hip circumference). The thumb rule is: Whereas the men should not have a WHR of more than 1, the women should not have a WHR of more than 0.8.
Best Ways To Lose Visceral Fat
If your stats fall with in the above parameters, that’s good! If your visceral fat is exceeding the recommended level, don’t get disheartened. I will tell you the ways to stop & get rid of the accumulation of this dangerous fat. Lifestyle changes including diet & exercise can help burn visceral fat and lower your risk factors for developing heart disease and diabetes.
Note: However, there are certain tricks that you need to follow while exercising in order to lose visceral fat. Read on to learn these tricks.
Just Fitness Tip: Remember you can’t forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly no matter how many crunches you do. The next best thing is to live a healthy lifestyle and practice the following guidelines:
Increase The Amount And Intensity Of Your Exercise
In order to get rid of visceral fat, high intensity interval training will benefit you the most – whether you’re trying to get fit or lose weight. Exercising at a constant pace is least effective for visceral fat removal.
Interval walking is one of the most convenient exercises. For this you don’t require any special equipment and can perform it anywhere. For example walk briskly for three minutes then slowly for three minutes, and repeat this process for one hour
To my clients I usually recommend weight training with only short periods of rest between sets (less than one minute). It’s one of the best all-around exercises. The anaerobic characteristic of weightlifting causes muscles to fatigue rapidly.
In my opinion, exercising first thing in the morning before breakfast can make a huge difference. Especially don’t eat carbohydrates prior to exercising. If you exercise with your belly full of carbohydrates (or one of the high-carb energy drinks in your hand), your body will tend to consume that for energy and never need to burn any extra body fat or glycogen stores. I suggest my clients to exercise immediately after a morning protein shake. Protein and fat take longer to digest, and when consumed immediately before you exercise, they won’t get into the system fast enough to be used as the primary source of energy. After about 45 minutes to an hour of hard workout, protein will start to be available for muscle repair and growth.
Eat A Well-Balanced Diet
Your diet should contain lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, whole grains and complex carbohydrates such as beans, lentils and sprouted grains for energy and fiber.
Try to eliminate harmful trans fats altogether.
Consider cooking with olive, canola, peanut, safflower or sesame oils (but in moderation) because they contain monounsaturated fats, the “good fats”.
You can also use healthy vegetable oils for cooking like coconut, sunflower, olive, avocado and grape seed oils – but again in moderation.
Avoid eating added sugar and drinking alcohol since they are more likely end up as visceral fat.
Sleep More And De-Stress
Sleep loss and stress can torpedo your health and fitness goals. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and take time to de-stress. Researchers have found that the stress hormone, cortisol, significantly increases the storage of visceral fat. So do some deep breathing or yoga or take a bath or quick walk.
Follow Healthy Lifestyle Habits
In order to flatten your belly and improve your overall health, stop smoking, drinking, being inactive and eating high-fat, processed foods. Choosing healthier lifestyle choices will improve your quality of life and will show up in inches lost from your waistline.
Do you know any other trick to lose visceral fat? Please share your tricks with us under the comments section below.