Category : health , 2 years ago
Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs. That's normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fat doesn't. Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. It's that deeper fat -- called "visceral" fat -- that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.
Visceral Fat (Active Fat): Visceral fat is body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines.
Visceral fat is sometimes referred to as 'active fat' because research has shown that this type of fat plays a distinctive and potentially dangerous role affecting how our hormones function.
Storing higher amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health problems including type 2 diabetes.
What types of fat do we store? It is important to define the difference between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the fat that we store just under our skin. The fat we may be able to feel on our arms and legs is subcutaneous fat.
A growing belly can be the result of both types of fat. The fat we can feel just under the skin is subcutaneous fat but we may also be storing significant extra fat within our abdomen where our organs reside. This intra-abdominal fat is our visceral fat.
What are the health risks associated with visceral fat? All of us will have a certain amount of visceral fat. It provides cushioning around your organs. But those of us with a larger quantity of visceral fat may be exposed to increased risks of the following health conditions.
If you gain too much weight, your body starts to store your fat in unusual places. With increasing obesity, you have people whose regular areas to store fat are so full that the fat is deposited into the organs and around the heart.
How Much Belly Fat Do You Have? The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there's a much simpler, low-cost way to check.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you're standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health's sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you're a woman and less than 40 inches if you're a man.
There are four keys to controlling belly fat: exercise, diet, sleep, and stress management.
To get the same results in half the time, step up your pace and get vigorous exercise -- like jogging or walking. You'd need to do that for 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week.
Jog, if you're already fit, or walk briskly at an incline on a treadmill if you're not ready for jogging. Vigorous workouts on stationary bikes and elliptical or rowing machines are also effective.
Moderate activity -- raising your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week -- also helps. It slows down how much visceral fat you gain. But to torch visceral fat, your workouts may need to be stepped up.
If you are not active now, it's a good idea to check with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program.
2. Diet: There is no magic diet for belly fat. But when you lose weight on any diet, belly fat usually goes first. Getting enough fiber can help. Research shows that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day -- without any other diet changes -- build up less visceral fat over time than others. That’s as simple as eating two small apples, a cup of green peas, or a half-cup of pinto beans.
Even if you kept everything else the same but switched to a higher-fiber bread, you might be able to better maintain your weight over time.
3. Sleep: Getting the right amount of shut-eye helps. In one study, people who got 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night gained less visceral fat over 5 years compared to those who slept 5 or fewer hours per night or 8 or more hours per night. Sleep may not have been the only thing that mattered -- but it was part of the picture.
4. Stress: Everyone has stress. How you handle it matters. The best things you can do include relaxing with friends and family, meditating, exercising to blow off steam, and getting counseling. That leaves you healthier and better prepared to make good choices for yourself.
Exercise probably has the most immediate benefits, because it reduces both obesity and stress.