What exactly is belly fat? Well, it is the fat right around your belly. Plain and simple… right? Not exactly. There are actually a few different kinds of fat. There is the fat found right under the skin (subcutaneous) and then there is the deep belly fat that surrounds your organs (visceral).
Visceral Belly Fat
This is the more dangerous of the two fats and is much more difficult to identify. This fat can lead to health complications such as type two diabetes, liver problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and an increased risk in developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. What makes it difficult to identify is the fact that no matter whether you are a size 00 or 100, you can have too much of it. The build up of this fat is primarily influenced by genetics and hormones. People who are more likely to store this type of fat are often referred to as “apple shaped”.
What can we do to manage the build up of visceral fats?
- Limit the amount of refined carbohydrates. Swap your white flour and breads for whole wheat and whole grain.
- Reduce your refined sugar intake. Try and get most (if not all) of your sugar from fruits.
- Reduce the amount of trans fat you consume.
- Aim for 30-60 minutes of cardio each day. Whether it be walking, running, biking, swimming, etc. just get moving.
- Sleep! It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours a night. Getting enough sleep helps prevent and reduce the buildup of visceral fat.
Subcutaneous Belly Fat
Typically, this is the kind of fat that most people want to get rid of on their bellies. It is found in the layer between our skin and our abdominal muscles. Although it is much less dangerous that visceral fat, it can be much more difficult to get rid of. Subcutaneous fat is stored when extra calories are influenced by cortisol and insulin (learn more about Why A Calorie Isn’t Just A Calorie (in simple-ish English)). Again, the buildup of this fat is primarily influenced by genetics and hormones. People who are more likely to store this type of fat are often referred to as being “pear shaped”.
Despite the fact that subcutaneous fat is less dangerous than visceral fat, recent studies are suggesting that a buildup of it around abdomen can also cause health complications. So, what can we do to manage the buildup of subcutaneous fat?
- Reduce or eliminate trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are found in processed foods and partially hydrogenated oils.
- Reduce or eliminate foods sweetened with fructose.
- Exercise. It doesn’t matter if it is weight lifting or cardio, just get moving!
- Reduce your stress levels. Excess stress levels can cause hormone imbalances which promote fat buildup around the abdomen.
The Take Away?
Regardless of whether you are more prone to visceral or subcutaneous fat buildup, it can all be managed through a fit and healthy lifestyle. If you are just beginning your journey to becoming healthy and are wanting to learn more, check out these articles:
Not sure about some of the information I provided? Here are my sources: