Every summer I see many of my clients scrambling to get their beach bod back. There might be some people trying to bulk up and have bulging muscles, but most people are trying to trim down their belly fat that tends to appear during our hibernating winter months.
Did you know that belly fat is different than the fat that lies just beneath the skin? Belly fat, or visceral fat covers the stomach muscle, which covers the entire midsection of your body and connects to the pelvis.
Visceral fat extends deep into your abdomen, stopping short of your internal organs, such as your stomach, liver and heart. Visceral fat can be dangerous because it is composed of large fat cells that can grow large and pack into spaces between the internal organs. Naturally, this can have severe effects on your health.
Belly fat isn’t an absolute negative. We need belly fat to cushion our internal organs. It isn’t just overweight people who have belly fat, thin people do as well. If the cells are not rapidly expanding, the belly fat serves its intended purpose.
There are several ways belly fat develops, but most of them relate to diet and lifestyle (exercise and activity level). Don’t hate the messenger but… Excessive consumption of sugary foods, such as candies and other sweets, and heavily processed foods and carbohydrates lead to belly fat.
These foods are not able to be processed by the liver, and thus are stored in the fat cells. Heavy alcohol consumption also a contributor to excess belly fat. Finally, inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity, which can lead to the fat cells expanding at an alarming rate.
Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are ways to combat a buildup of dangerous visceral fat, but what if there is more? Research has also implicated a far more insidious culprit in the development of dangerous belly fat is related to hormonal imbalance. Two of the hormones involved in this process are cortisol and estrogen. I’m sure estrogen is something many of you are familiar with. An excess of estrogen has been linked to excess belly fat.
However, what many of you may not know, is that studies have shown that estrogen affects women and men. In men, an increase in belly fat results in an increase in the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, and as the presence of estrogen increases, the belly fat increase.
Too much belly fat spells bad news. The American Diabetes Association found that belly fat produces toxins—chemicals called cytokines—which increase your risk of heart disease and make your system less responsive to insulin, which could lead to the development of diabetes.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Belly fat has been implicated in what the Massachusetts General Hospital calls a five-component metabolic syndrome that puts you at risk for stroke, heart disease, dementia, depression, high blood pressure and a buildup of bad cholesterol.
This isn’t all doom and gloom. I wouldn’t just list off a bunch of scary things with no bright side. The great thing about all this, is that there are ways to combat and reduce belly fat.
Here are five way to help you fight off the belly fat:
#5 Drink Less Alcohol
Not only can excess belly fat be detrimental to your health, but we all know how belly fat can be detrimental to your self-confidence. We all come in different shapes and sizes. As I stated earlier, belly fat serves a purpose. You just need to make sure the fat is healthy, and not excessive.