Okay, so when you hear “belly fat”, what do you think? The obvious terms come to mind like it’s unhealthy and stubborn to lose. It is unhealthy, but not as stubborn to lose as one may assume. It’s important to understand the type of fat that belly fat is, why it is unhealthy and of course how to get rid of it.
First let me stop right here and tell you that crunches and sit-ups alone will not get rid of belly fat. You can’t spot reduce fat. With fat loss, there is an overall loss of fat throughout the body.
Next, let me say that not all fat is the same. There is subcutaneous fat which is under the skin, you know like the type of fat you can pinch and jiggle. Then there’s visceral fat.
In this article I will explain what visceral fat is, why it’s unhealthy, some causes including medications, and ways to get rid of it and keep it gone.
We understand that there must be a lifestyle change of proper nutrition and exercise, but why? And how? If this interests you, then keep reading.
Visceral fat gets stored under the muscle in the abdominal area and can become a health risk. In that space it crowds important organs like the liver, pancreas, and intestines. It causes that “bulge”, “pot belly” or “beer belly” appearance. You need an understanding of the health risks visceral fat poses and knowledge of how to create a lifestyle that includes healthy nutrition in combination with a proper exercise routine to not only decrease the belly fat, but keep it off.
If you need help getting started with exercise, here is a free body weight routine for beginners.
Why a lifestyle change?
Well, have you ever wondered what happens when you lose fat? Where does it go? Fat cells expand and shrink. Through unhealthy eating habits you can increase your number of fat cells and they expand when not used up for energy.
During weight loss, the fat cells shrink in size. However, the quantity remains the same and that ability to expand is still there. In other words, you can lose the fat but you must continue the healthy eating and exercise as a lifetime goal to keep it off.
To get an idea of your belly fat status, measure your own waistline. Get a flexible tape measure and measure around the belly at the navel. Don’t cheat! No sucking it in here or pulling the tape too tightly.
If women are 35 inches or over and men 40 inches or over, then that is a sign of excess belly fat. The thing about visceral fat is that contrary to popular belief it’s not a blob of substance that just sits there. It has harmful activity.
Visceral fat secretes chemicals that cause increased inflammation throughout the body. It decreases cardiovascular function, and it increases blood pressure and cholesterol. These ill effects have a high risk of causing heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and joint pain just to name a few.
Insulin transports glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into cells. With insulin resistance the body does not react to insulin well and the blood sugar level increases. Type 2 diabetes could occur or worsen due to the insulin resistance resulting from visceral fat.
Per the Mayo Clinic, insulin resistance is very common with the U.S. reporting over 3 million cases per year and weight loss and exercise can help reverse this condition. As a pharmacist the first thing I’m thinking is how to help you manage medications for each of these conditions and their side effects. My goal would be to prevent you from being on medications or help you get off them through lifestyle changes. It’s a great thing there are some remedies!
Causes of visceral fat accumulation:
There are a few culprits. Mainly a sedentary lifestyle, hormones, poor nutrition, medications, and genetics.
Medications: Certain medications may influence weight gain which may lead to increased belly fat. Some common examples include antidepressants, diabetes medications, beta blockers, migraine treatments and corticosteroids.
Have you identified a potential cycle yet? Sedentary lifestyle –> increased belly fat –> multiple chronic diseases –> medications to treat those multiple chronic diseases –> weight gain from the medications used to treat those diseases which more than likely leads us right back to a sedentary lifestyle.
Always consult your physician before making any changes and starting a new exercise program. The pharmacist can help you understand side effects and possible non-pharmacological remedies.
They come in several different types and combos. Cortisol, decreased estrogen in women, decreased testosterone in men, and a combination of decreased estrogen and increased testosterone in menopausal women.
Hormones are real. Like beast level real, but we can do this. It’s a lifestyle change and each attempt counts.
This includes a decrease in caloric intake for those that overeat and changing the diet to nutrient dense foods. My advice is if you’re going to do it, then you may as well enjoy it.
I challenge you to find 3 healthy recipes that taste great and are easy to make and start there. Work them into your diet. Alternate them every other day.
The goal is to get started and once you start feeling better and looking better hopefully you won’t ever stop. Another trick is to learn how to cook healthy foods taste good.
Healthy does not have to mean less flavor. Avoiding trans fat in the diet is key to nutrition as well. Trans fat has been shown to mostly be stored in the body as visceral fat. Decreasing alcohol intake will help in the fight against belly fat as well.
Exercise: you knew it was coming.
This is a natural way to decrease blood pressure, decrease visceral fat, and help transport glucose into the cell thereby reducing the risk and state of type 2 diabetes. Decreasing the total body weight of 5 to 10% can help decrease this nasty offender called visceral body fat.
Not only do you need to be active, but you really need to go about it strategically. One of the most efficient exercise regimens to attack belly fat is a combination of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and resistance training. Again, this is not the only exercise solution here, but I have found it to be the most effective and it’s how I train.
The 2008 Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity and muscle strengthening at least two days per week that work all major muscle groups. This is a great place to start. If needed, a personal trainer can help transition you from sedentary to high intensity safely.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you changes your making to be more active!
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