What is Belly Fat?
Belly fat is that type of fat you should not have in excess. If you are struggling with a stomach bulge, you are not alone. A lot of people are too, and in fact people who are thinner or fatter than you are. Belly fat is not particular to people who have excess weight. The truth is everyone has some belly fat regardless of their size.
The thing about belly fat is where it‘s located in your body. There are different types of fat in different parts of your body. Subcutaneous fat is a type of fat that sits under your skin. Everyone has subcutaneous fat but how much a person would develop depends on factors like exercise and diet.
Visceral fat also known as belly fat is the fat surrounding your internal organs like your kidneys, lungs and stomach. Your organs actually need visceral fat since they provide cushioning; but they need it in small amount.
Why is Excess Belly Fat Dangerous?
There are parts of your body where fat is naturally stored. When you gain excess weight, the extra fat is stored in places other than the usual deposit areas. These include places like your heart and your organs in and around your abdomen. Besides staying in your abdomen, belly fat also produces some other substances which are harmful to your health.
If you have excess belly fat, you may be at a greater risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems and some types of cancer including colon cancer and breast cancer. People who have excess belly fat have also been found to be at risk of premature death. This is regardless of their body weight.
Other studies show that a woman who has a healthy body weight but measures a large waistline is more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. You may be wondering where belly fat comes from. Do thin people not also have belly fat? Yes they do and in fact they can have it in excess. How much belly fat a person has is determined by so many factors.
What are the Causes of Belly Fat?
To begin with, let’s find out if you have excess belly fat. Get a measuring tape and wrap it around your waist at your navel while standing. If your waist size is more than 40 inches as a man, and more than 35 inches as a woman, then that’s a sign you may have excess belly fat.
A good way to know for sure is to get a CT scan or MRI done. Either of the tests would reveal how much visceral fat you have. If you have excess belly fat, there are several things that may be responsible. Let’s take a look at some of them:
The genes a person inherits play a role in how much belly fat they would have. This explains why a thin person can have excess belly fat. Genes also affect a person’s body type and where fat is stored in their body. Some persons have the tendency to carry excess weight around their waist. Persons like this are said to have “apple shape”. Others are more likely to store fat in their thighs and hips and they are said to have a “pear shape”.
Older people are more likely to have excess belly fat than young people. This is particularly true for women once they reach menopause. After menopause, the fat in a woman’s body is more likely to move to the abdomen. As a woman gets older, there is a decrease in the levels of her estrogen. This also affects the distribution of fat in her body. Even if a woman is not gaining weight, she’s more likely to gain belly fat.
Aging in both men and women also leads to a decrease in body mass. The decrease in body mass in turn affects the way the body uses up calories from food. It slows down the rate at which the body burns up calories. This can make it more difficult to keep a healthy weight.
Drinking too much Alcohol
Regardless of the type of alcohol you take, drinking too much alcohol puts you at a greater risk of excess belly fat. If you must drink alcohol, drink only a little, but it is best not to drink at all. Besides increasing your risk of excess belly fat, alcohol consumption is a risk factor of several chronic diseases like cancer, kidney disease, liver disease and heart disease.
If you eat more food than you need, you are more likely to have too much belly fat. Overeating leads to an imbalance between your caloric intake and the energy you burn.
Belly fat feeds on inactivity. The less physically active you are, the more likely you would develop excess body fat, even if you watch what you eat.
How do you get Rid of Excess Belly Fat?
If you have been told there’s a single thing you need to do to lose the bulge in your tummy, that isn’t really true. There’s no trick or formula to losing excess belly fat. With weight loss, time is an important factor. Since there are several factors that can cause weight gain, there are several things you might also need to do to lose weight.
Supplements, herbal products and special diets may appear to bring a quick solution, but the truth is the only way to be successful with ridding your body of excess belly fat and maintaining your weight is to commit to a healthy lifestyle for as long as you live. This isn’t a one-off thing; it is rather a life-long commitment. These are some of the things you should start doing:
Make Exercise a Part of your Daily Routine
Physical inactivity is a big culprit when it comes to excess belly fat. Aim at exercising for at least 30 minutes every day. Strength training exercises and aerobic exercises are particularly helpful with weight loss. As your body weight reduces, your belly fat also shrinks.
Even if you follow a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet which is believed to help with achieving and keeping a flat belly, you still need to eat in moderation. Eating a lot of food, even if healthy, would lead to excess weight gain. If you are struggling with overeating, there are a lot ways you can curb your appetite. One way is to eat more fiber-rich foods which would help you stay full for longer periods. Another way is to eat from smaller plates. This will help to control your food portions.
Eliminate Sugary Drinks and Foods from your Diet
Excess sugar is stored as fat in your body. Water is a healthier option to sugary drinks and beverages. Eating too much of sugary foods would make it more difficult for you to lose weight. Junk foods are well known to be high in sugar. Cutting them from your diet would help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
Eat Healthy Foods
The types of foods that you eat go a long way to determine how much belly fat you would have. If you eat a lot of refined grains like pasta, white rice and white bread, you are more likely to gain excess belly fat. Instead, you should eat healthier foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and choose healthy fats over saturated fats.
Too much stress can lead to weight gain and especially excess belly fat. While stress may not be totally avoidable, you can manage them the right way. To deal effectively with stress, the first thing you should probably do is to find out your stressor. Work-related stress is a type of stress experienced by a lot of people.
If you are stressed from work, there are ways you can deal with it. Getting enough sleep every night is a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with stress. The quality of your sleep greatly impacts your health. Yoga and meditation can also be an effective stress management technique.