As we grow older, we tend to accumulate more weight around our middle. Abdominal fat gain is a very common occurrence, so much so that we have a slew of nicknames for it. From beer belly, middle age spread, jelly belly, tum tum, spare tire, there are many names that are used to refer to the extra pounds that tend to cling to your mid-section.
Is Belly Fat Unavoidable?
Contrary to belief, gaining weight around your belly can be avoided, even with aging. With the right self-care, a healthy diet, and the right exercises to lose belly fat, you can maintain your svelte figure and continue to stay fit and trim.
Is Belly Fat Bad For You?
Health risks are directly proportional to the amount fat you carry around your midsection. Abdominal fat is also known as visceral fat and is the primary culprit that causes and aggravates a host of health issues. Visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat as it accumulates deeper within the abdomen and can fill up the space between abdominal organs.
The fat you carry around your abdomen can cause many issues with your general health and wellbeing, as it is thought to be responsible for causing metabolic disturbances, increasing the risks for getting type 2 diabetes and developing cardiovascular problems. In women, it can also be a factor in breast cancer and gallbladder issues.
What difference does where you carry your weight make?
You’ve probably heard the terms; apple and pear in terms of body shapes, heck, you’ve probably even been called one or the other. You are called pear shaped when your body tends to carry weight in your lower body around your thighs and butt. This fat that accumulates in the lower body is subcutaneous. You are called apple shaped when your body tends to carry weight on and around your midsection around your stomach. This fat that accumulates in the abdominal area is mostly visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat lies just under the skin and can be pinched. Visceral fat is deeper inside your belly and while it can be seen and measured, but can’t be pinched.
Your body’s internal preference about where it stores fat depends primarily on your hormones, genetics, and a handful of other factors. There is a lot of ongoing research about the hazards and perils of having too much visceral fat on your abdomen. As researchers and medical professionals correlate the health risks with the overall weight gain associated with age, most of the evidence has stacked up against abdominal fat.
So what does the research tell us about abdominal fat?
Abdominal fat cells are not dormant. It might even make sense if you thought of abdominal fat as a separate organ or gland that is are biologically active. The adipose or fat deposits around your belly have the capability of stimulating the production of hormones that can greatly affect our health. While the effects of these hormones are still being researched, what is well established is that excess fat in your body, particularly abdominal fat, causes hormonal imbalances.
Visceral fat around your abdomen also releases chemicals called cytokines which can amplify the risks of you developing cardiovascular problems. They can also damage your body’s insulin resistance and blood pressure. Another reason why abdominal fat can be dangerous is its proximity to the portal vein, which means that it can interfere the blood flow between the intestines and liver. Free fatty acids from the visceral fat can enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver influencing the production lipids and cause cholesterol problems as well as insulin resistance, increasing the risk for diabetes.
How can I lose belly fat?
There is no magic pill for this unfortunately. But the solution is simple if you are willing to stick to it, a healthy diet and exercise. Not only should you try to stay physically active during the course of the day, you should also try to get in some structured workouts and exercise at least 4 times a week. Using weights and strength and resistance training is also great at battling belly fat. Unfortunately you cannot spot reduce fat off your belly, you need to get your entire body in shape to tackle visceral fat.
At the same time, making sure that your diet is clean, well balanced and healthy. Not only should you eat clean, you should also make a conscious effort to keep your portion size in check and controlled. It is absolutely essential to include complex carbohydrates in your diet which means vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Lean proteins should be preferred and you should ideally completely cut out white sugar and refined carbs completely. The same goes for sugary drinks.
Until scientists develop some sort of medicinal treatments that will exclusively target the fat on your abdomen. Until that golden day, lifestyle changes are your best bet to eliminate the spare tyre.