Hey Angels and Alphas,
When you’re on a weight loss journey and you’re trying to slim down, your jiggly midsection is most often the first thing you want to get rid of. But when it comes to the research for it, studies show that losing belly fat is a lot more complicated than just upping the intensity of your ab workouts or becoming a victim to the next fad diet.
Sure, there’s a plethora of plans and programs that promise to demolish your belly fat, but the reality is that targeted weight loss simply doesn’t work. It’s not possible to just do certain isolation exercises or eat a certain way and then expect to lose weight specifically from your legs, arms, or your belly.
That being said, belly fat is often the first thing that goes when you have a well-rounded plan in place, and a slimmer waistline has been linked to lower risks of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Needless to say, it’s something you want to work on.
What exactly is belly fat?
Belly fat is made up of two types of fat: visceral or intra-abdominal fat, which wraps around your organs, and subcutaneous fat, that lives just under your skin. Most of the time, when you are talking about belly fat, you probably mean visceral fat because it’s the most dangerous type of fat. It’s linked to countless health concerns from inflammation, to breathing problems, to high blood pressure… even in people who are otherwise skinny on other parts of their body. Not to mention, in women specifically, excess belly fat is associated with breast cancer and gallbladder disease.
So why is belly fat so bad for you?
Visceral fat is particularly dangerous for many reasons, but one of the main ones seems to be that it is particularly close to the portal vein, the vein that transports blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances that get released by visceral fat can then travel to your liver, where they will directly impact your body’s production of blood lipids (or in other words, fatty substances in the blood), basically increasing the amount of “bad” cholesterol you have and decreasing the amount of “good” cholesterol in your body.
Visceral fat also pumps one of the immune system’s chemicals known as cytokines (among others) which massively disrupts your blood pressure, your metabolism, and your ability to respond normally to insulin (the hormone that distributes blood sugar to your body’s cells.) The result? Insulin resistance, one of the precursors to prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
The more excess belly fat you are storing, the greater this health risk seems to be. Every extra pound of fat you store is linked to new diagnoses of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. But the opposite is true, as well.
Even mild to moderate weight loss (let’s say, 3 percent of your starting weight) can significantly improve your heart health and metabolism. And the good news? Visceral fat is one of the easiest types of fat to lose – you can do it just by eating a well-balanced diet, staying in a deficit, and exercising regularly.
How long does it actually take to lose belly fat?
First, you have to remember: it’s not possible to target belly fat alone. That being said, reaching a lower percentage of body fat will reduce your belly fat, as well, and in turn, reduce your risk of metabolic diseases.
This means that the go-to number for how long it takes to (safely) lose fat stands for belly fat, as well. A calorie deficit of 500 calories a day leads to an average weight loss of about 1 pound a week. That’s a healthy and productive pace you can stick to if you want to achieve long-term success in your weight-loss efforts.
This means you can essentially start losing belly fat right away… but it will take some time to see and feel the results. Factors such as genetics, environment, age, activity level, among others, can impact how quickly you shed that belly fat.
There are no shortcuts to healthy living. But visceral fat responds extremely well to healthy eating and exercise. With a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day, you can lose about 4 pounds a month – and that’s safe and productive weight loss. It’s way more sustainable than rapid weight-loss, and will ultimately help you shrink your waistline.
If you want to track your progress effectively, make sure you measure your waist circumference around your belly button level and you *will* see progress.
And remember – muscle is heavier than fat. If you are looking and feeling leaner, this might not show on the scale, which is why you have to track your non-scale progress in different ways. Notice how you’re feeling throughout the day, notice your energy levels, notice how your clothes are fitting you, notice your mood. All of these things will play a direct role in your ability to achieve your weight loss goals.