Hey Angels and Alphas,
It’s the dream of every weight loss enthusiast to zap down belly fat. But, far from the goal of getting rock-hard abs, there are many reasons why you would want to reduce the fat your body stores around the abdominal region. This fat can be especially dangerous, and an expanding waistline could grow your risk for a variety of chronic illnesses.
Why is belly fat so dangerous?
Your body’s fat impacts your health in a variety of ways depending on the location it’s stored. While most fat found on other parts of the body such as arms, legs, and glutes, are considered to be “subcutaneous fat”, belly fat is referred to as “visceral” fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the much more pinchable, squishy fat that sits between your skin and muscle that helps keep you warm and cushioned against shock… and stores extra calories. Visceral fat stores calories, as well, but it isn’t as pinchable because it’s located in and around your organs. It’s hidden deep inside your belly region, making it firm to the touch.
Fat doesn’t just store calories. It’s living tissue that is capable of producing and releasing hormones that will affect other organs inside your body. Because visceral fat sits near your internal organs, its release of these chemicals is very poorly situated. Having more visceral fat might raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also make you less sensitive to insulin, raising your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
And even if you’re thin, you might still have visceral fat in and around the abdominal region. Being skinny won’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. There’s no guaranteed way to tell subcutaneous fat from visceral fat short of a CT scan, but it’s vital that you have a rough idea of what we’re talking about and where these visceral stores are.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE (WC): Get a feel for the top of your hip bone (it’s at the same level as your belly button) and circle a tape measure around this single point. Take a couple of measurements and then figure out the average.
WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO: Your waste-to-hip ratio will be the circumference of your waist divided by the circumference of your hips. To measure your hips, you can stand in front of a mirror then figure out the widest part of your glutes and measure that circumference.
How do we banish visceral fat?
If you fall in the normal range for WHR and WC, great. Keep working at your weight goals and see how these metrics change. Because of how close it is to your liver, visceral fat is usually the easiest to burn. It’s the less risky subcutaneous fat that usually likes to stick around.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to forcefully spot reduce fat around your belly regardless of how many crunches you do. Here are five tips that will give you the best result:
Go beyond weight tracking. You can simply track your waist, hip and even neck circumference with your Notes app and see how your measurements change throughout time.
Sweat for 45-60 minutes each day. Visceral fat responds extremely well to regular endurance exercises, including running, biking, rowing, swimming, all of which elevate your heart rate. As your body uses its fat stores to fuel exercise, it’ll start evaporating your visceral stores.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat a diet that is in whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and lean proteins while your calories are set for gradual weight loss (or about 1-2 pounds per week). Just cut way back on your added sugars and alcohol intake since these nutrients will likely end up as visceral fat in the body.
Sleep more, stress less. While it’s easier said than done, in order to take care of your physical body, you must take care of your mental state. Factors such as sleep loss and stress can sabotage your fitness and health goals, so learn more about quality sleep and then use meditation or yoga to calm down your mind. Remember, it’s not just about your physical health, it’s also about your mental health, as well.