The fat you are desperately trying to shed before beach season is usually fat stored just beneath the skin. This is called subcutaneous fat, it is found on your stomach, arms, and pretty much everywhere, but it should be the least of your worries. There’s another kind of body fat that doesn’t get as much attention but is even more important to keep an eye on; visceral fat, more commonly known as belly fat. Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat is stored deep within the abdominal cavity and around important organs such as the pancreas, liver and intestines to provide essential cushioning.
Is Belly Fat Worst Than Subcutaneous Fat?
Medical researchers have concluded that belly fat is more toxic and inflammatory to the body than subcutaneous fat. Since belly fat surrounds important organs, having large or excessive levels of this fat causes it to release an inflammatory substance named cytokines in the body. But that’s not all, belly fat can also negatively impact brain function, interfere with hormone levels, you appetite, mood, sleep, fertility, and metabolism.
How to Know if You Have Too Much Belly Fat?
As you can see above, there are some obvious signs of excess belly fat. A large waistline and a pear-shaped body will fail the eye-test most times, but it’s not simply about being overweight. People who have what is considered a “normal” body weight can also suffer from excess belly fat.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states the following:
A waist circumference of more than 35” in women and 40” in men is indicative of unhealthy levels of belly fat. You can also calculate your waist-to-hip ratio to assess your abdominal fat levels. Here’s how:
- Measure your waistline around your belly button and then measure around your hips.
- Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
- For women, this number should range between 0.8 and 1.00 and for men, it should be around 0.95.
If you are pushing those numbers, it may be time to see a nutritionist and take action.
Main Causes of Belly Fat
While there is scientific evidence of genetic predispositions to hormonal and metabolic imbalances, this is not the sole culprit here. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and stress related factors come into play. Hormones like insulin, estrogen and cortisol are scientifically proven to cause abdominal or belly fat. High cortisol levels caused by cause belly fat accumulation, and low estrogen levels tell the body to gain weight, this is especially present in menopausal women. Also, maybe cut down on the hamburgers.
The Dangers of Belly Fat
Belly fat can real consequences. This issue isn’t about looking good, but about being healthy. Too much belly fat can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, alzheimers disease, dementia, arthritis and even depression.
Beating Belly Fat
Although Justin Bieber does indeed suffer from dementia, it is unrelated to belly fat. It’s a simple -yet hard to follow- formula really; eating healthier, reducing stress levels, getting over 7 hours of sleep a day and getting regular exercise will keep belly fat at bay in most cases. Do your lifespan a favor and do something about your belly fat while you still can.