That jiggle in your tummy may be doing more harm than you know. Extra belly fat is a sign that you have dangerous visceral fat packed between your abdominal organs. Far scarier than subcutaneous fat, which sits just below the skin, visceral fat contributes to deadly diseases.
According to Harvard Medical School, fat cells don’t just sit there dormant as you might believe. They are biologically active, emitting hormones and other substances that can affect your entire body. Visceral fat emits the most harmful molecules, including proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation.
Long story short, it seems visceral fat contributes to high blood pressure (hyperglycemia), high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia and high LDL cholesterol lead to cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, and high blood sugar causes Type 2 diabetes.
Find out if you’re in the danger zone by finding your waist circumference with a measuring tape. Position the tape at belly-button level. No cheating — don’t suck in. If you’re a woman, a circumference of 35 inches or more indicates visceral fat. For men, 40 inches or more means it’s time to shape up.
The good news is that it’s easier to shed visceral fat than subcutaneous fat, which can be notoriously stubborn. Of course, you can’t target any specific type of fat; you must lose fat tissue all over to reduce problem areas. A pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories, so that’s how much you need to burn off to lose a pound. Cut 500 calories from your daily diet and do cardio exercise, like speedwalking or running, 45 minutes per day, five days per week to drop about 1 1/2 pounds every seven days. Don’t eat less than 1,200 calories per day, though.
Research shows that stress also contributes to visceral fat. Help your waistline and your well-being by meditating, doing yoga, or just relaxing with a great book before bed.
By Nina Kate
Featured photo by A m o r e C a t e r i n a, courtesy of Flickr