Desk Report: You may be a peaceful person, but your fight with belly fat is constant. Belly fat makes a common appearance during festival time, wedding celebrations and vacationing. Today we dissect belly fat to examine the what, why and how. If you are trying to get rid of this perpetual problem then this post will help to nip the problem in the bud.
What is belly fat
Belly Fat goes by many names – beer belly, pot belly, abdominal fat, organ fat, intra – abdominal fat or simply fat. But how is this fat different from the fat that is found in other areas of the body
‘Visceral fat, …is located inside the peritoneal cavity, packed in between internal organs and torso, as opposed to subcutaneous fat, which is found underneath the skin, and intramuscular fat, which is found interspersed in skeletal muscle…An excess of visceral fat is known as central obesity, the pot belly or beer belly effect, in which the abdomen protrudes excessively.’ – As mentioned in Wikipedia
Causes of stomach fat
Excess calories and hormonal changes are the reasons for stomach fat. Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise too can cause belly fat.
Waist to hip ratio
The common misconception, that only visibly over-weight and obese people have belly fat, needs to be debunked. Belly fat can attack anyone, whether skinny or fat. What does this mean As mentioned earlier, visceral fat is the real belly fat we are discussing here, and the real belly fat that puts you at risk of many diseases. This is due to the inflammatory properties of visceral fat as it constricts important body-regulating hormones in your abdominal region.
More than the weighing scale, a better measure of how much belly fat an individual has, is the waist to hip ratio. You’ll be surprised to know that several, seemingly thin people have a poor waist to hip ratio, which puts them at risk of the same heart diseases and other ailments usually associated with obesity. So what’s a good waist to hip ratio Here’s a table
Why is belly fat worse than fat stored in any other part of the body
This brings us to the difference between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat helps in the supply of oxygen. It acts like a cushioning effect if you fall or experience impact. It also serves as a store house of energy. Excess subcutaneous fat will give you the flabby arms, thighs etc and is easily burned off with exercise rather than diet.
Visceral fat only increases your waist line, choking and tightening your internal organs. As you will see later visceral fat is linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
Thin individuals too have visceral fat; if you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. If you plan to lose weight based only on a diet rather than exercise you have a higher deposit of internal fat around internal organs. Hence even thin people are prone to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Link between visceral fat and cardiovascular diseases
Visceral fat is responsible for inflammation in the body, which in turn is linked to heart diseases. ‘Excess VAT is accompanied by elevated triglycerides, reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, andor elevated fasting plasma glucose.’ (Source)
These high levels are an indicator of cardiovascular diseases, but physical activity and diet can help you control the risk of heart diseases.
Link between visceral fat and cancer
Since visceral fat leads to the inflammation of the body, it is linked to cancer too, especially colon cancer. Visceral fat contains an immune cell macrophages, which produces a hormone Cytokines that causes cancer.
This hormone ‘can increase oxidative stress and boost free radical production and they can disturb insulin function.’ (Source) High levels of insulin can cause cancer.
Prevention of visceral fat
Losing weight the healthy way.
De-stressing by meditation and breathing exercises.
Drinking plenty of water to flush out salt from the tissues so as to feel lighter and not bloated.
Eating a proper diet by including anti-inflammatory foods like oats, wheat bran, brown rice, green vegetables, fruits, green tea, nuts, fish etc and avoid inflammatory foods like refined cereals, sweets, fried foods etc.
Liposuction removes subcutaneous fat and not the visceral fat because it is too close to the internal organs, which would make it unsafe.