Did you know that not all fat is created equally? The fat around your thighs is different from the fat around your middle. The fat you can pinch with your hands (called subcutaneous fat) and the fat that surrounds your abdominal organs (called visceral fat) are different from one another.
Visceral fat is the type of fat that collects around the inside organs of your abdomen, including your liver, your stomach, your peritoneal tissue, and your intestines.
Visceral fat is toxic to your body and it affects your body’s metabolism. Visceral fat makes cytokines that cause inflammation and can increase your risk of developing heart disease, such as a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. This type of fat also causes insulin resistance, which ultimately leads to diabetes mellitus (type 2).
Besides inflammation and heart disease, having raised cytokines can be a risk factor for developing certain types of cancer. Researchers have recently discovered that people who have visceral fat have a greater risk of esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
Health Risks You Need to Know About
Having visceral fat can be tricky. This is because you can’t really pinch it and feel it and yet it wreaks havoc on the body. You may not even be technically overweight but can still have visceral fat that is doing damage to your body every day,
There is no blood test to detect visceral fat and there is no x-ray that can tell if you are at risk for the diseases caused by visceral fat. The best way to know if you have visceral fat is to check your waist size using a cloth tape measure. The higher your waist size, the greater is the risk that you have excess belly fat.
Women with a waist measurement of at least 35 inches have a greater risk for visceral fat. Men who have a waist measurement of at least 40 inches have a greater risk for visceral fat. If you find out that you have to increase the size of your pants because they don’t fit well around your middle, even if your weight is the same, it means you need to do something about excess belly fat.
There is no magic pill for getting rid of belly fat, as you would be led to believe by certain supplement advertisements. The best way to decrease visceral fat is to eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and calories, and to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week.
This cannot only decrease belly fat but it decreases your chances of having insulin resistance and the diabetes mellitus that can come on because of that.
Insulin resistance leads to prediabetes, which means your blood sugars are raised but not so high to qualify for type 2 diabetes. The chances are good, however, that you will have diabetes and will be at risk for its complications in the next 10 years.
Here are some tips to avoiding belly fat that might ultimately lead to complications of diabetes:
• Eat more vegetables. You should have at least half a plate of vegetables with every meal. The vegetables should be of the non-starchy kind. This includes beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables.
• Avoid fruit juices. When you drink juice instead of eating the whole fruit, you don’t get the benefit of the fiber in the fruit and are only getting the sugar in the fruit and this can affect your insulin resistance.
• Stay active. When you allow yourself to stand up and move around, you burn extra calories and this will decrease the amount of visceral fat you have.
• Increase muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fatty tissue so the more muscle you have, the greater will be your metabolic rate so you’ll burn fat faster.
• Eat fresh foods. Avoid eating processed food from the grocery store. These foods are preserved with trans fats, and contain a lot of salt and sugar.
• Get enough sleep. If you don’t get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, you can develop complications, such as an increase in belly fat, diabetes, and heart disease.
• Reduce stress. When you are under a great deal of stress, your adrenal glands make extra cortisol, which directly affects the amount of visceral fat you have.
By increasing your exercise and following the rest of the tips above, you can cut belly fat, which will greatly reduce your chances of having complications of having too much fat around your middle.