Increased awareness about obesity and its health effects have inspired important conversations within the health community about fat, from the types of fat on the body, location of fat and most importantly how to get rid of fat in the healthiest and most long-term way.
Virtually everyone has problem areas depending on the build of their body. Most common are the hips, buttocks and waist. As a society we tend to focus on these problem areas and work on the fat we can see, called subcutaneous fat. However, WebMD emphasizes that another more dangerous fat lies deeper within the body called visceral fat. This fat is essential to the body in low quantities; it protects and cushions the inner organs of the body. However, it is this fat that has been shown to directly link to the most serious health threats such as heart disease, dementia, high blood pressure and Diabetes. Excess fat in the diet and lack of sufficient exercise are two factors that contribute to excess visceral fat. Obese persons run out of places to store fat on the body and begin to store that fat in and around the organs.
A belly measuring more than 35 inches on a woman and 40 inches on a man may indicate the presence of high levels of visceral fat. Dr. Kristen Hairston, Assistant Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine is quoted in the WebMD piece saying, “If you have more abdominal fat, it’s probably an indicator that you have more visceral fat.”
At this point I am sure you have sucked in your belly or pulled out a tape measure to see where you fall on this scale. I know I did. However even in the worst-case scenarios, healthy diet and exercise can cut down on this fat and provide health benefits almost immediate benefits to the wellbeing of the body.
First and foremost to cut down on belly fat and visceral fat you have to cut back on calories, specifically calories derived from saturated fat. Dr. Mehmet Oz told the HuffingtonPost on May 21, 2013 that certain foods could actually help you burn visceral fat. Olive oil, nuts and avocados were a few of his suggestions for foods with monounsaturated fatty acids. Dr. Oz suggests these foods may stop weight gain in the midsection of the body. He also recommends paying attention to the Glycemic Index of foods, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, a key factor in the development of Type 2 Diabetes. Low-fat dairy is a great option for increasing calcium, providing protein and fighting against a fat belly.
As with any solid health plan, a change in diet must be accompanied with increased exercise. Many looking to slim down the midsections turn to crunches and core exercise. While strengthening the core helps trim the belly down, it is calorie busting cardio vascular exercise that really slims the body down and eliminates visceral fat from the body.
For those concerned about their visceral fat levels or those considering a new health plan it is always necessary to consult with a doctor. After learning about your direct risks, take the time to come down to the Aspen Club and Spa to discuss your health plan and goals with a physical trainer. These professionals can help you tailor the workout your body needs to burn visceral fat and to be the healthiest you can be!