Belly Fat and Heart Health
WRITTEN BY DIMITRIUS GLENN | PUBLISHED APRIL 27, 2021
Belly Fat is nothing to joke about!!! If you’re carrying a few pounds above your belt, you’re not alone. However, this is not a follow the crowd type of party that you should be a part of. Carrying extra weight – especially belly fat is risky. Belly fat is a more dangerous fat! Let me share with you how.
Belly Fat Is Dangerous
The problem with belly fat as you can see in the picture above is that it’s not limited to the extra layer of padding that we pack on over time just below the skin (subcutaneous fat). Visceral fat (which lies deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your internal organs) is also a contributing factor. Regardless of how much you weigh, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of the following:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Insulin resistance & Type 2 Diabetes
- Colorectal Cancer
- Sleep Apnea
- Premature death from any cause
- High blood pressure
Now that you know the risks that belly fat increases, let me show you what contributes to belly fat. To start with, your weight is largely determined by three main factors.
- How many calories you consume during your day
- How many calories you burn off with daily
- Your age
If you eat too much and choose not to exercise or be inactive too much, you’re likely to put on weight and what comes with that is belly fat. Getting older plays a big part as well. As we age, we lose muscle mass, especially if you’re not physically active. Losing this muscle mass decreases how quickly our bodies utilizes calories, which makes it more challenging to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Our genes play a role in where we store fat. Balancing our calorie intake can help prevent weight gain, despite our age and genetics.
How Belly Fat Comes To Be
- As mentioned above, food consumption along with what we drink contributes to weight gain and the accumulation of belly fat. What are some of these foods that contribute?
- Sugary food and beverages- cakes, candies, muffins, frozen yogurt, sodas, flavored coffee drinks and sweet tea to name a few
- Trans Fat- used to extend the packaging shelf life in muffins, baking goods and crackers
- Low Protein Diets- make sure that you get adequate dietary protein, it’s one of the most important factors in preventing weight gain
- Wrong Gut Bacteria- the bacteria in our gut is known as gut flora or microbiome. Gut health is important in maintaining a healthy immune system and avoiding disease. An imbalance increases risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease, Cancer, etc. Try eating cruciferous vegetables, pineapples, apple cider vinegar, cultured and fermented foods to name a few, to maintain this balance.
- Fruit Juices- even though fruit juice sweetened or not may provide some vitamins and minerals, the fructose it contains can drive insulin resistance and promote belly fat gain
- Low fiber diets- a diet low in fiber and high in refined grains may lead to increased amounts of belly fat
- Beer isn’t only to blame, drinking excess alcohol of any kind can increase belly fat because of the extra calorie count. Do it in moderation if at all.
- The less you drink, the fewer calories you’ll consume and the less likely you’ll gain belly fat
Ways To Reduce and Prevent Belly Fat
Losing belly fat takes effort and patience. To lose excess fat and keep it from coming back, aim for slow and steady weight loss. Consult your doctor for help getting started and staying on track.
First things first, determine your belly size.
- Stand and place a tape measure around your bare stomach, just above your hipbone. Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you but doesn't push into your skin. Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around. Relax, exhale and measure your waist, resisting the urge to suck in your stomach. For men, a waist measurement of more than 40 inches (102 centimeters) For women, 34.6 inches (88 centimeters) indicates an unhealthy concentration of belly fat and a greater risk of health problems.
Next, you can work on toning your abs with plank holds or other exercises, but just doing this won’t get rid of belly fat. However, visceral fat will respond to great diet and exercise strategies, so that you can shed extra lbs. and lower your total body fat. To battle this, try this:
- Focus on plant base foods, choose lean protein sources if you eat meat and limit saturated fat, high fat dairy and refrain or limit processed meats
- Keep portion size in check
- Replace sugary beverages
- Include physical activity in your daily routine, adding strength training
Mayo Clinic.org, Naturopathic Physician Eric Bakker (N.D.), Consumer Reports.org and Cardiosmart.org