So you’ve got a beer gut,
but a bit of a pot belly never hurt anyone right?
I mean, I’m sure you’re probably relatively lean around the arms and legs and may even been aerobically fit.
So you would assume you have nothing to worry about.
Wrong. You should be worried, and here’s why.
Let me introduce you to visceral fat.
What is Visceral Fat?
The sciency definition: Excess intra-abdominal adipose tissue accumulation.
Normal person definition: Visceral fat is a ‘gel like’ fat that is found deep in your stomach underneath the fat you would usually find on most other areas of your body (subcutaneous fat) and can be extremely dangerous as it covers some of your vital organs including your pancreas, liver and intestines.
What does it do?
Excess visceral fat sits deep in the abdominal cavity and can have a negative effect on your hormones, more specifically the hormonal communications between vital organs.
Visceral fat has been linked to an increased chance of:
-Insulin resistance (typically the beginning of diabetes)
-Increased blood pressure and cholesterol
-Arthritis… the list goes on
How do I know if I’m in danger?
The most effective way of figuring out whether or not you’re in an unhealthy range and putting yourself at risk it to firstly calculate your waist to hip ratio.
Waist measurement divided by hip measurement
Waist= In line with your belly button
Hip= Boney part of your hip or the widest point
For males: If your waist to hip ratio is above 1.0 then you are at risk.
For females: If your waist to hip ratio is above 0.85 then you are at risk.
*Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to be severely over-weight to be at risk. Visceral fat is often present in skinnier people too. Unfortunately the only real way to figure out for sure how much you’re holding is to get a CT scan.
How does it happen?
The most common reason for excessive stomach fat and in-turn excess visceral fat is simply spending too much time taking in more energy than you are expending (eating in a calorie surplus) and most likely living a relatively sedentary lifestyle with minimal aerobic activity.
Also when there’s too much glucose in your blood stream and your cells have already filled with glycogen stores, glucose can be stored as fat. So if you’re the type of person who eats a diet significantly high in carbohydrates (specifically high GI/sugary carbs) and does little to no exercise you may be at a higher risk.
So what now?
If you’ve done the calculations and suspect you may be in an unhealthy range here’s what you can do to combat the problem.
Increase aerobic activity and strength training
Try and get moving every single day in some way or another.
High intensity interval training is a great way to reduce visceral fat. Keep in mind you can NOT spot-reduce fat so doing exercises such as crunches or other direct abdominal exercises in the hopes of reducing body fat from your stomach is a waste of time.
It’s also a great idea to be completing some form of strength training multiple times per week.
Reduce calorie intake
Losing weight requires a negative energy balance and more often than not a calorie deficit.
This article will help you figure out what your calorie intake should be along with how to set up your macronutrient breakdown for optimal fat loss and muscle retention: The Ultimate Guide to Flexible Dieting
Reduce stress levels
High cortisol levels with interfere with your fat loss progress, meaning the more you can combat your stress/cortisol levels, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to lose the fat in the long run.
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