Most people don’t like having that extra flab around their midsections, but we tend to just put up with it. The problem is that the extra fat around the stomach can be quite unhealthy. Even for people who are thin, having extra fat can cause health concerns.
Here’s the thing, people store their fat in one of two ways:
- Right underneath the skin in areas like the thighs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen. This type of fat is subcutaneous (under the skin) fat.
- If you take a deeper look inside the body, you can find fat that covers the vital organs (liver, lungs, digestive tract, heart, etc.) as well as in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. This type of fat i’s called visceral fat.
You can think of it this way… subcutaneous fat is the visual type of fat whereas visceral fat is hidden and cannot be seen by the eye.
Clearly, people are more self-conscious about the fat that they can see, however it’s the fat that we can’t see that can pose the bigger threat regardless of your size.
Fat doesn’t just sit around doing nothing. It acts like an organ that secretes substances, says Kristen Hairston, MD, who is assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine.
While visceral fat provides necessary cushioning around organs, Hairston says, it secretes “lots of nasty substances” that can be absorbed by the neighboring organs.
For instance, visceral fat cells release inflammatory compounds that can lead to insulin resistance and some cancers. Excess visceral fat is linked to greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancers of the breast, colon, and endometrium.
So now that you understand that fat can be a problem regardless of your pant size, the question is how to lose the fat. Aside from allowing you to be healthier, it will give you more confidence to shred belly fat and get yourself into good shape.
HOW CAN YOU CONTROL VISCERAL FAT?
There are two major components to losing fat: exercise and diet!
Forget spot-reducing as there is no such thing that you can do to target your fat. As you burn calories, you’ll lose fat.
But if you really want to cut the fat, high intensity aerobic exercise has been shown through various studies to trim subcutaneous and visceral fat as well as fat stores in the liver linked to fatty liver disease. Not only that, but by doing aerobic exercise vigorously, you can slow the build-up of visceral fat throughout the years.
Duke University performed a study where participants performed 30 minutes of intense cardiovascular activity which was done four time a week. When the study was finished, the results showed that the participants of the study were able to reduce more visceral abdominal fat as well as subcutaneous fat over the control group. Resistance training alone reduced only subcutaneous fat.
It’s important to always have some activity in your life. Studies have shown that people who lead inactive lifestyles have a greater build up of visceral fat over time. A lifestyle that includes moderate activity – raising your heart rate for 30 minutes at least three times per week – significantly slows visceral fat gains.
There is no diet that targets visceral fat alone. But when you lose weight, belly fat usually goes first. Check out some of the foods listed below that will help with boosting your metabolism and allowing you to burn the fat around your belly! Before we get to the special metabolism boosting foods, something that you should consider is eating more meals a day but reducing your portion size. Most people recommend eating 5 – 6 meals a day, trying to have something to eat every 3 – 4 hours.With each meal, try to incorporate at least one of the foods listed below to really help keep your metabolism at its peak.
SPECIAL POWER FOODS THAT BOOST METABOLISM
Whole Grain Cereal, Oats
Secret Ingredients: Calcium, complex carbohydrates, and fiber
Foods that are made up of complex carbohydrates and fiber such as brown rice or oats will speed your metabolism by ensuring that your insulin levels are kept low after eating. The reason this is good is because spikes in insulin is what triggers your body to store fat which leads to your body slowing down metabolism meaning fewer calories are burned. Complex carbohydrates break down much more slowly in the stomach than refined carbohydrates so that your insulin levels don’t spike as much.
Secret Ingredient: Calcium
Milk is great because the calcium acts as a metabolic trigger. A study was done that found dieters who consumed around 1,200 (mg) of calcium a day lost almost twice as much weight as those dieters that received less calcium.
Jalapenos, Habaneros, Cayennes
Secret Ingredient: Capsaicin—the chemical in peppers that gives them their bite
Capsaicin can speed up the heart and a study performed in the 80′s found that eating one single spicy meal boosts metabolism up to 25 percent. Not only that but the calorie burning effects can last up to 3 hours after you’ve finished your meal.
Green Tea, Coffee
Secret Ingredients: Caffeine and a chemical in the tea called EGCG
Caffeine can speed up your heart rate which can cause your body to burn more calories. EGCG, the active ingredient found in green tea works almost in the same manner, except instead of making your heart pump faster, it causes your nervous system to run more quickly, which allows you to burn more calories.
If you really want to burn some extra studies then take some caffeine with a dose of EGCG three times a day. Doing so can help you burn almost an additional 100 calories a day, at least according to a recent research study. That’s just your body at rest!
A study performed in Quebec at the Laval University found that men who consumed a spicy peppered snack with a cup of coffee were able to burn almost 1,000 more calories over the control group!
Lean Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey
Secret Ingredient: Protein
More energy is required for your body to digest protein, especially from meat sources, than either fat or carbohydrates. The more protein you eat means that your body will have to work harder during the digestion process allowing you to burn more calories.
Protein is also essential for building muscle. The more lean muscle your body has, the more calories it burns even at rest due to the fact that you’re metabolism works more efficiently.
Salmon, Tuna, Sardines
Secret Ingredient: Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 can alter levels of leptin, a hormone that’s found in the body that can influence your metabolism. The more Omega-3 that you consume, the lower levels of leptin that will be produced in the body. University of Wisconsin researchers found a correlation with leptin levels in mice that showed those with lower levels had faster metabolisms and were able to burn calories and therefore fat faster than mice with higher levels of leptin.
By following a proper nutrition and exercise plan, you should be able to lose the belly fat and get healthier!
There is no diet that targets visceral fat alone. But when you lose weight, belly fat usually goes first.