The facts about belly fat!

Is it really possible to rid yourself of belly fat? And why do we have it in the first place? Lite n’ Easy Dietitian Ashleigh Jones gives us the facts!

First thing’s first – belly fat is not just an aesthetic concern. Yes, many people think a flat tummy looks terrific, but there are some very real health concerns that are related to excess weight around the middle.

Why belly fat matters.

 

As humans, we store two different types of body fat – subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is stored between our skin and our muscles, and is soft to the touch. Visceral fat, also known as “intra-abdominal fat”, is stored beneath our muscles and around our major organs, including our heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas.

Body fat has a surprising amount in common with real estate – it’s all about location, location, location! Subcutaneous body fat stored below the skin is far less of a concern than visceral fat stored around our organs, which puts us at increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat contributes directly to systemic inflammation by producing proteins called cytokines. It’s also involved in the production of angiotensin, a protein that causes blood pressure to rise.

Why we store belly fat.

Body fat has several important functions in the body, such as cushioning vital organs like our kidneys and insulating us against the cold. Body fat is also our fuel tank—a store of Calories that we can tap into to prevent starvation. This is particularly important during times of illness and injury. We actually need a certain amount of body fat to stay healthy, especially as we get older. So it’s worth remembering that it is absolutely possible to be too lean!

While our diet and exercise habits play a role in how much body fat we store, other factors like our sex, age and genetics are responsible for where we store it. Women tend to store more subcutaneous fat around their hips, thighs and buttocks, while men tend to carry more weight around the middle, particularly in the form of visceral fat.

As we get older, we tend to store more body fat than we did in our younger years. This is partly because our muscles become less sensitive to dietary protein intake as we age, so we need to consume plenty of protein and perform resistance exercise to maintain our muscle mass and avoid storing excess fat. Lifestyle is also part of the equation, as we tend to become less active as we get older.

As for genetics, take a look at how your family members carry their weight. In many cases, males will carry weight the same way as other males in their family, and females will have a similar body type to their female relatives. Your diet and exercise habits will play a role in how much body fat you store, but whether you are “apple” or “pear” shaped is largely a result of your family tree, not your diet – and no amount of sit ups is going to change that.

How do I know if I have too much belly fat?

We know that visceral fat is the most concerning type of fat when it comes to long term health. The most accurate way to measure how much visceral fat you’re carrying is with a CT scan or MRI – but this isn’t very practical for most of us! A far easier indicator is your waist circumference, which can be measured by placing a measuring tape midway between the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs and wrapping it around your waist.

According to the Heart Foundation, having a waist circumference greater than 94cm for men, or 80cm for women, puts you at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other types of chronic disease.

How to reduce visceral fat.

  1. Get moving. Adding in a 30 minute walk each day might not translate to a huge amount of weight lost on the scale, but it will slash your risk of developing a chronic disease – that’s what I’d call a significant amount of life gain!
  2. Stop trying to spot reduce – doing countless sit ups isn’t the solution. Instead, find a type of exercise you enjoy and do it consistently.
  3. Simple healthy eating. You don’t need to cut carbs or follow extreme fad diets to reduce your visceral fat. Instead, tune into your hunger cues and ensure you’re eating a heart healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
  4. Lose the booze. Not entirely, but make sure you have a couple of alcohol-free days each week. Excessive consumption of alcohol (which is defined as more than four drinks on any single occasion) is linked with increased levels of visceral fat.

 

How can Lite n’ Easy help?

Lite n’ Easy is a great way to enjoy a healthier life. By eating the right foods in the right portions, you can reduce your chances of suffering type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers by as much as 80%.

Lite n’ Easy delivers great tasting, healthy food that makes it easy to lose weight and manage your weight. It’s also a convenient solution for time poor people who are too busy to shop for or cook every meal every day. Whatever your motivation, we’re confident Lite n’ Easy will work for you. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.