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There are many countries in which a pot belly is considered as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. Doctors in the modern era will definitely not agree with this view. They know that visceral fat or hidden fat poses significant danger to our physical health and can even prove to be a killer in the long run if we do not take proactive steps to keep it at bay.
You might have this hidden fat even if you work out on a regular basis. Do not make the mistake of thinking that well defined muscles and a lower figure on the weighing scale will offset the effect of that tiny pot belly. Fat that stays hidden, which is termed as visceral fat plays havoc with levels of vital hormones, thus affecting the functioning of the entire body.
Visceral fat is fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and around other internal organs like the intestines, pancreas and the liver. It can act a trigger for hormonal imbalances leading to diseases like type 2 diabetes. It also raises the risk of different types of cancer like colorectal cancer and breast cancer and heart disease. A person with a pot belly is twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s than a person without one. So, however you choose to call it – pot belly, spare tire, beer belly- abdominal fat calls for immediate action.
How do you Know if you have Visceral Fat?
When you touch your belly, does it feel soft and squishy or firm? If it is firm, then you need to start worrying about visceral fat. The visceral fat that is hidden inside your body hampers the function of your internal organs. It may seem cute to say that you have the body shape of an apple or a pear, but it is no laughing matter. From a health perspective, the apple body shape is more dangerous as that means you have lots of fat hidden in your belly.
A tape measure is a handy tool to get a rough idea of how much visceral fat you have. Measure the circumference of your waist and hip around the largest point and divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. A ratio exceeding 1.0 for men and 0.85 for women is considered to be bad.
How do you get Rid of Visceral Fat?
As health experts tell us, the concept of “spot reduction” is a fallacy. Hence, doing situps and pulling your belly in and holding your breath is just not going to work. You need to perform compound exercises which involve more than one joint movement and bigger muscle groups. These include pull-ups, lunges, squats, dead lifts and press-ups. Resistance training exercises like these can speed up the production of growth hormone and promote the development of lean muscle which will help you burn more fat. High intensity cardiovascular exercises like running, walking and swimming too can help shift the fat.
When it comes to diet, you need to maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day to lose 0.5 kilos in a week. Switching to a Mediterranean diet where you will take in more healthy foods is easy in this region where you get lots of fresh vegetables. Depending on your body measurements and level of activity, you need to calculate the calories needed to lose weight at this steady rate and thus reduce visceral fat. Try to reduce or completely eliminate the “empty calories” you take in through fizzy drinks, cupcakes and doughnuts and fast food and try to replace them with healthier foods. Generally, reducing foods high in fats and carbohydrates and increasing intake of foods having protein leads to long term weight loss though we do need to eat foods from all food groups and maintain a balanced diet.
Any kind of diet that is too restrictive will be difficult to maintain in the long run. Rather than going for fad diets which are quick short term fixes, opt for a lifestyle change where you get to actually taste and enjoy healthier foods that you will enjoy eating in the long run. Just ensure that the ratio of carbs to proteins is lower. Now, all you need to do is start and you are well on your way to a healthier you.
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