Belly fat, actually called visceral fat, are fat cells that collect in the front of your body just above your waistline. While normally associated with people having a large girth, skinny people can also have visceral fat too – it is just hidden deep in their abdominal cavity. Think of it as the fat that is inside your body that surrounds your organs. This fat is different from the subcutaneous fat that lies just under your skin.
So why is having belly fat a bigger deal than having the same amount of fat in other areas of the body? Belly fat is different from other stored fat. Researchers have found that belly fat easily breaks down into fatty acids that drain directly into the liver. Once there it triggers a condition known as “metabolic syndrome” that can result in:
· high blood sugar levels
· increased blood pressure and triglycerides
· increased risk of a stroke or heart attack
· high levels of LDL – the “bad” cholesterol.
While your genetic makeup is known as one factor to predispose you to having either an apple (belly fat) or pear-shaped (hip and buttocks fat) body, most belly fat is a result of lifestyle – eating too many calories, exercising too little, and under too much stress.
Getting Rid of Belly Fat
The answer is simple – exercise more, reduce caloric intake and stress, but doing so over the long term is more difficult. For the solution to be permanent, it has to be a permanent lifestyle change. I hear far too often of people starting “this diet” or “that diet” and their results do not last.
Your new lifestyle will be your “new normal” instead of what has been normal for you in the past (and what has gotten you into this predicament in the first place.)
To lose a pound of weight a week, your body has to burn 3,500 more calories than it takes in. In order to accomplish this, you have to have an exercise program that gets your body into the “fat-burning mode” – generally 30 to 60 minutes a day of intense physical activity, such as running, walking, biking, swimming, or using an elliptical trainer, just to name a few. Find an activity or two that you will enjoy over the long term. There is an excellent exercise program in the Cheeseburger Abs book. And one of the many bonuses you get just for buying the book is a different, exciting exercise program to keep the moves fresh.
Reducing Caloric Intake
Exercising itself is not enough. An hour of intense physical activity will only burn so many calories, so you have to help your body burn more stored fat by watching what you eat.
To do this, ensure you are eating foods low in bad saturated fat and free of trans fat. (That’s right, you can eat saturated fats, they just have to be the right kind.) Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and fiber; reduce your intake of sugar and other simple carbohydrates.
Avoid drinks high in calories, but that don’t provide much nutritional value, such as alcohol and sugary soft drinks. While alcohol alone does not directly increase belly fat, your liver will burn off alcohol calories first before burning stored calories (fat). Also, drinking too much alcohol leads to you feeling hungry and therefore you end up eating more calories than you need, further reducing the amount of stored fat burned.
Excessive stress forces the body to produce a hormone called cortisol. This leads us to eating comfort foods, which are higher in calories. Cortisol also instructs belly fat cells to store more fat.
Exercising, eating nutritional foods, portion control and reducing stress are the keys to losing belly fat and fat in general. Oh … and there isn’t a weight loss program that will actually burn just belly fat, as many of them advertise they can do. Instead, eat smart, exercise and reduce the stress in your life.
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My question for you: What is your biggest challenge to staying consistent with your fat loss/maintenance program?