People with normal body weight are at risk for health complications if they have excess visceral belly fat. Of all the places on your body to have excess fat, the fat in your abdominal region offers the most serious health risks. Belly fat has been linked to heart disease, dementia, various forms of cancer, and other major health problems.
Eliminating belly fat not only boosts your confidence and enhances the appearance of your midsection, but improves your overall health by lowering your risk for serious illness and disease.
Here’s a closer look at why belly fat is so dangerous, and what you can do to eliminate this excess fat from your waistline.
Why is belly fat considered a health threat?
There are two types of fat in your midsection: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat lies directly below your skin and above your abdominal muscles, while visceral fat lies below your abdominal muscles and deeper in your abdominal cavity, surrounding your organs. Visceral fat is more threatening than subcutaneous fat due to the way it triggers inflammation and compromises the health and function of major organs, including your liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
Common factors that lead to harmful belly fat include lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Those who consume high amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugary foods are generally at higher risk for developing visceral belly fat due to the way these foods upset the body’s natural balance of insulin, cortisol, and other hormones. This hormonal upset can lead to type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Simple, effective ways to eliminate belly fat
- Exercise regularly. Aerobic activities like dancing, running, and walking are highly effective at slimming belly fat while naturally reducing inflammation and improving blood flow and hormonal balance. Avoid focusing too much on abdominal exercises, since spot reduction is mainly ineffective at reducing visceral belly fat.
- Reduce carb intake. Refined carbs such as pasta, white bread, and pastries will spike your body’s insulin levels and increase the risk for inflammation and belly fat. Reduce your intake of all refined, processed carbs, and stick to eating complex carbs in the form of whole grains, beans, and vegetables.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks. High sugar intake can overload your liver and prevent it from effectively metabolizing all that fructose — which then gets turned into fat. Replace sugary foods with whole fruit, since the natural fructose in fruit is offset by fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that boost your overall health.
- Increase fiber intake. Foods high in fiber help reduce your appetite by making you feel more full. Consume more healthy whole foods high in fiber such as beans, fruits, and vegetables to reduce belly fat.
- Eat more protein. Protein helps decrease your hunger and appetite, and increases your metabolism to aid in the loss of belly fat. Consume higher amounts of high-protein foods including eggs, fish, and beans.
- Track the foods you’re eating. Keeping track of the foods you eat helps you determine whether your nutrition habits are on par with your weight-loss goals. If you need help developing a healthy, nutritious meal plan, work with a doctor who can customize a meal plan for you based on factors including your age, gender, lifestyle, and more.
Need help developing a weight-loss and nutrition plan that works for you? Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers deliver customized plans, complete with personalized supplements and consistent support to help you reach and maintain your health goals. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on August 28, 2017