Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Risks of Excessive Abdominal Fat

The Truth About Abdominal Fat
Abdominal fat is nothing to mess around with. Studies have proven that men and women with excessive abdominal fat are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer, which will likely lead to an early death. "Beer bellies" and "muffin tops" are just as significant of a risk factor as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or having high cholesterol.
Women typically store fat in their butt and hips, while men tend to store it in their abdominal area, putting men at a greater risk. Specifically, women with waists larger than 35 inches and men with waists 40 inches or more, are about twice as likely to die prematurely of heart disease or cancer.
Visceral Fat vs Subcutaneous Fat
Visceral Fat is the fat around your internal organs, while subcutaneous fat is that annoying fat covering up that six pack. While most everyone hates their subcutaneous fat, that is not the kind you need to be most concerned with. The fact is that visceral fat is more closely linked with health problems than obesity in general. Because visceral fat is so much closer to the intestines, it is easily absorbed into the blood stream, which often ends up clogging the coronary arteries. Clogged arteries can lead to hypertension, diabetes, and many other metabolic problems.
How to tell if you have too much belly fat?
People who gain belly fat are at greater risk of serious health problems, even death, than are people who accumulate fat in other areas. Since men are more likely than women to gain weight around the waist, they should not take their measurements lightly.
Your waist size alone can give you a good estimate of whether or not you have too much belly fat. All you need is a tape measure. To measure your waist:
1. Place a tape measure around your abdomen just above your hipbone.
2. Pull the tape measure until it fits snuggly around you but is not pushing into your skin.
3. Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
4. Do not suck in your belly!
If you are a women and your abdomen measurement is >35 inches, or if you're a man with a measurement >40 inches, you may be at risk of developing the following:
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Some types of cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • High triglycerides
  • Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
How to Reduce Belly Fat (Diet and Exercise)
Belly fat can be reduced substantially by eating whole grain products rather than refined, due to the fact that whole grains have more volume and fewer calories that keep you satisfied longer. Studies have shown that whole grains "reduce blood sugar levels after a meal because they take longer to digest." Basically, replacing refined grains with whole grains as part of a balanced diet is not only beneficial to your cardiovascular health, but can help you lose abdominal fat as well.
Another way to reduce belly fat is to train the whole body. Spot reduction does not work, so don't waste your time doing a million sit-ups. Strength training and aerobics improve insulin sensitivity and burn calories, which helps to get rid of fat all over the body, including visceral fat. The really good news is that visceral fat is usually the first to go, however, that also means that subcutaneous fat may hang around a little while longer. But don't think that exercise isn't doing a thing for you if your six pack isn't showing; getting rid of that visceral fat will help improve your overall health and may just save your life!

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