We all know being overweight is unhealthy, but excess fat around your abdomen can be especially risky.
“Belly fat is a sign that we’re carrying a different type of fat that lies deeper in our bodies — visceral fat — which surrounds our organs,” says Dr. Helen Troncoso, DPT, Ms. New York America 2012 and CEO of Reinventing You, LLC.
Here, Troncoso shares why belly fat is harmful to your health — plus how to banish it once and for all.
Belly Fat Breakdown
Belly fat is visceral fat, which differs from the subcutaneous fat that we can see and pinch. “Numerous studies have linked high levels of visceral fat to insulin resistance, which makes us vulnerable to developing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers,” says Troncoso.
There are two common culprits that contribute to excess abdominal weight:
Excessive stress over a period of time can cause your body to react by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol stimulates your liver to release more glucose, which makes you feel hungrier and causes you to eat more.
Set aside some “me time” for stress-relieving activities like meditation, yoga or just dancing to Shakira.
Even foods that have the same number of calories should not be treated equal. Calories with no nutritional value (think soda, white bread and sweets) are big offenders. “They overload our liver trying to process these foods, and ends up turning it into fat,” says Troncoso. Excess sugar in junk food is said to be one of the leading causes of belly fat.
Craving sweets? Grab a cup of berries. Need some carbs? Choose wheat bread or brown rice. Also start making smarter choices in how you cook your favorite foods (less oil and salt) and the sizes of the portions you eat in one sitting.
Belly Fat Be Gone
Most women juggle family, friends, work commitments and more, so it’s easy to get off track. The trick to banishing belly fat is to put aside any excuses: Just 30 minutes of exercise each day is all it takes to get started.
There is no secret to losing weight: “Good nutrition and exercising four to five times per week will keep you fit and clear from belly fat and a slew of other dangerous diseases,” says Troncoso. When it comes to dieting, forget extreme diets and instead aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. This is the most effective way to lose the weight and keep it off.
It’s important to embrace a new lifestyle in which you can still enjoy the foods you love, but be smart about what you eat and how often you exercise.