Belly fat doesn’t just sit idly at your waistline. Researchers describe it as an active “organ” in your body – one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances.
Abdominal fat is believed to break down into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and muscle. When these fatty acids drain into the liver, they trigger a chain reaction which increases the production of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. When this happens, insulin can become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance can set it.
So Why Is Belly Fat Harmful to your Health?
When blood sugars get out of balance, and fats and clots enter into the bloodstream it sets the stage for diabetes, heart disease and more research also shows that abdominal fat triggers changes in angiotensin, a hormone that controls the constriction of blood vessels, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.
How do You Solve the Belly Fat Problem?
While your genes can somewhat dictate your body shape, the story doesn’t end there. Most belly fat is related to lifestyle choices including physical inactivity and or poor nutrition.
Exercise is one contributor to losing belly fat. Walking, running and biking are a few activities that can help if done on a regular basis. Make a goal to exercise at least 30-60 minutes most days of the week.
While exercise is always important, the nutrition that you give your body plays an equal (and sometimes greater) role. Be sure to pay attention to your portion sizes, and make sure your meals include complex carbs ex. fruits, vegetables and whole grains. When you can, opt for lean proteins instead of some that are higher in fat. Stay away from white bead, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Also, be careful to watch where the fat in your food comes from, replacing saturated and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats may help rid some of your belly fat.
Here are some other simple tips to follow:
- Avoid Processed Foods: Ingredients in packaged foods and snacks can be heavy in trans fats, added sugar, and sodium – which are three things that can make it difficult to lose weight.
- Read Your Food Labels: Compare and contrast brands for the foods that you purchase. Ex. some yogurts advertise that they are low in fat, but they are higher in carbs and added sugars than others. Salad dressings can also contain high amounts fat and calories.
- Work on an Eating Plan instead of a Diet: Pick habits and make a plan that works for you, and something that you can stick to.