That Fat Around Your Waist is Killing You. Here's What You Can Do.
Having too much abdominal fat might not seem like a big deal, but it is and here's why. Hidden deep in your belly is visceral fat, which wraps around your organs and it's been linked to major health issues like heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and more. It's caused by a number of reasons such as lack of exercise, stress, poor diet and not getting enough sleep. Getting rid of fat around your waist helps reduce visceral fat and lowers the risk for major health concerns. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares tips for getting rid of belly fat. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Stop Fat Shaming
Dr. Mitchell says, "In recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes towards fat and body image. Body positivity movements have helped to challenge the idea that there is only one "acceptable" body type and that fat is always unhealthy. At the same time, medical research has increasingly shown that fat shaming can adversely affect physical and mental health. As a result, it is essential to talk about fat respectfully, acknowledging both the societal stigma and the potential health risks associated with carrying excess fat in certain areas of the body.
Obesity is a complex condition with many causes, and it is essential to remember that not all fat is created equal. Some types of fat, such as subcutaneous fat, are relatively benign, while others, such as visceral fat, can be more dangerous. Additionally, fat distribution matters: carrying more weight around the waist (or "apple shape") is more likely to be associated with health risks than having weight around the hips and thighs ("pear shape"). Thus, when talking about fat, it is essential to consider the type of fat involved and its location on the body.
Finally, it is worth noting that while obesity is often framed as an individual responsibility, it is also shaped by genetics, economic inequality, and food insecurity. Labeling someone as "obese" without considering these broader contexts can be harmful and further stigmatize those struggling with their weight. Ultimately, fat must be discussed in a way that recognizes both its personal and societal implications without resorting to shaming or stigma."
Why Fat Around Your Waist is Unhealthier Than You Think
Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Most people think of obesity as a problem that affects the entire body equally. However, research has shown that where fat is stored in the body can significantly impact health. Fat around the waist, known as abdominal or visceral fat, is particularly harmful. This fat surrounds the organs and releases harmful chemicals that can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance. Visceral fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Therefore, it is essential to reduce abdominal fat, even if the overall weight is within a healthy range. Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can help shrink visceral fat."
Anything Above This Body Percent is Considered Too Obese
According to Dr Mitchell, "To maintain a healthy body, it is essential to have a certain amount of fat. This fat insulates our organs, protects us from injury, and provides our bodies energy. However, too much fat can lead to various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. So how much fat is too much? Healthy adults should have a body fat percentage of 20-25%. Anything above 30% is considered obese, and anything above 40% is considered morbidly obese. Of course, these percentages will vary based on age, gender, and muscle mass. For example, athletes often have a higher body fat percentage because of their increased muscle mass. Nevertheless, the 20-25% range is a good general guideline."
Eat a Healthy Diet
Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "There are many benefits to eating a healthy diet, one of which is visceral fat reduction. Visceral fat is the type of fat that accumulates around the abdominal organs, and it has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats can help to reduce visceral fat and improve overall health. In addition, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are also important factors in reducing visceral fat. You can dramatically reduce your risk of developing chronic health problems by making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle."
"Visceral fat is the type of fat that is stored around your organs," Dr. Mitchell states. "It is different from subcutaneous fat, which is the type of fat that is stored just beneath your skin. Visceral fat has been linked to various health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. As such, it is important to find ways to reduce your visceral fat levels. aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, or swimming are especially practical."
Get 7-9 Hours of Quality Sleep a Night
Dr. Mitchell explains, "There are a few things that play into how sleep can help to reduce visceral fat. For one, your body can regulate its insulin levels better when you sleep. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels, and when it's out of balance, it can lead to increased fat storage – especially in the abdomen. Sleeping also helps to reduce stress hormones like cortisol, leading to increased fat storage. Finally, getting enough rest allows your body to recover from exercise and other physical activity, which can help to burn more calories and promote overall weight loss. Many factors contribute to weight gain, but getting enough sleep is a straightforward way that you can help reduce visceral fat."
Dr. Mitchell says, "It's well-known that chronic stress can lead to weight gain, but did you know that it can also cause you to store more fat around your organs? This type of fat, known as visceral fat, is hazardous because it's associated with various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. So, how exactly does stress lead to visceral fat accumulation?
When you're stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol encourages your body to store more fat and promotes the growth of existing fat cells. In addition, cortisol makes it harder for your body to burn off existing fat stores. As a result, chronic stress can increase both the amount and the size of your visceral fat cells.
So, what can you do to reduce your stress levels and eliminate visceral fat? First, try to identify the sources of your stress and find ways to eliminate them. If that's not possible, find ways better to manage your stress, such as meditation or exercise. Additionally, ensure you get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet. These lifestyle changes can make a positive impact on your health."
Dr. Mitchell says this "doesn't constitute medical advice and by no means are these answers meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it's to encourage discussions about health choices."