Most people think that you need a big fat beer gut – or at least a paunch – in order to be afraid of belly fat.
Unfortunately, that’s just flat out untrue.
The fact of the matter is, even people with washboard abs and 6 packs are still carrying belly fat, and it might be dangerous to their health. I know, it might sound crazy, right?
Well… the reason is because there are 2 types of belly fat. The first kind, which sits right under your skin, is what makes up the “beer belly” that so many people carry around.
The second kind, which is deeper inside your body and wraps itself around your organs, including your heart, liver, and lungs, is called “visceral fat”, and that’s the dangerous kind to look out for (1).
In fact, even people with washboard abs can have dangerous levels of visceral fat – and that can cause health problems immediately and down the road. It’s about a lot more than just looks.
So What Is Visceral Fat?
Visceral fat isn’t bad, per se. Your body needs some of it, because it will cushion your major organs and keep them safe.
Too much of it is a huge disaster. It increases your chances of breast cancer, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease, high blood pressure… the list goes on(2).
That’s because visceral fat in your body doesn’t just sit doing nothing, it excretes all sorts of harmful substances that can wreak havoc on your health.
The risk of too much visceral fat increases as a person trends towards obesity – because the body has no normal places left to store the fat, and so it stores it around the major organs in the form of visceral fat.
How Do You Tell How Much Visceral Fat You Have?
You could go to the doctor and get a ct scan or an mri to find out for sure – but that’s crazy expensive and it’s probably overkill.
Instead, use this simple, low cost method instead – just take a measuring tape and wrap it around your waist right at belly button level(3).
You want to be standing up to do this measurement. Women should aim for 35 inches or less, men should aim for 40 inches or less. If your waistline at your belly button is wider than your hips, it’s considered an “apple shape”.
Doctors consider an “apple shape” to be less safe than a “pear shape”, where your waistline measurement at your hips is wider than at your belly button.
That’s because an “apple shape” generally indicates that you have more abdominal fat, and thus more visceral fat.
The truth is, even thin people can have visceral fat. Your visceral fat levels are controlled partially by your genes, but mostly by your lifestyle.
Studies have found that inactive people are more likely to have visceral fat, and that thin people who dieted but didn’t exercise were far more likely to have excess visceral fat.
Here’s Exactly How To Beat Belly Fat
So if you want to beat belly fat, here are the 4 steps necessary to doing it:
1. More Exercise
Like I just said, exercise is the key step towards beating visceral fat, because sedentary and inactive people are much more likely to develop unhealthy levels of visceral fat.
Try working out for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. You’re aiming to have your heart rate rise and to break a sweat with this exercise.
If you want to cut down on the time exercising, you can try jogging or walking at a vigorous pace to really get your heart rate up. You can do that for 20 minutes, 4 times a week.
You can slow down the rate of visceral fat spread by doing moderate, low intensity exercise, but if you really want to turn back the clock on visceral fat in your body, you need to step up your exercise intensity.
2. Eat Better
Your diet is also in control of how much visceral fat your body gains. If you want to start cutting down on visceral fat, focus on what you’re putting into your body.
If you’re looking for an easy and quick change, try eating more fiber. Studies have found that people who eat 10 grams or more of soluble fiber every day wind up with less visceral fat than others.
That’s not much – just a half cup of pinto beans or a couple small apples. If you make this one change, it could greatly help your belly fat levels.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Want to get rid of belly fat? Sick of being tired all the time? You’re in luck! You can kill two birds with one stone!
Just get at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night. You’ll gain less visceral fat over time than those who only sleep for 5 hours or less.
4. Handle Your Stress
Unless you’re a billionaire who has a team of experts handle every aspect of your life (and even then), you’re going to have stress.
But if you want to cut down on the amount of belly fat you build up, handling your stress matters, and it matters bigtime.
Try relaxing with friends and family, or exercising, or even trying meditating to mitigate the effects of stress. If none of that works, you could try counseling. Whatever it is – cutting down on your stress will also cut down on your belly fat, and leave you healthier in the long run.