by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Although this picture depicts an extremely overweight man, this article applies to dangerous types of fat inside the bodies of both men and women… and this discussion also applies even if you only have a slight amount of excess stomach fat.
Did you know that the vast majority of people in this day and age have excess abdominal fat? It’s true — as much as 70% of the population in some “westernized” countries such as the US and Australia are now considered either overweight or obese. The first thing that most people think of is that their extra abdominal fat is simply ugly, is covering up their abs from being visible, and makes them self conscious about showing off their body.
However, what most people don’t realize is that excess abdominal fat in particular, is not only ugly, but is also a dangerous risk factor to your health. Scientific research has clearly determined that although it is unhealthy in general to have excess body fat throughout your body, it is also particularly dangerous to have excess abdominal fat.
There are two types of fat that you have in your abdominal area. The first type that covers up your abs from being visible is called subcutaneous fat and lies directly beneath the skin and on top of the abdominal muscles.
The second type of fat that you have in your abdominal area is called visceral fat, and that lies deeper in the abdomen beneath your muscle and surrounding your organs. Visceral fat also plays a role in giving certain men that “beer belly” appearance where their abdomen protrudes excessively but at the same time, also feels sort of hard if you push on it.
Both subcutaneous fat and visceral fat in the abdominal area are serious health risk factors, but science has shown thathaving excessive visceral fat is even more dangerous than subcutaneous fat. Both types of fat greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, various forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases.
Excess stomach fat has also been associated in studies with higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation within the body that can lead to heart disease and other health issues.
Part of the reason visceral fat is particularly dangerous is that studies show that it releases more inflammatory molecules into your system on a consistent basis.
One of the major reasons that some people accumulate more visceral fat than others can be from a high carbohydrate diet that leads to insulin resistance over time (years of bombarding your system with too much sugars and starches for your body to properly handle the constant excess blood sugar) … and studies show that high fructose intake particularly from high-fructose corn syrup can be a major contributor to excess visceral fat.
If you care about the quality of your life and your loved ones, reducing your abdominal fat (including reducing visceral fat) should be one of your TOP priorities! There’s just no way around it. Besides, a side effect of finally getting rid of all of that excessive abdominal fat is that your stomach will flatten out, and if you lose enough stomach fat, you will be able to visibly see those attractive six pack abs that everyone wants.
So what gets rid of extra abdominal fat, including visceral fat?
Is there actually a REAL solution beyond all of the gimmicks and hype that you see in ads and on commercials for “miracle” fat loss products?
The first thing you must understand is that there is absolutely NO quick fix solution. There are no pills or supplements of any sort that will help you lose your abdominal fat faster. Also, none of the gimmicky ab rockers, rollers, or ab belts will help get rid of abdominal fat either. You can’t spot reduce your stomach fat by using any of these worthless contraptions. It simply doesn’t work that way.
The only solution to consistently lose your abdominal fat and keep it off for good is to combine a sound nutritious diet full of unprocessed natural foods with a properly designed strategic exercise program that stimulates the necessary hormonal and metabolic response within your body. Both your food intake as well as your training program are important if you are to get this right.
I’ve actually even seen a particular study that divided thousands of participants into a diet-only group and an exercise & diet combined group. While both groups in this study made good progress, the diet-only group lost significantly LESS abdominal fat than the diet & exercise combined group.
Now the important thing to realize is that just any old exercise program will not necessarily do the trick. The majority of people that attempt getting into a good exercise routine are NOT working out effectively enough to really stimulate the loss of stubborn abdominal fat. I see this every day at the gym.
Most people will do your typical boring ineffective cardio routines, throw in a little outdated body-part style weight training, and pump away with some crunches and side bends, and think that they are doing something useful for reducing their abdominal fat. Then they become frustrated after weeks or months of no results and wonder where they went wrong.
Well, the good news is that I’ve spent over a decade researching this topic, analyzing the science, and applying it “in the trenches” with myself as well as thousands of my clients from all over the world to see what works to really stimulate abdominal fat loss.
From my research, two of the most important aspects to getting rid of visceral fat are:
1. The use of high intensity forms of exercise and full-body resistance training. Low intensity cardio exercise simply isn’t as effective for removing visceral fat in particular. High intensity exercise such as interval training or full-body weight training are very effective at helping to improve your body’s ability to manage glucose and increases insulin sensitivity, a crucial step in removing visceral fat. These types of high intensity exercise routines are also very effective at increasing your fat-burning hormones and creating a hormonal environment conducive to burning off abdominal fat, including visceral fat.
2. In addition, it’s vitally important to get blood sugar under control to help restore insulin sensitivity through the right nutrition. This means greatly reducing sugars and refined starches in your diet (including fully eliminating any use of harmful high fructose corn syrup!), and focusing more of your diet on healthy fats (such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut fat, olive oil, free-range eggs, fatty fish and fish oils, etc), as well as increasing protein and fiber intake. The standard diet recommended by the government, which contains an unnaturally high grain intake is NOT conducive to controlling blood sugar and reducing visceral fat!
Reducing grain-based foods in your diet and getting more of your carbs from veggies and high fiber fruits such as berries can go a long way to helping to solve this problem.