Being overweight in general is problematic in numerous ways—it hampers quality of life and increases your risk for a host of diseases. In recent years, research has been uncovering the dangers of abdominal fat (visceral fat) which lies deep, surrounding your organs. Compared to subcutaneous fat–which lies right beneath your skin– it appears to be much more active. It appears to encourage the production of chemicals that increase your risk for heart disease. It also negatively impacts cholesterol production and how your body uses insulin; it may also increase your risk for getting certain types of cancers. If you are seriously overweight, add the extreme dangers of belly fat to the list of reasons why you should be trying to lose those extra pounds. If abdominal fat is of particular concern, there are some strategies that have been shown to reduce it specifically and the good news is, you will lose fat everywhere else on your body as well.
You hear a lot about why you should choose whole grains over refined grains—they have a richer store of nutrients, more fiber and help keep blood sugar stable to name a few benefits. Based on a study at Pennsylvania State University, helping reducing belly fat may be another reason to opt for these foods rather than their refined counterparts. Researchers studied two groups of people who were following a similar calorie-restricted diet, with one group eating whole grains and the other eating refined. Though both groups lost weight, the whole grain-eaters lost more belly fat; this group also experienced a reduction in levels of the substance CRP, which can be used to see how much inflammation is present in the body.
Like whole grains, you have probably heard a lot about choosing ‘’good’’ fats over ‘’bad’’ fats. Mainly associated with heart-health benefits, monounsaturated fats—one of the good guys—offer numerous other benefits as well. According to a study that was published in Diabetes Care, a diet rich in monounsaturated fats may help curb abdominal fat. Researchers had participants follow three diets for a period of 28 days each—one rich in monounsaturated fat, one rich in saturated fat and the third rich in carbohydrates. The monounsaturated-rich diet led to the greatest reduction in belly fat. Good sources of monounsaturated fat include olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados.
Artificially produced trans fats appear to be the most dangerous fat of all and does not offer any sort of health benefit. For this reason, it is best to eat as little as possible. Animal research conducted at Wake Forest University compared the effects of a diet where the primary fat was trans fat and a diet where the main fat was monounsaturated fat on abdominal fat; both diets contained similar amounts of fat at 8 percent of total calories. After 6 years, the monkeys eating the trans fats experienced significant weight gain overall as well as an increase in abdominal fat. They also had reduced insulin sensitivity, meaning their bodies were not efficiently processing this important hormone. Read food labels carefully; the Food and Drug Administration allow products to list trans fats as zero if they contain less than .5 grams per serving. It does not sound like a lot but it can add up. If the ingredients list hydrogenated oils, it has trans fats.
Resistance training should be a part of any weight loss routine. It helps build muscle mass, which requires more energy to maintain than fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Several studies have also found it reduces abdominal fat specifically. You should aim for 8 to 10 exercises that cover all the major muscle groups with each exercise being performed for at least one set of 8 to 10 repetitions for two days a week. Examples of resistance training include free weights, resistance bands, lunges and squats.
You hear a lot about getting 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise in at least 5 days a week to maintain your health. When it comes to weight loss however, you may need to step up you game, especially if you want to lose that dangerous abdominal fat. Researchers at Duke University found that people who walked or jogged 12 miles a week or equivalent exercise kept their visceral fat at bay with no increases while jogging 20 miles a week or equivalent exercise actually led to a reduction in visceral fat and subcutaneous fat. You may need to start off with less than this and that is fine, just start doing something and eventually you can increase intensity and duration.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics related to health, ranging from diet plans to tips on healthy weight loss. If you are interested in a structured diet program that provides food delivery, follow the links for a review of diet to go plan or ediet online coupons. Kelli is a frequent poster at Make the List as well as a variety of other sites that cover health issues. She managed to turn her passion for sharing knowledge about living a healthier life into a freelance writing career and she uses her income to fund her travels around the world.