Did you know that as we age, certain hormone changes cause belly fat? Or that your belly fat may not be the same as the fat on your thighs and hips? There are many misunderstandings about fat, and in this two-part series, you'll come to understand why your belly fat is not going away. Today, we're going to look into the causes of belly fat and how they affect more than just how you perceive yourself in the mirror. Then, in part two, we will discuss what you can do about it.
Subcutaneous Fat VS Visceral Fat
There are two main types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat accounts for about 90% of your total body fat. It lives just beneath the skin. This is the type of fat most of us are familiar with. However, visceral fat makes up approximately 10% of your total body fat and is like an intruder who steals your health and favorite jeans while you're away for the weekend. And it’s also why you can’t shed those extra pounds around your waistline.
As visceral fat accumulates in your abdomen and pushes against the abdominal walls, it causes your waistline to expand, and the upper part of your body accumulates more fat. The biggest problem with visceral fat is that it accumulates deep within the abdominal walls, surrounding your intestines, liver, and other organs, impairing their ability to function properly.
High visceral fat levels also affect your metabolic hormones, leading to other hormone changes throughout the body. And it’s been shown to release inflammatory cytokines and other toxins, which are linked to a higher risk of chronic disease and other symptoms of aging.
This results in a vicious cycle of biological processes, which causes even more belly fat to accumulate. Adults over 40, especially women, tend to have higher visceral fat levels. Ultimately, this can result in a whole host of health problems, including:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Weight Gain
- Insulin resistance
- Fatty liver
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Cardiac issues
- Cholesterol issues
- Type two diabetes
- Liver disease
- Gall bladder disease and gout
- Fertility problems
The most obvious sign of visceral fat is a growing belly; however, that can also be subcutaneous fat. According to certain research, you may have more visceral fat if you have a potbelly or are more "apple-shaped" than "pear-shaped." As we age, our body's ability to break down fat cells also changes, causing us to store more and burn less. And it doesn’t help that many of us have a long history of poor dietary choices, quality of sleep, lack of exercise, and lots of stress.
But there is some good news. Visceral fat is actually much easier to get rid of than subcutaneous fat! In part two of our series on belly fat, we'll go over how you can lose additional belly fat, minimize visceral fat, and have a healthier, leaner body regardless of your present weight, age, or gender.