Belly Fat and Your HealthAwareness of the health risks brought on by belly fat -- visceral fat that expands in deep into the abdomen among vital organs -- has increased significantly since 2005 when only forty percent of Americans knew of the increased dangers posed by growing waistlines. Belly fat is a primary symptom for metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that increase the risks of heart disease and stroke. Research shows that visceral (belly) fat breaks down into fatty acids which then moves quickly into the liver and into muscle. It increases the risks of type 2 diabetes and heart disease and raises the production of LDL 'bad' cholesterol and triglycerides. There are, of course, steps you can take to reduce that extra belly fat and reverse the effects it has on your health!
- Aerobics. Visceral fat reacts strongly to aerobic exercise. Get your heartrate up! A study published in the American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism found that participants who did aerobic exercise lost 20 times as much visceral fat as those who only lifted weights! Don't drop that strength training though! A number of studies have linked greater muscle strength and muscle mass to lower rates of metabolic syndrome, because it increase the body's resting metabolic rate.
- Eat your protein. Protein builds and preserves lean muscle tissue and uses a higher number of calories for digestion, which helps burn off that fat! Protein also helps ward off hunger, helping the battle against extra snacking.
- Watch Your Fats. Research from Uppsala University demonstrated that saturated fat builds more fat and less muscle than polyunsaturated fat. The study, published in the journal Diabetes, found that the fat composition of food we eat determines where the fat will be stored in our bodies. Saturated fat also negatively effects cholesterol levels in the blood and raises the risk of cardiovascular disease! Add nuts, seeds, and fish to your daily nutritional regimen!
- Sleep! Try to sleep eight hours per day. According to a 2010 Wake Forest University study, sleeping five hours or less each day increases visceral fat levels.
- Green Tea. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 found that the moderate exercisers who consumed green tea were more likely to lose abdominal fat while exercising than those who didn't -- thanks to the antioxidants found in green tea called catechins.