Visceral fat or Intra-Abdominal fat is located inside the abdominal cavity tucked in between the internal organs and torso as opposed to the subcutaneous fat that is stored beneath the skin. Excess amount of visceral fat in the abdominal region can be detrimental to health. Many research studies reveal how the unflattering abdominal fat sets the stage for many dreadful diseases such as Cardiovascular ailments, Diabetes and stroke in later life.
In this article, we explore reasons for the build -up of visceral fat in men, ways to assess, prevent and get rid of this excess baggage around your abdomen.
Causes of belly fat
Measuring visceral fat
- Gender: Men, as compared to women store excess fat in the abdomen than on the hips and thighs. This difference in the pattern of fat distribution is mainly observed due to the male Hormone testosterone that predisposes men to stock up extra fat around their abdomen rather than in other areas of the body, thus making them acquire an apple shape.
- Hereditary: You may inherit certain Genes that can affect your chances of being overweight or Obese and which also influences the pattern in which the extra fat is accumulated in your body.
- Stress: Research studies suggest that increased levels of stress can promote excessive accumulation of abdominal fat. This is because stress increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which stimulates the deposition of fat in the abdominal region.
- Others: In men, the blobs of fat in the abdominal region could also be due to excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks, unhealthy eating regime and a sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise).
Waist circumference is considered to be a good index of determining the level of abdominal fat in the body. Place a measuring tape around the bare abdominal region above your hipbone in a manner that it snugly fits in around your body and does not make you feel uncomfortable. Breathe out (exhale) while ensuring that the tape is at an appropriate level all around and then take the measurement. A waist size of over 40 inches in men is a cause of concern, as the chances of several diseases increase with a waist-size of over 40.
Waist-hip ratio can also help in determining the amount of fat accumulation in the abdominal region. Measure your waist at the navel and then at your hips at their widest point. By dividing the two measurements (waist size with hip size), you arrive at the ratio known as waist-hip ratio. A ratio of 1.0 or above,in men is associated with many health concerns.
Tips to prevent and reduce visceral fat
Spot exercisessuch as crunches, sit ups and so on are advised by a number of people, but the truth is that they cannot reduce belly fat. These exercises only strengthen the abdominal muscles. It is not possible to reduce fat from one area of the body to the exclusion of other areas.Such exercise might help reduce overall body fat percentage and shrink the size of fat Cells.
Belly fat can be best reduced by employing a combination of exercises and dietary modifications.
Even with regards to exercise, a combination of exercises is necessary, such as aerobic, weight training and anaerobic exercises. The right approach here is to have a coach under whose supervision you can incorporate an exercise regime. Apart from exercises, you need to eat right: foods that help you burn more calories, especially from fat.
To reduce abdominal fat, the first step is to reduce weight. To reduce weight,incorporate an effective dietary and exercise regime. This can play a vital role in keeping the overall body fat in proportion.
Moderate calorie restriction to bring about weight loss thus can help to reduce visceral fat. However going overboard with calorie reduction can do more harm than good. It can push your body into the starvation mode,slowing the metabolic rate and thereby making it stock up excess fat.
It’s important to incorporate foods that accelerate the rate at which your body burns fat. Swap the unhealthy high-fat, refined foods and sugary beverages with more ofthese:
At the same time, you should remove some harmful foods from your platter altogether. Banish foods containing more of trans fats such as deep fried food items, cookies, crackers, chips, dough nuts, margarine etc. Trans fats increase the likelihood of having heart problems and of fat being deposited in the abdominal region.Reduce the portion sizes of food in your plate, eat small meals throughout the day, drink plenty of fluids (water) and stay active.
- Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that help to keep weight in check and improves the lipid profile.
- Lean meatsare rich in proteins; to digest proteins, the body requires more time and energy. This holds true for any protein-rich foods you eat,from plant or animal sources. In addition to helping your body burn more calories, protein rich foods also promote satiety, thereby keeping you fuller for a longer period of time and helping you deal with hunger pangs. Other sources include egg whites, chicken, fish, legumes,pulses, milk and milk products.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables contain fiber that takes more time and energy to process. This helps you to burn more calories and get rid of the stubborn fat that doesn’t budge. Besides, fruits and vegetables are also rich in other nutrients that are essential for performing various functions in your body.
- Whole grains, which are abundant in nutrients like complex carbohydrates and fiber help, improve Insulin sensitivity. Thus, as compared to what happens when you eat a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, the change sin the glucose and Insulin response that takes place when you consume whole grains rather aids the fat mobilization process. This means that the body utilizes blood glucose more efficiently by reducing the blood glucose levels and minimizing fat deposition.
- Soluble fiber present in apples, oats and cherries helps in lowering the Insulin levels that also reduces the levels of cortisol, a Hormone responsible for increasing deposits of fat in the abdominal region.
Research studiessuggest that a good combination of weight training and aerobic exercises can serve the best way to loose the stubborn visceral fat.Start with a brief warm up for about 5 -10 minutes to prepare your muscles for any exercise session.
A well structured gym routine under the guidance of a certified fitness professional may help you to follow a disciplined exercise pattern that would target the pesky abdominal fat.
Supplement your weight training or gym routine with some cardio based exercises like cycling, running, jogging or brisk walking, and jumping rope. They not only aim to improve the oxygen flow throughout your body but also keep you energetic as your body gets equipped to burning more of carbohydrates in the presence of good amount of oxygen supply.
On the whole, you should focus on lowering your total body fat by being nutrition-savvy and staying physically active.
Preventing visceral fat
Health expertssuggest that adults should get at least 30 to 45 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity, as part of their lifestyle. This, together with a balanced calorie diet, works as the best way to prevent visceral fat.