Let’s talk about belly fat. What is it, why is it dangerous and what are you going to do about it?
What is it?
Belly fat is the common name for a condition known as abdominal obesity. There are two different kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat tends to accumulate in the lower body (the pear shape) and is the type of fat that you can pinch. Subcutaneous fat is problematic but is not considered to be as great of a health risk as visceral fat. When there is a large accumulation of fat in the abdominal area (the apple shape), this is usually visceral fat. While subcutaneous fat tends to be closer to the surface, visceral fat lays out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our organs. In a nutshell: belly fat = visceral fat.
Why is it dangerous?
When the circumference of the waist exceeds the circumference of the hips, it poses a significant health risk regardless of total body fat. Excess visceral fat has been linked to the development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In women, it is also associated with breast cancer and the need for gallbladder surgery.
In English this time?
Excessive belly fat is not only bad for the bikini, it’s very hazardous to your health!
What are you going to do about it?
Now this is the really loaded question but I’m sure you can guess the answer. Is there a magic pill that will do the work for you while you change nothing? Short answer: No. Diet and exercise, i.e., lifestyle change is what’s going to make the difference.
To quote Jillian Michaels, “You can eat your way through any workout”, meaning that it doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you still consume more calories than you burn. Here’s the straight scoop. For the body to burn fat, it must use more fuel than it consumes. This is referred to as creating a caloric deficit. It takes a caloric deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1, yeah – just 1, pound of fat. In order to set a schedule of losing 1 pound a week it is necessary to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day.
Now before you flip out and decide that starvation must be the only solution, and me assure you that starvation is not the solution, it is important to understand that it takes a certain amount of calories for the body to function at all. No calories = no function. Get it? This minimum number of required calories is known as the Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR and is determined by your height, weight, age and gender. To determine your BMR, here is a handy BMR calculator http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/
Your daily caloric intake should never be less than your BMR.
Here are a few diet tips to help you.
#1 The refined sugar has got to go. This is including and especially referring to soda and other sweetened beverages like sweet tea or Kool-Aid and many sport drinks. Read labels!
#2 Minimize or eliminate Wheat Gluten. Did you ever see that movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? There is a wonderful scene where Scott (Michael Cera) is talking to Ramona Flowers about bread. Rather than explain, just watch this 7 second video
Yes, bread makes you fat.
#3 Limit caffeine. I love coffee just as much, and probably more, than the average person but here’s the thing. Excessive caffeine kicks your body into fight-or-flight mode. This would be a good thing if maybe you were being chased by a lion, not so good while sitting at a computer checking email. While the adrenals are pumping out epinephrine and norepinephrine they set into motion a cascade of fattening hormonal actions. Your liver releases blood sugar for quick energy, your pancreas spits our insulin to counter the sugar, and your blood sugar dips because of the insulin. Also, your blood vessels constrict making you feel like your blood sugar is crashing even harder and what do you do? Head straight for the vending machine to find something, anything, to help you return to feeling normal.
#4 While I encourage everyone to do their own research, I am a fan of the Whole Food Diet. Can’t go wrong by eliminating processed foods.
Gonna say this right off. There is no such thing as spot burning fat. What that means is that you can do ab crunches till infinity, and get some really ripped rectus abdominis muscles that no one will see because they’re still under all the fat.
While core strength is vitally important to every aspect of fitness and should never be ignored, most ab strengthening exercises do not burn very many calories.
Here are a few exercise tips to help you strengthen your abdominal muscles while blasting the heart rate and burning fat at the same time.
#1 Standing Mountain Climbers – Like running in place with high knees but add the arms in too. Run in place while popping the knees as high as you can while at the same time reaching or “climbing” overhead with the arms. Begin the move with the right knee and the left arm raised, then alternate. Light hand weights are optional.
#2 Standing Pike Kicks – From a standing position reach both arms forward at chest level or higher and alternate front kicks. Kick as high as you can, try to kick your hands. Do this move as fast as you can while maintaining stability.
#3 180 Jumps – That’s jumping 180 degrees, not necessarily jumping 180 times! Like a jump squat but with a turn. Begin with the feet at shoulder width apart, drop down in the knees and jump, use your core to turn your body in the air and land facing the opposite direction.
#4 Burpees – Start in a standing position. Drop down, bending the knees and planting the hands on the floor. Jump or step back into plank. Jump or step the feet back up between the hands and stand up. For extra fun, add in a jump at the end of the move when you stand back up.
Perform all of these fat blasting exercises as fast as you can while maintaining stability for 30 seconds. Intensity is the key to higher calorie burn BUT if you feel that you are losing your balance or are becoming light headed, listen to your body and SLOW DOWN.
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Book: “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels