A protruding abdomen and hidden fat will increase the risk of many chronic diseases, and people with a “thin” appearance should not be ignored either. However, some methods that emphasize a “thin belly” and eliminating belly fat can be disappointing.
Visceral Fat Shouldn’t Be Ignored, A Healthy Weight Can Be Deceiving
Human body fat is divided into subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is under the skin and can be pinched with hands, while visceral fat cannot be pinched.
Visceral fat consists of fatty tissue that surrounds digestive organs such as the heart, lungs, liver and intestines, and makes up about one-tenth of all fat in the body. For people with a protruding lower abdomen and an apple-shaped body, excess abdominal fat is only the tip of the visible fat iceberg.
Visceral fat itself acts as a cushion to protect the internal organs. However, when people eat too many calories, visceral fat increases and accumulates in the abdomen, leading to abdominal obesity, which will threaten health. For example, there is an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Because visceral fat can be considered an endocrine organ that secretes hormones and other substances that have a profound effect on health. Too much visceral fat will disrupt the balance and function of hormones in the body.
The easiest place to observe the amount of visceral fat is the waist circumference.
The Taiwan Ministry of Health and Welfare standard is that healthy men’s waist circumference should be less than 90 cm (about 35 inches), and women’s waist circumference should be less than 80 cm (about 31 inches).
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that waist circumference should not exceed 40 inches (102 cm) for men and 35 inches (89 cm) for women.
But even people who appear thin face these risks as long as they have too much belly fat.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of obesity based on height and weight, obtained by dividing weight (in kilograms) by the square of height (in metres), and does not itself measure body fat in direct. A healthy weight BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9kg/m2. The American Heart Association states that BMI is in the healthy range, but people with excess abdominal fat and visceral fat also increase the risk of heart disease. Also, people with a BMI classified as obese but with low abdominal fat had a lower risk of heart disease.
A large British study found that regardless of BMI category (<25, 25-29.9, ≥30 kg/m2), the risk of coronary heart disease will increase with increased waist circumference.
Another reality is that as people enter middle age, fat tends to increase as a percentage of body weight, and extra fat tends to accumulate around the abdomen. Especially in postmenopausal women, body fat tends to accumulate towards the abdomen.
Visceral fat promotes dementia and is linked to cancer
More and more studies have found that visceral fat is associated with many chronic diseases and risks of death. In addition to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, others include:
Dementia:A 36-year study found that people with the most abdominal obesity in middle age had almost three times the risk of developing dementia three decades later than those with the least abdominal obesity.
cancer:More and more studies have concluded that excess visceral fat is an important risk factor for esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney cancer and cancer the prostate.
Risk of premature death:A study published in the British Medical Journal found that having more visceral fat was associated with a higher risk of early death, regardless of total body fat. For every 10 cm increase in waist circumference, the risk of all-cause mortality increased by 11%.
liver disease:Excess visceral fat can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease If left untreated, it can gradually progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
asthma:A study of 88,304 women at the Northern California Cancer Center found that a waist circumference greater than 88 cm was associated with an increased risk of asthma in overweight people and women with a normal BMI.
Depression:A survey of more than 2,000 adults over the age of 20 in the United States found that abdominal obesity was associated with a significant increase in major depression and moderate to severe depression.
“Partial weight loss” does not exist 2 old methods are the most effective
People may see some advertisements on the Internet that are said to be able to get rid of belly fat or literature to get rid of belly fat. However, their results can be disappointing.
Because “partial weight loss does not exist”, Wang Siheng, director of Neihu Hengxin Rehabilitation Clinic, said bluntly. He pointed out that abdominal exercise cannot target abdominal fat to eliminate fat; neither can the arm exercise target fat in the arms.
To eliminate protruding belly fat, the most reliable method is the old method: diet calorie control and exercise. However, medication is less effective than exercise in reducing visceral fat.
Although both aerobic exercise and weight training burn calories, a meta-analysis showed that moderate to intense aerobic exercise has a greater effect on visceral fat than less intense aerobic exercise or weight training.
Moderate to intense aerobic exercise can consume more calories, such as running and flywheel, it is recommended to exercise 150 minutes a week and persevere. High intensity interval training (HIIT) can also help reduce fat, but it must be suitable for people with a foundation in exercise. “I often meet people who do not exercise much at regular intervals, suddenly do high-intensity exercise, and then get injured,” Wang Siheng said.
But are exercises for the lower abdomen, such as sit-ups, useless? Although sit-ups can tighten the abdominal muscles, they cannot eat much visceral fat.
Wang Siheng emphasized that heavy training cannot target the elimination of abdominal fat, which is completely accumulated due to excessive calorie intake. So, exercise is very important, but the overall effect is not good, and the focus is still on diet control.
Think about it, a 60-kg person doing moderate intensity aerobic exercise for an hour consumes 300-400 calories, which is only about the same as a packet of French fries. One kilogram of fat contains around 7,700 calories, so how long should you exercise? He advises not to ignore diet because exercise is used as a weight loss tool, because the results will definitely be disappointing.
A small study also found that eating a low calorie diet had a greater effect on eliminating visceral fat than exercise.
Lu Mengfan, a nutritionist at the New Generation Clinic in Taipei, pointed out that the most empirical evidence for a weight loss diet is a calorie deficit, that is, the calories consumed are less than the calories consumed. But he stressed, “Diet and exercise cannot reduce fat locally, but they can only reduce body fat comprehensively, but it is not certain which part everyone will lose first.”
When implementing a calorie deficit diet, first try to reduce the intake of refined sugar and increase the amount of dietary fiber and high quality protein.
Because modern people’s dietary fiber intake is generally insufficient, it is recommended to eat more than 2 bowls of vegetables and 1-2 bowls of fruit each day. For the main food, replace “refined starch” with “whole grains” as much as possible. Whole grains include: brown rice, oats, barley, red beans, mung beans, sweet potatoes, corn, etc. . For high quality protein, beans and fish are the first priority, followed by eggs, and finally red meat.
Lu Mengfan said she had met some people who were afraid of taking fats in order to lose weight, but fats are also necessary nutrients. As long as you manage your calories properly and choose fats with a higher percentage of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, you can eat healthily. She reminded that even if it’s a good oil or a good grain, eating too much will make you fat, so the focus is still on calorie control.
Wang Siheng added that low-calorie diets can make people feel hungry, In order to balance a low-calorie diet and satiety, it is better to eat enough protein and fiber, as well as low-process foods. In this way, other high-calorie junk foods cannot be eaten too much, and the overall calorie intake will naturally decrease.
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Responsible editor: Li Qingfeng