Excess body fat is generally considered unsightly and unhealthy, and it can also be the cause of serious illnesses. To fully appreciate the harm fat can do to your health you need to understand the different forms it can take.
The fatty tissue just beneath the surface of your skin is called subcutaneous fat. It may stop you appearing trim and toned, but it’s not particularly harmful unless you carry it in excess. Of greater concern is visceral fat within the body. Visceral fat surrounds your liver, kidneys and pancreas deep in your abdomen. Studies link this type of fat with coronary heart disease, cancer and other serious illnesses.
As well as storing excess energy, visceral fat cells produce hormones and inflammatory substances within the body. There is evidence that inflammation can cause plaque to form within arteries, and this can cause blood clots and blockages to blood flow. Some experts believe that visceral fats release fatty acids and other harmful substances into the liver, and this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
The following tips will help you to improve your health by reducing the amount of visceral fat in your body.
1. Don’t look for quick fixes.
If you want to improve your body composition and reduce visceral fat levels, there are no short-cuts. The solution is likely to involve changing your diet, exercise habits and sleep patterns over the long-term. Weight loss drugs and diet pills are unlikely to help. Visceral fat can be stubborn, so removing it takes time and effort.
Starting with simple steps is the key to success. Over time these can add up to deliver big results and a noticeable difference to your body composition. You don’t need to become a marathon runner or begin a fasting diet to reduce visceral fat levels.
2. Reduce your sugar intake.
The level of sugar in Western diets is of serious concern to health professionals. As well as being used to sweeten desserts, drinks and candy, sugar is a hidden ingredient in many everyday foods. Reading and comparing food labels is a simple way to begin to understand how much added sugar is in your diet. Switch to brands and products with lower levels. Switch to water or diet drinks rather than sugar-laden sodas. Cutting the amount of table sugar you add to things like coffee, cereal and pancakes is an effective way of reducing your intake, and the taste difference is barely noticeable.
3. Increase physical activity levels.
The human body hoards and protects fat stores thanks to genetic programming. Food was scarce for early man, and a diet of feast and famine was common. Modern sedentary lifestyles don’t help, so look for ways to become more active in your daily routine. Exercise doesn’t have to mean trips to the gym. Walking rather than driving or riding public transport and taking the stairs rather than the elevator are two simple ways of burning more calories.
Finding a form of physical exercise you enjoy is the key to long-term success. Forcing yourself to go to the gym or out for a run won’t last long if you dread every minute. Try different activities such as pilates, swimming, martial arts classes or hiking.
4. Increase lean muscle mass.
It isn’t just bodybuilders and athletes who benefit from lean muscle mass. Recent studies suggest that building lean muscle has health benefits beyond athletic performance and an attractive physique. There’s a risk that any kind of diet or weight-loss program can result in reducing muscle as well as body fat. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, eating more calories rather than less may be what you need to do to improve your body composition. The key to building muscle is protein, so look for ways to introduce more lean meat, fish and other protein-rich foods into your diet.
5. Manage your stress levels.
The body produces the steroid hormone cortisol in stressful situations, and this can have an impact on visceral fat levels. Cortisol increases insulin levels and reduces blood sugar leading to a craving for sugary, fatty foods. If cortisol spikes are regular, appetite and metabolism can be affected. By managing your stress levels you can naturally reduce cortisol production. Exercise, taking up a hobby and spending time with friends and family are simple ways to reduce stress. Meditation and mindfulness can help if the pressures of work and everyday life become too much.
Visceral fat levels are a growing concern for health professionals. Poor diet and sedentary lifestyles are often the root of the problem. By following the tips in this article you can reduce the risk of a range of health issues.