Everyone has some belly fat, even people who have flat abs. That is normal. But too much belly fat can affect your health in a way that other fatty part of the body does not.
Some of your fat is right under your skin. Other fat is deeper inside, around your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.
It is that deeper fat called VISCERAL FAT that may be the bigger problem, even for thin people.
How Much Belly Fat Do You Have?
The most precise way to determine how much visceral fat you have is to get a CT scan or MRI. But there is a much simpler, with no-cost way to check.
Get a measuring tape, wrap it around your waist at your belly button, and check your girth. Do it while you are standing up, and make sure the tape measure is level.
For your health’s sake, you want your waist size to be less than 35 inches if you are a woman and less than 40 inches if you are a man.
Having a pear shape, bigger hips and thighs is considered safer than an apple shape, which describes a wider waistline.
What we are really pointing to with the apple versus pear, Hairston says, is that, if you have more abdominal fat, it is probably an indicator that you have more visceral fat.
Check here for the four keys to controlling belly fat: Exercise, Diet, Sleep, and Stress Management.
1. Exercise: Vigorous exercise trims all your fat, including visceral fat. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week. Walking counts, as long as it’s brisk enough that you work up a sweat and breathe harder, with your heart rate faster than usual.
To get the same results in half the time, step up your pace and get vigorous exercise — like jogging or walking. You’d need to do that for 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week.
2. Diet: There is no magic diet for belly fat. Facts shows that when you lose weight on any diet, belly fat usually goes first.
Getting enough fiber can help. Hairston’s research shows that people who eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day without any other diet changes build up less visceral fat over time than others. That is as simple as eating two small apples, a cup of green peas, or a half-cup of pinto beans.
3. Sleep: Getting the right amount of shut-eye helps keep your belly fit and reduces fat of the belly. In one study, people who got 6 to 7 hours of sleep per night gained less visceral fat over 5 years compared to those who slept 5 or fewer hours per night or 8 or more hours per night. Sleep may not have been the only thing that mattered — but it was part of the picture.
4. Stress: Everyone has stress. learn a stress-free life style and how you handle it life stress matters. The best things you can do include relaxing with friends and family, meditating, exercising to blow off steam, and getting counseling. That leaves you healthier and better prepared to make good choices for yourself.
Remember, larger waistlines are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Losing weight, especially belly fat, also improves blood vessel functioning and also improves sleep quality.