Remember creepy old guys from the cartoons with significantly big bellies and skinny legs? Back in the day, it seemed hilarious and quite amusing. How does it feel now when you embody one of these cartoon heroes? Probably, it’s not funny anymore. Adulthood is full of work, duties, and worries; we don’t even notice what and how much we eat, spending most of the time in front of the screen – either on workload or entertainment. Sooner or later, instead of enjoying music videos, you’ll search for different types of belly fat and how to get rid of them. We have prepared everything you need to know about belly fat types and ways to fight them. Let’s dig deeper.
What Is Fat?
Fat tissue, fatty tissue, and adipose tissue – many names for one thing – is a connective tissue mainly composed of fat cells . Many people, unaware of the functional value of fatty tissue, blame fat for causing extra weight and health implications. However, when in a balanced state, fat tissue is one of the body regulators:
- it stores excess energy in the form of fatty molecules
- it functions as insulation of the body against extreme temperature
- it cushions and protects parts of the body
- it takes part in hormone synthesis.
When people don’t follow a healthy lifestyle, consume lots of food, more than required, and don’t do anything to burn the energy they take in, the fat tissue gets bigger, and the storage is full and expanding. The visible part is belly fat, saddle bags, bigger thighs, etc.
What Are The Types Of Belly Fats?
When talking about belly fat, we can distinguish two types: subcutaneous and visceral.
Subcutaneous fat is something that you can pinch. It can be found just under your skin. In the balanced state, subcutaneous fat is good for your body and helps protect it:
- It pads your muscles and bones to protect you from bumps and falls.
- It’s a connection for blood vessels and nerves to get from your skin to your muscles.
- It controls and regulates body temperature according to the temperature outside.
When being in excess, subcutaneous fat can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, insulin resistance, stroke, and more. The best way to lose excess subcutaneous fat is with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
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Visceral fat is not visible and lies deep within your abdominal organs. It surrounds your stomach, liver, intestines, and other vital organs. Visceral fat makes the belly stick out; it produces chemicals and hormones that can be toxic to the body. It is common even for thin people and carries a range of risks for health.
Visceral fat in the belly is a sign of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
To understand if you are in a risk zone, measure your waist – its circumference is a good indicator of the fat deep inside the belly. For women, a risky zone starts with 80 cm or more; for men, 94cm or more.
Another factor that can make you think about extra weight is BMI – body mass index or fat percentage against your height.
- For pounds and inches:
BMI = weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703
- For kilograms:
BMI = weight (kg)/ [height (m)]2
A BMI of 30 or higher is the usual sign of obesity in adults.
Big circumference and high BMI make it reasonable to arrange a visit to the doctor.
5 Types Of Belly Fat
Stress belly is excessive abdominal fat resulting from chronic or prolonged stress. Though stress belly is not a medical diagnosis, it describes the initial reason for the belly.
Stress is a normal and healthy reaction of the body to a dangerous or difficult situation. When our body senses a threat, adrenal glands produce cortisol and adrenaline, which slow down any unnecessary body functions, focusing energy on the danger. When the crisis is gone, your hormones return to normal levels. This cycle repeats similarly every time.
However, chronic stress can have a negative impact. With constant ongoing stress, the hormone levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure keep elevated. This state is linked to abdominal obesity, as long as cortisol promotes the storage of abdominal fat.
At normal levels, cortisol is critical for metabolism and helps with blood sugar control. It is released during physical stress like exercise, giving us motivation and focus.
The unbalanced levels of hormones lead to excess weight gain in the stomach. If someone has a deficiency in certain hormones, it may result in weight gain around the abdomen. Hormonal types of belly fat are typically hard to get rid of.
The most common types are:
- Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid – thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones and slows down many of the body’s functions, including metabolism. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) , a common symptom of an underactive thyroid is lower belly fat. The longer you ignore the problem, the more excess belly becomes.
- Leptin resistance – fat cells release a hormone called leptin which targets nerve cells in the brain, particularly the hypothalamus, and triggers a feeling of fullness. Leptin resistance leads to reduced satiety, over-consumption of nutrients, and increased weight with an excess belly. All these features together lead to obesity, especially triggering the abdominal area.
- Low testosterone levels – according to the Urology Care Foundation , testosterone is a hormone that decreases when aging. A deficiency of testosterone leads to muscle loss and, therefore, weight gain. It’s essential to do sport while getting older, to maintain the muscle tissue and lose belly fat as much as possible.
- Estrogen belly – can occur in both sexes: males and females. Too high estrogen in men level leads to a decrease in testosterone – therefore, muscle loss – weight gain. Too low estrogen levels in women, especially during the menopause period, cause lead to the accumulation of extra fat. Such belly types require medical help and hormone level control; otherwise, it will be challenging to lose weight.
Among different types of belly fat, a bloated stomach is not about fat. Typically it’s a feeling of tightness, pressure, or fullness in your abdomen. Even skinny people experience it, having a visibly enlarged belly.
The most common cause of bloating is excessive intestinal gas, too much food eaten quickly, food intolerance, menstrual cycle, and irritable bowel syndrome. If the symptoms occur more often, it’s better to seek medical help.
To reduce the bloated belly, it’s better to eliminate foods like lentils, beans, cabbage, peas, etc., from your diet.
Alcohol Belly (Beer Belly)
Alcohol is a widely spread reason for lower belly fat, especially among men. Drinking alcohol leads to belly fat accumulation. Alcohol is metabolized by the liver (that’s why it is always the first to suffer from parties), which means it can’t be used for energy. Instead, it’s taken to fat storage.
Often times people don’t even consider alcohol as a source of calories. However, the drinks are highly-caloric, especially with the appetizers. Having fun with friends, a person can easily drink high amounts of alcoholic beverages, which caloric value ranges around 200+ calories per 100 grams. Besides, all the foods consumed with alcohol also matter. And there are low chances of exercising afterward. If you’re a party-goer or a lone drinker, such a lifestyle will lead to an excess belly.
Mommy belly is the most natural belly type. However, after giving birth to a kid, there are high chances to continue growing. It’s essential to stop eating for two people and balance the diet: choose more vegetables, lean meat, healthy carbs, and fats. Lower belly fat can’t vanish without a proper lifestyle and eating habits changes.
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How to get rid of belly fat?
WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure . Physical activity isn’t limited by specific hours of sport; it includes all your daily movements.
To increase the level of active daily routine, it’s essential that you start doing sports – walking, cycling, wheeling, sports, active recreation, and playing. It’s not necessary to hit the gym every day, hating it with all your heart. Playing basketball or football with your friends is enjoyable and beneficial for your body.
Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.
General recommendations and tips about physical activities:
- An average adult should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical exercise. It can also be a combination of both approaches.
- A sedentary lifestyle should be replaced with activities as much as possible. Smart technologies and office/remote jobs made our life entirely passive. Use every opportunity to walk and move.
- Strength training is beneficial for growing muscle mass and makes a perfect combo with cardio exercises.
- If you don’t like active types of sports or have health issues, opt for yoga or pilates. They offer good health benefits but are low-impact workouts and don’t put too much pressure on your joints.
- Basically, any type of activity you do instead of being a couch potato after work will lead to a reduction in your weight and belly fat.
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Having positive weight loss results is not possible without changing your nutrition. You need to analyze the daily caloric intake and define how much is an excess. To make it work, use a food calculator and note down every bite or sip you have during the day.
A caloric limit is very individual and ranges between 1200 (the least) and 2500 calories depending on your weight, age, occupation, level of activity, and others factors.
A healthy weight loss is about 1-2 pounds a week, which makes 3500-7000 calories a week to lose. It’s not complicated if you follow a healthy diet and introduce regular exercise into your daily routine.
- The leading role on your menu must be given to lean meat, healthy carbs, and fats. They will replenish your energy and give you all the necessary nutrients for proper functioning.
- Don’t let your mouth and emotional hunger win over you. Eat when you really feel the need for nutrients. A desire to snack mainly comes from the brain, not the stomach.
- Avoid junk food; it has a poor nutritional value; however “showers” you with calories your need to burn.
- If there are no chances to have a proper meal, eat some nuts or dried fruit – they are filling and nutritious.
- Reduce the foods with high sugar levels – they only provoke insulin resistance in the long term and have lots of calories.
- Limit alcohol intake – although it brings some illusional fun at the party, it’s among the most highly-caloric products. Moreover, it negatively influences the liver, health, and mind.
An average adult should spend 7-9 hours sleeping every day to maintain a proper performance during the daytime . When we have a sleep deficiency, our body can lower the metabolism level to preserve energy for essential functioning. Such a reduction will only create higher levels of fat cells and put off weight loss for a prolonged period. If you want to lose weight, a sleeping schedule is a part of success.
The Bottom Line
Having belly fat is neither healthy nor aesthetic. It can be a subject for funny jokes; however, it’s the only positive side. Different types of body fat are caused by a hormone deficiency or excess, unhealthy lifestyle, sedentary lifestyle, and health issues – in layman’s terms, a big belly is a sign of trouble.
If you want to reduce belly fat, it’s a good idea to change your diet and exercise regularly. Apart from weight loss, you will tone up your body, improve heart health, strengthen your back muscles and improve your well-being.
Before starting to work out, you should seek professional medical advice to define which type of belly fat is prevailing. For instance, if you have a hormonal belly, you will need specific medical treatment under the doctor’s supervision.
The majority of the excess weight problems may be resolved if you change your attitude toward your life, nutrition, and physical activity. Just make the first step toward your goal. The first, but the most challenging.