Compared to the rest of the body, the belly contains a small amount of fat. It is natural to have some fat in your tummy. After all, fat protects and insulates the body.
This article discusses the various forms of belly fat and offers evidence-based advice on how to lose extra belly fat.
There are two main types of belly fat.
- Subcutaneous Belly Fat:
Subcutaneous fat, or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), is located beneath the skin. It is soft and causes the visible “jiggling” on the belly. Generally, women have more subcutaneous fat than men. Unlike deeper abdominal fat, subcutaneous fat is not strongly linked to increased disease risk.
However, excess body fat, including total belly fat, may raise the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Maintaining healthy levels of belly fat and overall body fat can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
2. Visceral Belly Fat:
Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) or visceral belly fat surrounds internal organs like kidneys, liver, and pancreas, deeper in the abdomen than subcutaneous fat. This type of fat, often termed “harmful” belly fat, is more metabolically active, containing more cells, blood vessels, and nerves than subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is strongly linked to increased resistance to insulin, regulating blood sugar levels. Prolonged insulin resistance may lead to elevated blood sugar levels and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, visceral fat contributes to systemic inflammation, increasing the risk of diseases. Men are more prone to accumulating visceral fat, resulting in an “apple-shaped” figure, while women tend to develop excess fat in the lower body, forming a “pear” shape.
Body fat distribution changes with age, with premenopausal women having higher levels of subcutaneous belly fat, and postmenopausal women tending to have higher levels of visceral fat, increasing the risk of metabolic disease. Interestingly, visceral fat tends to be higher in people of European origin compared to other ethnicities.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, approximately 90% of the body’s fat is subcutaneous and the remaining 10% is visceral.
8 Tips to Lose Weight Fast
Wondering how to shed belly fat safely? It’s not just about diet and lifestyle—your age, sex, and genes matter too.
Here are some simple and proven ways to lose weight fast.
- Quality of Weight Loss Matters
The low-carb approach not only resulted in more weight loss but also a higher quality of weight loss, reducing more fat and preserving lean tissue.
2. Eating Plan Over Diet
Shift to a low-carb eating plan that emphasizes better food choices, eliminating the need for calorie counting and focusing on high-fiber or high-protein options.
3. Physical Activity for Belly Fat
Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, helps burn abdominal fat by reducing insulin levels and prompting the liver to use up fatty acids.
4. Strength Training Boosts Metabolism
Incorporate moderate strength training to build lean muscle mass, increasing calorie burn both at rest and during exercise.
5. Mindful Label Reading
Become a label reader, comparing and contrasting brands to uncover hidden fats, carbs, and sugars in foods like yogurt, sauces, and dressings.
6. Minimize Processed Foods
Step away from processed foods containing trans fats, added sugar, and sodium, as they hinder weight loss efforts.
7. Focus on the Waistline, Not Just Scale
Measure progress by how your clothes fit rather than solely relying on the scale. Maintain a waistline under 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men.
8. Health-Focused Social Circle
Surround yourself with health-focused friends and family, as research suggests they positively influence eating habits and exercise routines.
The Bottom Line
Remember that developing good, long-term behaviors is far more essential for your overall health than trying to lose weight quickly.
If you need more personalized nutritional guidance on how to decrease belly fat and lower your disease risk, speak with a qualified registered dietitian.