Losing the gut is one of the great challenges for many people, and not all of them necessarily have to be overweight. Age, sedentary lifestyle or an unbalanced diet can lead to accumulate fat in the central area of the body, but it is important to clarify that not all fat has the same impact: one may be more annoying to the eye, but less to health, while the other, less visible, is the one that threatens our well-being.
Subcutaneous fat is soft and accumulates under the skin; the visceral, not visible, covers the organs and is more dangerous to health
In other words, there are two types of gut: the subcutaneous fat, which is found under the skin, and the visceral, which covers the abdominal organs (kidneys, liver and pancreas). The first is easy to see, squishy and is more frequent in women before reaching menopause; on the contrary, mens have a greater tendency to accumulate fat around their viscera because absorb more fat from the diet, which passes into the circulation in the form of chylomicrons (a type of lipoproteins) and, by different mechanisms, fatty acids are released that accumulate in the viscera, as explained this article publicado en ‘Frontiers in Physiology’.
However, women lose their edge after reaching menopause and his body changes from a pear shape (with a predominance of subcutaneous fat) to an apple (like men), revealing visceral fat.
Great metabolic activity
Visceral fat is very metabolically active – it produces inflammatory hormones and proteins-, and contains more cells and blood vessels than the subcutaneous. Although it only supposes between the 10 and 20% of total fat in the body, it is enough to significantly increase the danger of death (of cardiometabolic origin). Among the metabolic alterations caused by this type of abdominal obesity is the type 2 diabetes, which has 8% of the Spanish population over 15 years of age, and which carries cardiovascular risk, damage to the kidneys, eyesight, etc.
Visceral fat also affects the liver, promoting the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, although a team of Japanese researchers subcutaneous fat is also involved in this disease.
Although there is no doubt that the visceral is much worse, there is no need to mistakenly thinking that subcutaneous fat is harmless and it is limited to a mere aesthetic problem. And, in addition to its role in non-alcoholic fatty liver, having an excess of body fat is associated with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.
The waist rules
To evaluate the amount of abdominal fat that a person has, it is very useful to measure the waist circumference, so much so that in the International Society of Atherosclerosis and the International Cardiometabolic Risk Group they have made a statement for doctors to incorporate this parameter in their patients’ health checks. As a general rule, the World Health Organization establishes as healthy an abdominal girth of 88 cm in women and 102 cm in men.
The gender, age and genetics influence in the size of our gut and we can do nothing to modify them, but we can keep their size in healthy figures modifying our lifestyle. Some of the advice more effective:
- Eliminate sugary drinks: they are pointed out as one of the most important sources of ’empty calories’ and, therefore, of promoting an increase in abdominal adiposity. The alternative: drink regular or sparkling water.
- Move– Increased physical activity can significantly reduce belly fat. It’s advisable mix aerobic activity high and low intensity, as well as the endurance training, which have been shown to help reduce belly fat.
- Increase your fiber intake– People who follow high fiber diets tend to have less belly fat than those who do not.
- Reduce ultra-processed foods: Eat ultra-processed foods frequently such as snacks, sweets, fast food, and refined grain products is related to a greater waist circumference, as observed in the study Predimed.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol, in addition to damaging general health, contributes to the excessive accumulation of fat abdominal.
- Sleeping more: poor quality of sleep is associated with the accumulation of visceral fat. In addition, a revision which included more than 56,000 people linked shorter sleep duration with greater waist circumference.
- Increase protein intakeHigh-protein diets can help promote abdominal fat loss. A job published in ‘The Journal of Nutrition’ and which included 23,876 people related high protein intake to smaller waists.
- Eat more whole foods: eat primarily minimally processed whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and healthy sources of protein and fat improve overall health and help maintain healthy levels of belly fat.
- Reduce the consumption of carbohydrates: a study published in the magazine ‘Nutrients’ and developed in overweight middle-aged adults or obesity has found that those who follow a very low carbohydrate diet (less than 5% of total caloric intake), high-fat, and energy-restricted lose more abdominal fat, including visceral fat, than those who followed a low-fat diet. Both diets promote similar losses in weight and total body fat, but the low-carb, high-fat diet is more effective in reducing belly fat.