As women age, belly fat tends to increase even if other parts of the body do not gain weight. This is caused by visceral fat, the fat that sits inside the abdominal area around the body’s organs. Visceral fat is dangerous to a woman’s health because it can cause many types of chronic diseases. The good news is this type of fat can be reduced through diet and exercise so the health risks are reduced too.
Causes of Visceral Belly Fat
As women age their metabolism slows down, increasing the amount of fat that accumulates on the body. For most women activity level also decreases as they age which contributes to weight gain. After menopause, weight in women begins to concentrate more on the abdomen than on other parts of the body. Heredity and hormonal changes also contribute to belly fat. Some women are genetically inclined to gaining weigh in the abdomen. Changes in hormone levels after menopause changes the way the body breaks down fat and stores it, causing more fat in the belly to accumulate.
Even without weight gain, some women tend to grow wider in the waist as they age. Even if their weight isn’t changing, where the weight is being stored may be changing. Visceral belly fat begins to accumulate while fat in the arms, hips and thighs decreases.
Health Dangers of Visceral Belly Fat
Visceral belly fat is not the fat you can pinch along the waistline. Fat that lies between the skin and abdominal wall is subcutaneous fat. This fat is annoying, but generally not dangerous. Visceral fat is the fat that lies deep within the abdominal cavity surrounding vital organs. This type of fat produces active cells that produce hormones that can cause insulin resistance. Visceral fat can also cause hormonal imbalances and produce estrogen in women after menopause which can lead to breast cancer. Too much visceral belly fat can cause the following health issues:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Type-2 diabetes
• Metabolic syndrome
• Breast cancer
• Gallbladder troubles
• Colorectal cancer
How to determine if you have too Much Visceral Belly Fat
Researchers believe the best way to measure visceral belly fat is to measure the midsection. Using a measuring tape, measure the circumference of the belly at about the level of the navel. If the waist measurement is 35 inches or more then there is a high concentration of visceral belly fat. However, some researchers believe that a measurement of over 33 inches is also considered dangerous to your health.
Ways to Reduce Visceral Belly Fat
Surprisingly, visceral belly fat isn’t as difficult as you may think to lose. This type of fat can be reduced quickly through a simple diet and exercise program. One recent study from the University of Alabama, Birmingham found that eating healthy and exercising as little as 40 minutes, twice a week can reduce visceral belly fat and maintain that fat loss.
The Mayo Clinic suggests eating a diet low in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. Instead, eat foods that contain the healthier polyunsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates that are in fruits and vegetables. It is important to watch calorie intake as well. Eating a balanced, healthy diet is as important as adding exercise. An exercise routine that consists of some form of aerobic exercise along with strength-training has shown to work best for losing visceral belly fat.
As women age visceral belly fat can creep up on them, but by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program, women can fight visceral belly fat and keep it off for good.
MayoClinic.com “Belly fat in women: How to keep it off” Retrieved August 1, 2010.
ScienceDaily.com “Exercise Keeps Dangerous Visceral Fat Away a Year After Weight Loss, Study Finds” Retrieved August 1, 2010.