Belly fat - many of us are all too familiar with the spare tire, muffin top, or love handles. They all refer to the same dangerous condition. So, how is this type of excess weight different from others? The problem with belly fat is that it’s more than skin deep. It is made up of multiple layers.
The first layer is right under your skin and is visible as a bulge of the belly. But what many of us don’t know is that there’s another layer. It’s made up of fat deposits that lie deep inside your abdomen, surrounding your organs. These internal fat pockets are called “visceral fat”. They make the effects of belly fat quite unique and much more dangerous than other excess weight. You could even call belly fat the Silent Killer. That's how dangerous it is.
Belly fat is usually caused by a combination of factors. But the bottom line is: too many calories and too little exercise.
Let’s start with diet, like eating lots of sugary foods or drinking sugary beverages. Drinking alcohol every day. Eating as lot of processed and fried foods. It can all rack up the calories faster than we realize. A diet high in trans-fats also contributes to many unhealthy calories to combat. Not eating enough fiber in our diet can also lead to gut problems. Unhealthy gut bacteria will contribute to belly fat weight gain. Overall, if you are not eating a balanced and clean diet, you might struggle with weight gain.
Lifestyle is a big factor in this type of weight gain. The main offenders here are stress, no exercise, and lack of sleep. They can all throw off your hormone balance, which in turn causes your body to put on the belly pounds. If you are working a high-stress job, it might be difficult to relax even on weekends. The constant influx of stress hormones will throw off your metabolism. You will be in survival mode all the time and overeating junk food becomes a major problem.
All this might even cause sleep problems, compounding the effects. Research shows that getting too little sleep just one night can mimic effects of being intoxicated. Prolonged lack of sleep is connected to weight gain, and specifically belly fat gain. So, it is very important to make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep every night. Otherwise you might lose the battle against the spare tire.
And finally, if you have a sedentary job or just don’t exercise enough every week, you are at risk of weight gain. Unfortunately, in most cases this weight gain is around your middle. Not exercising enough carries its own health risks. Those will add to the health risks of belly fat gain. You can start to see that everything coming together has the potential of creating the perfect storm for your body.
Both genders can obviously gain weight in the belly area. This excess fat affects men and women just slightly differently. New research shows that it might affect women more than men; however, the underlying reasons are still unclear. More research is needed to understand why. Belly fat specifically increases heart attack risk for women, compared to women who are just generally overweight. The heart attack risk for women with belly fat seems to be higher than that for men with belly fat.
This is not to say that it isn’t dangerous for men as well. There is a long list of health dangers that belly fat and additional weight carry in general. Women might just be a little more disadvantaged. Pregnancy, in particular, can cause belly fat gain that is very hard to reverse. Many women find it difficult to return to their pre-pregnancy weight after giving birth. With a roller-coaster of hormones happening in their bodies, stubborn belly at often persists into subsequent pregnancies.
One of the most dangerous risk factors is heart attack. As we mentioned before, it seems that the risk of heart attack is higher in relation for women than for men. But, if you know anyone who has had a heart attack, their lives are usually not the same after. Part of the heart muscle dies permanently. The exact area depends on where the heart attack occurs. This means that there are generally long-lasting effects like limited physical activity, shortness of breath, and possible ongoing heart problems.
Belly fat can also cause heart disease, which can be a precursor to heart failure. Heart disease can include problems with the blood vessels such as blockages. They can include high blood pressure. And problems with your heart rhythm, heart valves, and heart muscle in general. All these are dangerous enough to potentially cause death.
Although this type of diabetes can be managed, it can be life-threatening. You will need to monitor your blood sugar levels constantly and possibly administer shots of insulin. Sometimes this type of diabetes can be managed largely with diet and lifestyle. But some insulin might still be necessary. It will impact your life in some way. In severe cases it can cause a variety of problems and even kidney failure. The best medicine is simply prevention.
Cancer risk in general seems to increase with weight gain. And as with the other health conditions, belly fat increases that risk even more. This might be due to the fat deposits affecting the organs. At any rate, cancer can be fatal, and this is anther very serious danger of belly fat.
A lot of people don’t actually know what cholesterol is. But this is a very important number you should be aware of. When you have a check-up with your doctor, they might send you to get blood-work done. This will give you an idea of what your cholesterol is. In simple terms, cholesterol is the amount of fat in your blood. Your body needs a certain amount to function. But when this number is too high, you are at risk for heart disease. And this plays right into the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Belly fat, in particular, can increase your cholesterol levels.
Belly fat might have seemed like a harmless spare tire. Something unsightly, but no worse than a bit of extra weight. Some people think belly fat is just a normal part of getting older. In reality, it can contribute to life-threatening disease and put you at serious risk of death. No matter your age, the muffin top should be at the top of your priority list. Now that you know the top 5 dangers, what can you do to prevent it or get rid of it?
The first important step is to exercise. It doesn’t have to be the gym, if you don’t feel comfortable. You can do something fun like dancing or swimming. Even if you just go for 20-minute walks every day, or as many days as you can. You can also purchase a step counter. The goal would be to do about 10,000 steps a day. Whatever you start with will be better than doing nothing. We tend to do better in groups, so you might want to get together a few of your friends to support you. Commit to work out together a few days a week. Or meet up for walks or bike rides.
Just keep in mind that doing a crazy amount of crunches every day won’t do the job. You might think this will kill the belly fat, but it’s not actually the most effective exercise. This is because it only targets one section of your abs. It only works the top layer of the muscle, which might bulk up your midsection. Core exercises that work across your midsection or engage the entire core are much more effective. This includes dolphin planks or side planks with a dip, for example.
The next change should be to your diet. Obviously eating healthier will contribute to weight loss. This should include eating less sugar and fat and adding more lean protein and fiber. If possible, switch to organic products. Make sure you eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits. Just be sure to keep you portion size in check. It is great to eat healthy, but if you still eat double what you need in calories, you will not lose weight. And hydrate with enough water every day, to ensure your body can detoxify properly.
If you need help, you can do research online. There are thousands of free videos available that will teach you to cook clean food. They will also include guidance on portion sizes. If you need more individualized help, you can join a weight loss program that includes a personal coach. As with exercise, working with a weight loss coach or a team might give you better success long-term.
And of course, a lifestyle change will be in order as well. Consider how much stress you experience every day. Can you successfully relax and balance your stress? If not, it might be time to consider methods like meditation and yoga. This might not seem like a serious suggestion, but research has shown that meditation can reverse some of the damages done to our DNA by stress. So, it’s definitely worth a try. You can learn meditation on the Internet and do it in the privacy of your own home. For yoga, it would be better to start with a yoga teacher, to make sure you do the poses correctly and don’t injure yourself.
Also keep an eye on your sleep patterns. We already talked about this a little earlier one. It’s a huge factor and can be a stumbling block for people trying to lose weight. Belly fat will be especially stubborn and might cling on even when you start losing weight in other places. For this reason, doing everything you can will go a long way. Get about 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Darken out your room and use ear plugs and a sleep mask, if you need it.
The biggest thing when trying to lose belly fat will be consistency. Just doing something for a couple of weeks won’t help. You need to decide to make lifestyle changes and commit to them. Going forward, you shouldn’t look at it as a temporary diet, but really a permanent change you make to improve your health.
Don’t try to change everything at the same time. If it’s too much, you won’t stick to it for long. Make one little change at a time. Give yourself a few weeks to implement it properly. When you have a handle on it, add one more little change. And surround yourself with a support team. This will make you more accountable to make changes and it’s more fun to do it with family and friends.
If you are consistent, you will get rid of that stubborn belly fat. And you body will thank you for it!
Everyone fears it. The dreaded cellulite. It appears just like the dimpled skin of an orange on your body. Except it’s neither sweet nor appealing. It affects about 80-90% of women with varying degrees. And we have probably spent hundreds of dollars trying to get rid of it.
Let’s separate fact and fiction about what cellulite is, how it happens, and what can be done to get rid of it. There is so much information out there on the Internet today. Everyone promises you a quick fix. A cream or a supplement you can just take, and the cellulite will disappear. Or beauty clinics advertising their laser procedures that are guaranteed to work.
It is true that cellulite can affect your self-confidence big time. Many women simply stop wearing shorts or t-shirts because they cannot stand the sight of their exposed skin. We’ve been told it’s unsexy and unflattering. It looks like cottage cheese. And it seems to be ridiculously hard to get rid of.
What does science have to say about all that? Is there actual proof of anything that works long-term? Can you just pop a pill and get your smooth skin back? We’ll jump right in and look at the truth about getting rid of cellulite.
Well, in short, it’s fat. Gross, right? We all have several layers of skin. Usually the fat deposits stay lower down and you cannot really see them. The skin appears smooth. When cellulite appears, the fat has pushed through the connective tissues and you can see it now as bumps. Because it does not push through the same everywhere, the skin appears dimpled and uneven.
Men’s tissue is designed a little bit differently, which seems to make it harder for the fat to push through. This explains why mostly women are affected by it. Although men can get it too, it’s usually not as severe. Or as noticeable.
You can have a look at this image from Wikipedia. It shows how the fat pushes through the skin layers. You understand now what cellulite is and how it appears bumpy, but why does this happen in the first place?
>> Cellulite on Wikipedia
There are definite things that contribute to cellulite, but there is no one answer to this question. Scientists have not found the one single trigger that makes it happen. But, here are some things that contribute to cellulite formation.
As you age, estrogen production decreases. This in turn decreases circulation in the connective tissue. Collagen production decreases and cellulite becomes more prominent. Fat cells also get bigger as your estrogen levels decrease.
With age, your skin also becomes thinner and more saggy. Fat cells can become more visible because of this. The skin almost becomes transparent or translucent in places. There is not much to be done about this. It is a natural occurrence, as we get older.
Unfortunately, your genes also play a role. Everything from your metabolism, how fat is laid out under your skin, to circulation, and even your ethnicity can contribute to cellulite. Again, this is nothing you can directly control. All you can do is take care of your body the best way you know how to.
Luckily, there are some factors we can control. For example, our diet. Since cellulite is fat, it seems logical that weight gain and an unhealthy diet can contribute to cellulite formation. Eating a lot of sugar, salt, and fat will affect you. Not eating enough fresh vegetables and fruits can contribute as well. Not eating enough fiber might be connected to increased cellulite.
Lifestyle is another thing we can control. Smoking seems to be a contributing factor to cellulite formation. A high consumption of alcohol also makes the list. It seems that proper hydration with enough water and green tea every day may help with cellulite reduction.
Going hand in hand with weight gain, a sedentary lifestyle might make your cellulite worse as well. Getting enough exercise is a big one. It builds up muscle, which in turn might make your cellulite look smoother. Not to mention that losing weight will cause less fat cells to push through your skin.
This is not to say that fit people won’t develop cellulite. But it’s generally less noticeable and less severe.
There has been a lot of talk online about toxins being stored in our fatty tissues to render them harmless. The more toxic our body is, the more fat the body stores that contains the toxins. Although there is evidence that inflammation can contribute to a variety of chronic diseases, there is no scientific evidence to date that has definitively linked toxins and cellulite formation.
It is always a good idea to use common sense. And cellulite formation is no exception. It makes sense that exposing ourselves to harmful chemicals every day will leave a dangerous effect behind. Science has linked toxins like household cleaners and pesticides to many illnesses. Whether or not toxins contribute to cellulite, it is a good idea to eliminate as many toxins as you can for the benefit of your overall health.
Going green and going organic will help you reduce the amount of toxins you are exposed to every day. You experience air pollution every day. Often, we drink contaminated water without knowing it. Plastics and the likes wreak havoc on our planet. So, it is our responsibility to reduce toxins in our homes and environment, regardless of removing the unsightly dimples on our bums.
So, here it goes. The long list of things that make cellulite go away. Keep in mind that science has not found any supporting evidence that any of these work long-term. Or at all. Yes, that is correct. None of these treatments work permanently, so think very carefully before you pay for them.
- Non-invasive procedures like laser or ultrasound
- Liposuction procedures that remove some fat, but may make it worse in the long run
- Procedures that involve injecting various substances under the skin that supposedly dissolve fat. This can potentially be very dangerous for your health.
- Freezing the fat
- Heating the fat
- Deep massages
Then there are a host of creams and ointments that promise a reduction in cellulite. Some of them may help to reduce the appearance of it short-term. Creams that contain caffeine or Retinol do affect the fatty tissues. But they usually take many months to show any kind of effects. And the effects stop when you stop using the cream.
There is compression clothing that diminishes the appearance of cellulite. This anti-cellulite clothing comes in underwear, leggings, and sleepwear to name a few. When you wear the items, you may look slimmer and it will be less noticeable. But again, once you taken them off, the effect stops.
One promising new treatment has recently been developed. It involves injecting collagenase under the skin, which breaks down collagen. The treatment is still in its trial phase, so it is not clear yet whether it is safe. Early results are promising, but more testing is needed to determine if it will work.
It will be discouraging to go through surgical treatments and spend money on creams just to find out nothing worked in the end. That is why you should always do your research first. It is important to know that none of the anti-cellulite treatments have so far proven effective. It will save you time and money when deciding on your game plan.
The only results will be achieved by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a clean and healthy diet, hydrating properly, and exercising. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s a bit of a let down, but that is the plain truth.
There is just a little, well-kept secret to the type of exercises you can do that will work. Remember, if you do the wrong kind of exercise, you can make your cellulite even worse. Do you know what the 5 moves are that will get rid of your cellulite for good?
We've even found a great free video that explains how to get rid of cellulite for good. Be sure to take a few minutes to watch it and decide for yourself. There is no cheating and no quick fixes for cellulite. So, take control of what you can and get rid of that orange peel skin for good.