6 min read
Can You Pinch An Inch?
Why you should rid yourself of belly fat
You might have heard the question “Can you pinch an inch?” Yes, I am talking about your stomach. Today’s blog will be about abdominal, or better said, belly fat and its causes. Your stomach harbors two kinds of fat – subcutaneous and visceral fat. Two very different kinds of fat. The first you can normally see in front of your abdominals just under the skin. Everyone has it. The little belly rolls you can pinch, even star athletes and super models when they’re sitting. It’s harmless and helps you stay warm in cool temperatures. The latter, visceral fat, helps grow your waistline, as it pushes out against the abdominal wall. Can you still pinch an inch?
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You don't see it, but it can cause massive damage to your health: visceral fat, from the Latin word for “internal”, is in the interior of your abdomen and wraps itself around your organs. You have to know and pay attention to this...
It is an invisible danger that can lie dormant within us - and even those who appear to be of normal weight can be affected. Because in addition to the visible outer abdominal fat, which each of us can easily recognize, there is also an inner layer of fat in the abdomen. Namely the one that wraps around our organs – the so-called visceral fat.
What is visceral fat?
Belly fat is actually not a bad thing by nature: in earlier times, it served as a means of survival for humans during periods of starvation. Because unlike fat reserves on the buttocks or thighs, the visceral abdominal fat can be converted directly (and quickly) into sugar and thus into energy.
This process ensured that people of earlier days could survive for up to 40 days without additional food intake! In addition, the inner abdominal fat also serves as mechanical protection for our organs.The problem today: Especially in Western industrial societies, hardly anyone really has to make use of this archaic protective mechanism.
The problem is actually the other way around for us today: there is too much of a good thing in many cases – which in turn is noticeable in the superfluous extra belly fat. Because by eating too much food that's where excess energy built up is first deposited - with visible and invisible results. And that can be dangerous for our health.
Why is visceral fat dangerous?
Visceral fat is metabolically very active. That means: It contains around 200 messenger substances and inflammatory molecules that influence important hormones in your body - in this case, unfortunately, mostly unfavorable ones.
Physicians are now concerned of visceral fat acting like a gland that independently and very actively shoots fatty acids into the blood stream, where they remain and wreak havoc because the cells cannot do anything with them. The “normal” subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is not active.
How to measure it
The unsatisfying truth is: Our inner love handles cannot really be measured. However, too much of it also ensures that our abdominal circumference grows visibly and measurably on the outside. That's why today the waist circumference is the most important quick indicator of the fat condition of your stomach.
Body fat scales will give you information and also a value about the fat content of your body, but these measurements are often not very accurate and don't give you a specific value for the inner “visceral” abdominal fat, and instead only a general value about your body fat.
Of course, a costly abdominal examination with a magnetic resonance tomograph (MRT) will provide you with more precise information – but without a medical indication you’ll probably won’t get one.
Causes: This is how visceral fat is formed
It has been scientifically proven that stress greatly promotes the development of visceral fat. Since ancient times, stress has been the emergency and survival signal for our body to accumulate as much fat as possible in order to be able to survive bad times.This is exactly why there is a risk for normally slim people and especially women to develop a "little tummy" despite a skinny or slim-looking appearance. I call it skinny-fat people.
Normal values for men and women
Since the exact determination of the amount of visceral fat is very complex and expensive, the outer abdominal circumference is generally measured in order to assess the risk. A (slight) risk for women begins with a waist circumference of 32 inches (82 cm), the risk is significantly higher for more than 34 inches (88 cm). For men, there is a slightly increased risk starting with a waist circumference of 37 inches (94 cm) – it is then significantly higher from 40 inches (102 cm) and up!
However, these numbers are only a rough guide. Because your height and your muscle percentage also play a role in assessing a possible risk. For more information about body composition measurements read my blog What is my ideal body weight and fat percentage?
Men tend to have more fat deposits in the middle of their body, while women seem to have more fat on their hips, buttocks, and thighs. However, as a rule of thumb, you can definitely bear in mind that men and women with a flat stomach usually do not have a dangerous visceral fat content.
Other conditions commonly associated with visceral fat
Inner abdominal fat is particularly metabolically active. This means that it forms messenger substances that influence various processes in the body. Among other things, these trigger inflammatory processes, promote high blood pressure, and encourage insulin resistance. If you have a high proportion of visceral fat, your personal risk of type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, increases. The more belly fat, the greater the risk of:
- Cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke
- Metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus (diabetes) and fatty liver
Five simple tips to help you get rid of belly fat fast
Watch your calorie intake. If you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight. The recommended calorie intake is individual and depends on gender, height, weight, and activity level.
Avoid high-sugar and high-fat snacks such as cake, candy bars and crisps. This way you save a lot of calories every day. If you're hungry for sweets, grab fruit instead.
Fill your plate with more vegetables and salad. Both are low in calories, high in fiber and satiate well.
Avoid high-calorie drinks like soda and alcohol. Healthy thirst quenchers are water or unsweetened herbal and fruit teas. From time to time, light juice spritzers are also possible. Tip: Flavor your water with fresh peppermint, lemon balm, cucumber, lemon, berries, or ginger.
Exercise regularly, preferably several times a week. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends moderate physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week, such as cycling, walking, or swimming. Alternatively, you can do a more intense sport like jogging for at least 75 minutes a week. In addition, build more exercise into your everyday life: You can burn a lot of calories by climbing stairs, cycling, and walking.
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How to control your weight and with more tips how to lose the belly fat , I will show you in one of my upcoming podcasts. Check here for more information about the podcast as well as an overview of all our episodes!
For now, as always, I wish you every success in boosting your body's natural energies by keeping your weight in check!
Enjoy your day!
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