Unwanted Abdominal Fat Part 6A
Date: April 18, 2016
Unwanted Abdominal Fat
AKA “Middle Age Spread, Pot Belly, Spare Tire, Money Belt, Beer Belly”
If you are a woman and you are concerned about too much fat around the midsection, you are in good company. Even men store fat in their belly. But “middle-age spread” need not be an inevitable fact of aging. In fact, many people, men and women alike, who suffer from an “apple shape” may not be fat or overweight by any standard and may not be even close to middle aged. Concerns about excess fat parked in the middle are well founded because excess fat in the abdomen carries many health implications.
The fat accumulated in the abdomen often is visceral, not subcutaneous. Subcutaneous fat, the “pinchable fat,” is located outside or your abdominal muscles whereas visceral fat lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity. A certain amount of visceral fat benefits our bodies as it pads our abdominal organs. Excessive visceral fat leads to metabolic disturbances and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It carries additional risks for women as it is associated with gall bladder disease and a higher incidence of breast cancer. Visceral fat is even associated with a higher risk of premature death. Excessive subcutaneous fat carries multiple health risks but is not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat.
Heard enough? You already hated your big belly. Now you learn it’s worse than you thought! Let’s discuss the causes of the condition, referred to as a “pot belly, spare tire, &/or money belt.” Where fat ends up is influenced by several factors, including heredity, age-related changes and hormones.
If your mom or dad struggled with a large tummy or an “apple shape,” it is likely you will too. Your genes determine where you deposit fat. But remember that your weight and fat percentage is largely determined by how you balance calories you eat with calories you burn. If you eat too much and exercise too little, you’re likely to pack on fat, including belly fat. We know subcutaneous fat spot reducing is not possible, but visceral fat responds well to diet and exercise.
Aging can also play a role. Muscle mass typically diminishes with age while fat increases. The loss of muscle mass decreases the number of calories you burn which makes maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy body fat percentage much more challenging. When your caloric intake is greater than your caloric expenditure, your body stores fat.
Many women experience an increase in belly fat as they get older – even if they aren’t gaining weight. This is likely due to decreasing estrogen levels. Estrogen influences where fat is distributed in a female body. Other hormones also determine where fat is stored. In women, these include insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Researchers agree that the hormonal situation plays a role in here fat is distributed, including belly fat. Intervention with medical care, supplements and treatments may be necessary.
After learning about the causes of excess abdominal fat, you want to learn about how to get rid of it. Stay tuned to our blog as we discuss ways you can get rid of abdominal fat in our Part 6B.