A survey of 12,000 Europeans found most had no idea that a thick waist was a sign of a build-up of a dangerous type of fat around the internal organs. This "visceral fat" is strongly linked with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
It is thought that the danger of visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter your liver, and affect how your body breaks down sugars and fats.
Did you know your body has two types of fat?
Subcutaneous fat is found just under your skin and is noticeable. It’s the type of fat that jiggles, dimples, and causes cellulite.
Visceral fat is fat on the inside of your body, under your abdominal muscle. It is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it can surround vital organs like your liver and heart.
Visceral fat is linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, strokes and other chronic diseases.
Belly fat is also dangerous because it produces inflammatory molecules that enter your bloodstream. High inflammation levels in your body can trigger a wide range of systemic diseases linked with metabolic syndrome.
While it’s often referred to as “belly fat” because it can cause a “beer belly” or an apple-shaped body, you can have visceral fat even if you’re thin.
Not All Body Fat is Bad
You may think all body fat is the enemy. The fact is, fat cells are an active and intelligent part of your body, producing hormones that impact your brain, liver, immune system and your fertility.
It has been discovered subcutaneous fat can actually improve glucose metabolism and communicate with your organs to elicit beneficial effects.
The Leptin Connection
Most people are not aware that leptin plays an enormous role in the development of obesity. Leptin is a hormone your body produces which is just as important as insulin in determining your risk for Type 2 diabetes and other serious diseases. The hormones your fat cells produce impact how much you eat and how much fat you burn.
Leptin resistance causes an increase in the visceral fat your body produces.
Simply put, here’s how you become leptin resistant:
You eat a diet which includes too many sugars and grains (grains turn to sugar once you consume them)
The sugar metabolizes to (turns into) fat and is stored in your fat cells
This activity in turn causes a surge in leptin
Your body becomes resistant to leptin just as it can become insulin-resistant
When you’re leptin-resistant, your body no longer hears its own signals to stop eating, burn fat, or pass up sugary foods.
The result? You stay hungry, you crave sweets, and your body stores ever more fat.
When your body routinely stores this much excess visceral fat, you increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries) and an increased thickness in the walls of your heart.
Measuring Your Diabetes Risk in an Instant
You probably have the most powerful tool available to determine your risk of diabetes right at your fingertips – a simple tape measure.
Your total body fat and overall level of fitness are not the best indicators of insulin sensitivity, your waist size is.
Studies clearly show that measuring your waist size is one of the most powerful ways to predict your risk for diabetes.
Determining your waist size is easy. With a tape measure, figure the distance around the smallest area of your abdomen below your rib cage and above your belly button.
If you’re male, these guidelines apply:
Ideal waist measurement: between 31 and 36 inches
Overweight: between 36 and 40 inches
Obese: over 40 inches
Ideal waist measurement: between 28 and 33 inches
Overweight: between 33 and 37 inches
Obese: over 37 inches
The Two Keys to Getting Rid of Belly Fat
1. Eliminate sugars and grains from your diet.
Did you know refined sugar is far more addictive than cocaine? In fact, it’s one of the most addictive substances you can consume.
And refined sugar is not the only thing you must avoid when you’re craving sweets.
Starch, in the form of grains and potatoes, metabolizes into sugar in your body and should also be eliminated from your diet if you suffer from excess weight, diabetes or high cholesterol.
Following my nutrition plan is a simple way to automatically reduce your intake of both grains and sugars.
2. Exercise regularly.
Studies show regular, ongoing exercise is extremely important in getting rid of visceral fat and staying rid of it. Exercise also reduces the inflammatory properties of visceral fat that are linked to metabolic syndrome.
One of the keys to using exercise to normalize your insulin and leptin levels and eliminate visceral fat is to do enough of it.
There are three important variables with exercise:
Length of time
If you’re healthy enough to exercise, you should gradually increase the length and frequency of your workouts to one hour per day.
This is where you should stay until your weight and insulin levels are normalized. When you reach that goal, you can reduce your exercise frequency to three to four times per week.
Your exertion level should be such that it is very difficult to talk to someone next to you. This will insure you’re adequately challenging your cardiovascular system.
If you reach a point where you can’t carry on a conversation at all, back off the intensity just a bit.