The reason is that certain types of fat cells very likely produce substances that lead to bone disease. The study found that deep belly fat was associated with lower bone mineral density, a measure of bone strength.
Paging Dr. Gupta reports:
"The researchers also used a new technique to look at bone marrow fat, or fat within bones, which also appears to make the bones weaker. Women with deep tummy fat also had more fat within their bones."
It's well known that weight-bearing exercises are great for building up your bones, so it has been long believed that carrying extra weight provides a similar benefit for bone strength by increasing the dynamic forces on your bone.
However, newer research shows that the excess fat deep in your belly and around your organs, known as visceral fat, has been linked to lower bone mineral density, a measure of bone strength.
It's thought that these fat cells produce substances not yet identified that may lead to bone disease, along with other hallmarks of overweight and obesity, like heart disease and diabetes. Further, people with more visceral fat are also more likely to have more fat within their bone marrow, which may further weaken your bones.
Your body is designed to operate best when it's at an ideal weight, which varies slightly from person to person. Carrying around extra pounds will inevitably increase your risk of developing just about every chronic degenerative disease, while taking a toll on your bone health as well.
Visceral Fat Especially Dangerous for Your Bone Health
Your body has two types of fat. Subcutaneous fat is found just under your skin and is the noticeable type 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, and actually produces inflammatory molecules that enter your bloodstream.
Visceral fat is linked to lower bone mineral density, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases.
How do you know if you have excess visceral fat?
The problem is, you don't. 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. This is especially true if you are not exercising, as a sedentary lifestyle will promote the formation of visceral fat.
Obese Children May be at Risk
Past studies have also indicated that excess fat is bad for bone health, including one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found adolescent girls with high body fat had bones that were 8 percent to 9 percent weaker than those with normal body fat.
The researchers pointed out that this could be particularly damaging for obese children, whose bones are still developing. One-third of all American children aged 2-19 years are now overweight or obese, and this could have a lasting negative impact on the skeleton.
What Can You do to Lose Weight and Strengthen Your Bones at the Same Time?
If you want strong, healthy bones, regular exercise, including weight-bearing exercises like strength training, is essential. Remember, bone-building is a dynamic process, so you want to make sure you exert enough force on your bones to stimulate your osteoblasts to build new bone.
Not only will exercise help to build up your bone strength, but it's also an essential component of weight loss, including helping you shed visceral fat.
One study found that volunteers who did not exercise had an 8.6 percent increase in visceral fat after eight months, while those who exercised the most LOST over 8 percent of their visceral fat during that time. Exercise can even inhibit a regain of harmful visceral fat one year after weight loss.
When starting your exercise program, avoid the mistake I made for over 40 years by just assuming that aerobic cardio type exercises are going to do the trick for you. I can confidently tell you that you need to have a comprehensive exercise strategy that includes far more than conventional cardio.
One of the "secrets" that can boost your weight loss is actually to alternate short bursts of high-intensity exercise with gentle recovery periods.
I began incorporating this type of exercise earlier this year, and the results speak for themselves. Since then, I've coined the term Peak Fitness, which is a complete fitness program built around these high-intensity exercises, which are called Sprint 8 exercises. These exercises can be done in a fraction of the time you'd normally spend walking or running.
Still, despite the fact that you will spend less time exercising, Sprint 8 exercises can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and your fat-burning capabilities, while naturally boosting your body's production of human growth hormone (HGH).
For a more complete, in-depth explanation of my Peak Fitness regimen, please review this recent review article on Peak Fitness.
More Dos and Don'ts for Your Bone Health
Your weight is far from the only influence on your bone health. Here are several helpful strategies and nutrients, as well as a list of items to avoid to optimize your bone health on a comprehensive level.
- Vitamin D
- High-quality animal-based omega-3 fats
- Eat plenty of vegetables
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin K2