Belly Fat Isn't Just Linked To What You Eat — Here's Where It Comes From
Belly fat is a topic that seems to be everywhere.
Pop-up ads, talk shows, and articles are constantly advertising some bizarre trick to get rid of it.
And while many are quick to try these tricks, people often overlook one of the most basic steps in eliminating stomach fat: understanding what it is and what causes it.
Subcutaneous fat is made up of excess energy stored by the body — everyone has it.
There are two main types of belly fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the most noticeable type of fat on the stomach. It lies just under the surface of the skin. Women are more likely than men to accumulate this sort of fat around their abdomen, hips, and thighs.
Although fat gets a bad rap, it does have its benefits. Besides serving as a temperature regulator and a layer of padding to protect your bones and muscles, subcutaneous fat also serves as the body’s main energy storage system. If you consume more calories than your body uses, your body stores the extra calories as subcutaneous fat. However, this fat is also the first thing your body turns to when you burn more calories than you take in.
Visceral fat can increase your risk for serious health issues, like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Visceral fat is much more dangerous. You can not touch, feel, or see this fat, as it surrounds your organs.
This fat is more concerning because it wraps itself around the major organs and is stored in the abdominal cavity. People with higher visceral fat are more at risk for certain health complications such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Hormones — particularly Insulin — play a large role in belly fat.
There are many reasons why people develop belly fat. While poor diet and inactivity are often crucial factors, others include hormonal changes, age, hereditary factors, and stress.
Hormones are typically the overlooked key players in belly fat. The most important hormone to understand is insulin — your fat storage hormone.
When functioning properly, insulin regulates many metabolic processes and allows the cells in muscles, fat, and the liver to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. But insulin levels that are too high can prompt the body to store fat, particularly around the midsection.
Processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, and baked goods cause blood sugar and insulin to rise. The liver can only metabolize so much insulin. Excess levels can cause weight gain and eventually insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to health issues like heart attacks, cancer, and strokes.