When you are diagnosed with diabetes, the first advice you get from your doctor is: lose weight. The fact is … most diabetics have too much belly fat.
You have two types of fat around your waist … subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat it is the fat found under the skin. It is visible fat and is generally soft and squishy, which is why it is often called “love handles” when it is around the waist. If you are not overweight and lead an active life, this type of fat is not dangerous even if your belly sticks out a bit. It only becomes a problem if you are seriously overweight.
Visceral fat is different. It is not so visible. This is because it is “deep fat”, that is, it is found inside the abdominal wall, where it surrounds the organs and releases hormones (which is why it is also called “active” fat). Too much fat can result in the release of excessive amounts of hormones … this causes inflammation, putting you at risk for a variety of health problems.
Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat can make your stomach feel hard. Although not visible, as you grow older, the visceral fat causes your belly to expand. A hard, protruding stomach indicates danger.
Why is visceral fat bad?
Many chronic diseases are caused or worsened by this type of fat. These include heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer, and back pain.
Heart disease… release of visceral fat cells cytokines, chemical messengers that affect the action of other cells, such as those that control blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin regulation. Since cytokines affect organ function, having them floating around in your body is not a good thing. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels contribute to heart disease.
Visceral fat tends to affect men and women at different stages in their lives. Young women tend to gain subcutaneous fat on their hips and thighs, while young men generally add visceral fat to their bellies. Therefore, men in their 30s are more likely to suffer from heart disease than women. Women are at higher risk of developing visceral fat later in menopause.
Diabetes… people who are overweight or obese are actually 90 times more likely to develop diabetes because belly fat affects the function of their organs. Studies indicate that people with deep abdominal fat lose their sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that regulates our blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes or are diabetic, you need to lose weight and reduce your visceral fat to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.
Cancers… cancer is caused by mutations in our cells. When we have excess visceral fat, it signals our body to produce hormones that cause our cells to divide and multiply. The more often our cells divide, the greater the chances that one of them will mutate into a cancer cell.
Therefore, more fat means more opportunities for cancer to develop. In fact, the WHO states that up to a third of all colon, kidney and digestive tract cancers are related to being overweight.
Back pain and tension… your core, meaning your abdomen or the center of your body, needs to be strong if you want to have good balance and healthy joints, and protect yourself from injury. Having too much abdominal fat generally means that your abdominal muscles are weak due to the visceral fat that surrounds your vital organs. When these core muscles are weak, the back muscles must take over. As a result, you are likely to strain your back and experience chronic back pain.
What Causes Visceral Fat?
There are many reasons why you get fat around the waist … eating too much … getting older … family traits … alcohol … stress.
Eat excessively… when we take in more calories than we expend in our daily activities, our bodies store the extra calories in the form of fat. We all need to eat less.
growing older… as we age, we begin to lose muscle mass and gain fat. This is normal but it means that if we do not learn to eat less we will gain weight, that is, we will gain weight.
Family traits… our genetics and family history influence the type of fat we get. If your parents had excess visceral fat, chances are you have too much too, unless you take steps to stay slim and fit.
Alcohol… drinking lots of intoxicating beverages (wine, beer, or spirits) contributes to the build-up of “beer belly”, which is primarily visceral fat. But keep in mind that a beer belly can develop from drinking wine or spirits, not just beer.
Stress… continuous high levels of stress, the kind we experience in modern life, cause a build-up of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our systems. Over time, this hormone increases the amount of fat around our stomach.
Who is most at risk for visceral fat?
Anyone of any age who overeats (that is, who eats more than they burn in various activities) will develop belly fat. However, it tends to increase with age, especially among women.
Those most at risk of developing excess visceral fat are … white men … African American women … Indian men and women of the subcontinent … people who drink sugary beverages … those who are already overweight or obese.
The good news is that visceral belly fat responds very well to diet … and all belly fat can be significantly reduced with exercise.
So, to narrow down to a sleek tummy line, forget about pills, purgatories, and herbal remedies, and ignore miracle cures … you can get rid of belly fat naturally with nothing but a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.
Reduce belly fat through diet.
One of the best ways to reduce both types of abdominal fat … subcutaneous and visceral … is to create a calorie deficitIn other words, eat fewer calories than your body burns. All you need to do is estimate the calories you consume each day and reduce that number by at least 25%. It is not too difficult to do and it works.
At the same time, you must follow the Beating Diabetes diet. Here it is:
Eat natural foods that are low in sugar, low in fat, low in salt, high in fiber, and have a low glycemic index. Your diet should consist primarily of plants and lean protein. Wash your food with plenty of water.
Following this diet is quite easy.
Ditch sugary foods and drinks first … no more sodas or sugar in your tea and coffee, which have been linked in some studies to the development of visceral fat. You should also eliminate cakes and sweets, in fact any food with added sugar.
If you’re in the mood for sugar, fight the craving … it can be done. Eating lean protein from legumes and lean meats can help you feel full and reduce your cravings.
To reverse your diabetes and reduce visceral fat, you must eliminate as much fat as possible from your diet. You need to completely eliminate trans fats and saturated fats, which are closely related to the development of visceral fat. This means eating unprocessed foods, that is, lean meats, avocados, and other fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and oatmeal that are full of soluble fiber.
To reduce your salt intake, simply stop using the salt shaker and avoid all processed foods as they are loaded with salt, both to preserve them and to give them favor. In fact, processed foods also often contain large amounts of sugar and fat to enhance flavors.
Foods rich in fiber are whole grains such as oats, most vegetables and fruits. Getting plenty of fiber ensures smooth digestion (as long as you drink plenty of water).
Eating whole grains means you are avoiding simple carbohydrates like white bread, other refined grains, and sugary foods that are low in nutritional value but high in calories. These foods have a high glycemic index, which means they are digested quickly, leading to spikes in blood glucose, the scourge of diabetics, and the rapid development of visceral fat. Whole grains digest slowly (that is, they are low GI) and are much healthier.
Reduce belly fat with exercise
Research has shown that exercise plays an important role in the elimination of abdominal fat. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in October 2005 compared men who exercised with men who did not and found that exercise is crucial for reducing visceral fat.
The researchers found that a modest exercise program avoids significant increases in visceral fat, while more vigorous exercise results in significant reductions in visceral, subcutaneous, and total abdominal fat without any change in calorie intake.
However, performing exercises targeting the stomach area, such as sit-ups and crunches, do not remove abdominal fat … although it does strengthen the abdominal muscles.
There are several ways to reduce belly fat through exercise:
Get moving … simply increasing your level of physical activity will burn more calories. If you have a sedentary occupation, get up from your desk and move about every hour. Parking far from your destination so that you have to walk the last few meters and take the stairs instead of taking the elevator can burn more calories and lower your stomach.
Get cardio … get your heart pumping and reduce visceral fat by burning calories. But start slowly by walking or swimming before you start running or jumping rope.
High Intensity Interval Training … where you alternate intense exercise with slower activities, burns belly fat and is ideal if you are not ready for sustained high intensity exercise. Start slowly (say) by walking for 5 minutes and then running for 1 minute.
Strength training … can help you lose weight because muscles burn more calories than fat. You should practice regularly several days a week. In addition to reducing belly fat, strength training can help you manage your diabetes and prevent other chronic diseases like osteoporosis.
Belly fat can lead to serious health problems, whether you are diabetic or not.
But you can get rid of it easily with diet and exercise …
Eat fewer calories than you burn
Avoid sugary foods
Avoid fats in your diet as much as possible
Avoid added salt
Avoid refined carbohydrates
Avoid processed foods
Eat lean protein
Eat foods that digest slowly.
Eat lots of soluble fiber
Drink alcohol in moderation
Reduce your stress levels
Do aerobic exercises (cardio)