If you’re carrying extra pounds around the waist, you’re in good company. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about three-quarters of adults in the US are overweight — and about 42% are obese.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, many patients with excess belly fat feel frustrated because shedding pounds from the abdomen can be especially hard. Fortunately, our board-certified providers specialize in helping men and women attain their healthiest life possible with our comprehensive primary care services.
Keep reading to learn more about belly fat and how your primary care team can help.
Subcutaneous means beneath the skin. As such, subcutaneous fat describes fat stored just under the surface of your skin. This is the type of fat you can grab and pinch.
Visceral fat, on the other hand, is belly fat that’s stored deep inside your abdominal cavity where it surrounds your organs. Most people who carry excess weight in their stomach area have an excess of this visceral fat.
Unfortunately, visceral fat is the most dangerous kind of fat to carry. This is because compared to subcutaneous fat, visceral belly fat increases your risk for the most serious health issues, including:
Researchers believe this is because visceral fat leads to an increased production in chemicals that cause inflammation in your organs and triggers narrowing in your blood vessels, raising your blood pressure.
Belly fat is more challenging to get rid of for several reasons, most of which relate to lifestyle factors that we may take for granted. Here’s a look at some of the most common reasons:
In some cases, hormone imbalances contribute to weight gain around the middle. For example, if your thyroid is underactive, your metabolism slows. This means you don’t burn the calories you consume, and those extra calories often get stored as fat on your belly.
For women, imbalances related to menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome can trigger an increase in fat stored in the abdomen, while for men, low testosterone can play a role. Your Wasatch Peak Family Practice practitioner can evaluate your hormone levels and provide personalized treatment.
If you’re focusing on your abdomen with sit-ups, crunches, and planks, you might not be seeing the payoff you wanted. This is because although these exercises strengthen abdominal muscles and are good for your core, they don’t burn off those deeper layers of fat.
To lose stubborn belly fat, you need to increase the intensity of your exercises so that you burn more fat. Ideally, it’s best to perform cardiovascular exercise at a moderate-intensity level for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to help shed stubborn belly fat.
Refined sugars aren’t good for your health, and they’re one of the fastest ways to add to visceral fat. This is because refined sugars are high in calories, and when your body doesn’t immediately burn them, it stores the unused energy as fat.
This includes alcohol, which is not only high in sugar and empty calories, but also suppresses your ability to burn fat. Plus, it can make it more difficult to stay motivated to exercise and interferes with sleep.
If you’re not getting enough sleep each night, you put your body into a state of stress. This causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to the storage of more visceral fat.
What’s more? Research shows that people who sleep less tend to eat more, which means a higher intake of calories. If you’re not burning off those extra calories with exercise, they get stored as fat.
The good news is that by learning the underlying reasons for your belly fat and taking action, you can make a change. Your primary care provider can help.
At Wasatch Peak Family Practice, our primary care providers use a comprehensive approach to your health. This means taking a holistic view of your wellness and health goals.
If you’re concerned about excess weight — including belly fat — we can guide you. Our team evaluates your medical and family histories and current health using a physical examination, lab testing, screenings, and open discussion to get to the root cause of your belly fat.
Learn more about belly fat or talk to a provider for personalized help with the battle of the bulge by scheduling an appointment by phone or online with a provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice today.