Battle of the Bulge
Whether we like it or not, summer is upon us, hopefully with some warmer and drier spells of weather. This means that it will be time to shed the winter layers and perhaps reveal how little activity some of us have done during hibernation.
Many of us will have added a few pounds to our frames over winter and trying to lose them the same old way, may not be effective enough. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the level of testosterone in our body gradually decreases (usually from the age of around 30 for the rest of our life at 1% per year.) This reduction not only makes it more difficult to keep fit and trim but, can also lead to a variety of other unwelcome changes such as: reduced sex drive, loss of body hair, loss of muscle mass and obesity. As if these decreased testosterone side effects aren't bad enough, the natural levels of oestrogen produced by men (once kept at bay with the testosterone production), continue to be produced. As a result, men with too much oestrogen may develop gynecomastia, a condition which leads to larger breasts (Moobs), erectile dysfunction (ED) or maintaining an erection.
Anyway, enough of the happy stuff… What we want to draw your attention to is the 2 types of fat that we constantly carry around with us in our bodies, visceral and subcutaneous fat.
Where are Visceral and Subcutaneous fats?
Visceral fat (also known as ‘hidden fat’) lies deep inside the belly, wrapped around the organs, including the pancreas, liver and intestines and in an apron of tissue called the omentum which is sometimes called ‘the policeman of the abdomen’ as it secretes hormones related to obesity and immunity.
Subcutaneous fat is found directly under the skin. This often gets forgotten because the visible amount is unknown, hence why we can still be a ‘thin-fat’ – thin externally but a great amount of fat internally around unseen organs.
Which is worse subcutaneous fat or visceral fat?
Visceral fat, is wrapped around our internal organs and by mere fact that we can't see it, makes it more dangerous as opposed to subcutaneous fat (which we can see) that lies just under the skin around the belly, thighs and rear.
How do I tell if I have visceral fat?
Other than seeking medical intervention, the easiest indicator is your waist size. In women, 35 inches or more is a sign of visceral fat while in men, it's 40 inches. This is a crude estimate, but one that is used as an average yardstick.
Do you lose visceral fat before subcutaneous fat?
When excess visceral fat is burned, the body then begins tackling excess subcutaneous fat (you would think it would be the opposite way around, right?) Unfortunately, subcutaneous fat is harder to lose due to the functions it performs for our body. It’s the way our body stores energy, protects muscles and bones, insulates the body, and connects tissue to muscle and bones. Subcutaneous fat is more visible, but it takes more effort to lose because of the function it is always serving in our body. In general, both types of fat are stubborn to lose and some factors that make both fats harder to lose include insulin resistance and other genetics as well as lifestyle.
Compared to the fat in areas like the legs, face and arms, our stomach and abdominal regions possess beta cells. These beta cells are generally more difficult to reduce where research has shown that stomach fat is the most difficult to lose as it is so much harder to break down.
How do you lose visceral fat and subcutaneous fat?
As we often hear, diet and exercise are two big contributing factors to managing weight and lowering your body fat percentage, especially as your testosterone levels are decreasing with age. A reduction in your calorific intake to a healthy level for your body/age and increasing the amount of exercise daily will encourage your body to burn through the reserves of fat, both visceral and subcutaneous.
Can food help in the fight against fat?
Without stating the obvious of what not to eat, there are some foods that will help in the fight against increase of stomach fats. Not only will these foods add little in the way of fat to your body, but they also contain good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), which the body still requires, they are all great replacements for snacks when the time comes.
* Dark Chocolate. We all need a sweet fix from time to time.
* Blueberries. While most fruits are good for our overall health, there's one that
takes the cake when it comes to burning belly fat – no we’re not talking about
cake but – blueberries! Little blue bullets of goodness!
* Leafy Greens.
* Peanut Butter.
How to Lose Belly Fat?
Losing weight and fat at any stage of our lives is a hard ask. We all know that a balanced diet combined with exercise should assist in the process. Unfortunately following such regimes at the best of times is difficult, but along with the active state of food and exercise, there are more passive habits you can adopt to assist in the reduction of belly fat.
1. Get Sufficient Sleep. (Researchers have discovered a link between sleep
deprivation and consuming extra calories. (Not because your awake for longer
2. Stay Hydrated. (Also great for the skin and keeping the belly full)
3. Limit Sugar.
4. Eat More Fibre.
5. Eat More Protein.
6. Chew Thoroughly.
Getting into shape, no matter what time of the year it is, is tough. With summer on the horizon, it's easier to get out and about to exercise. We all feel a lot better when we are in shape and even the pursuit of a healthier gut and lifestyle can go a long way to enjoying the summer too.
It appears mother nature has it in for us. She takes away the commodities of our youth; Testosterone (strength, hair, erections) and leaves us with Oestrogen (Moobs). I think you would be hard pressed to say that we're getting a fair deal, but rather than complain, we must adapt or die. What better reason to get outside than a little ‘me’ time and get fit…Enjoy the Summer!
With all the pressure on heating bills, we probably all turned the dial down a bit, which then lead to feeling cold, which then lead to increased calories to keep warm - you can't win ! My winter has led to gaining an extra 5kg - I am going to follow Billy Connolly's 4 word advice to losing weight - Eat less, exercise more ! The sun is out so time to get out on the bike and/or swim in the river/lake !