Abdominal fat, or visceral adipose tissue (VAT), is defined as the accumulation of excess fat around the abdominal organs. The CDC reports that the greater the amount of VAT, the greater the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. So, aside from expanding your waist, abdominal fat expands your chances for an early death.
The solution to VAT reduction, however, is not always clear. After years of extensive exercise, crash diets, and enough crunches to break a record, belly fat may still persist and plague the victim with ongoing an muffin-top and matching love handles. The last resort? Many individuals feel it may be surgery.
Abdominoplasty, or the “tummy tuck”, is the surgical removal of abdominal fat and excess skin. During this procedure, the abdominal wall is tightened and the appearance of stretch marks are reduced as a result. While an extensive, drastic, and often painful answer to stubborn belly fat, the tummy tuck is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States today. However, is surgery really the last resort for those struggling to eliminate belly fat?
Many focus on spot reduction or diet as a way to eliminate belly fat without surgery and research has found that the right exercise and diet can, indeed, eliminate the need for the surgical route. Taking a look at the main causes of belly fat help to focus in on what the best way to go about attacking these fat cells may be.
Identified causes of belly fat:
Chronic Stress. A study published in the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology links stress to greater accumulations of abdominal fat. Combined with a high-fat diet, visceral adiposity is even more likely to accumulate. The physiological impact of stress on the body causes an oxidative reaction which triggers the storage of belly fat, especially in the female population. Further research also points to a poor diet for those individuals struggling with chronic stress.
Sleep Deprivation. The relationship between poor sleep patterns and obesity has been identified but not clearly understood. Current research suggests that abdominal fat is more likely to accumulate when an individual frequently gets less than 6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
Sugar Consumption. A recent article in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to an increase in abdominal fat. A comparison of diets which contained sugar-sweetened beverages to those that did not, both with similar calorie contents, showed those diets containing sugary beverages had a greater increase in belly.
The best way to combat these causes of belly fat is to focus carefully on diet and lifestyle changes. The right exercises that combine core training with endurance exercise are proven to reduce abdominal fat when combined with a healthy diet. Acknowledging the main causes of belly fat and working on lifestyle changes to sleep patterns, diet, stress, and exercise, will make remarkable differences in waist size.
The Journal of Nutrition, August 2014
Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology, April 2014
Obesity Journal, May 2014