How to Control Abdominal Obesity?

Having more BMI or more body fat does not exactly indicate the increased risks of obesity-related diseases. More body fat stored in the abdomen, which is also called as central body fat or best referred to as abdominal obesity, is the best indicator that you are at risk of obesity-related health complications.

The waist would be that part of the torso where the rib cage finishes and the hips begin. It should ideally be the narrowest part of the torso. Abdominal obesity leads to the accumulation of fat around the waist.

Abdominal girth would be the waist size in an individual. It is the measurement of the abdomen mostly along the navel. It is an important indicator of obesity and most importantly heart disease.

According to latest research, waist size and waist to hip ratio are the best available indicators of heart disease. It is even a better indicator than BMI (Body Mass Index). This is so because BMI does not take into consideration body fat percentage. It takes into account only body weight and height. However, it is possible for an athlete to have a BMI over 25 yet have a very low percentage of body fat.

The recommended waist size for men is under 37 inches (84 cms) and under 32 inches (81 cms) for women. The average waist size for men and women is on an increasing trend in the USA.

A study reported that a 14 cm increase in waist size shot up the risk of heart disease by 30%. This particular study was conducted on 160.000 individuals in 63 countries and represents one of the most extensive researches done on the link between obesity and cardiac disease.

Health Effects of Abdominal Obesity

Abdominal obesity has been found to increase the risks of many weight-related diseases like atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which is a result of narrowing of arteries. This in turn leads to heart attack or stroke. Central body fat also causes various health problems like hormonal cancers, sleep apnea, diabetes, ovulatory dysfunction etc.

The recent research says that abdominal obesity can cause colon and rectal cancers, in both men and women. Also, another research study found out that central body fat increases the risk of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer.

How to Control Abdominal Obesity

You can control abdominal obesity, in a very easy and simple way, by following the fat loss guidelines:

Calorie Deficit

The first thing you need to do to control body fat is eating fewer calories by modifying your diet. When you do this your body starts using the body fat stored in different places across the body, but not just in abdomen.

The Process of Fat Burning

In case of men, the body follows a pattern to burn fat from the different body parts. Starting with the face, then arms and legs, upper torso, chest, upper thighs and buttocks and finally abdomen. In case of women, the last place from which fat is burnt are the hips. There is no way one can burn only abdominal fat to control abdominal obesity.

Whole Body Approach

Your abdominal fat is going to be the last that will burn in the process of fat control. So, you need to follow the whole-body approach to control abdominal obesity. Also, don’t forget that you should watch your diet and stay away from fast foods and beverages.

Exercise is Important

Along with the calorie deficit, you also need to concentrate on a regular exercise program to control obesity. Make strength training a part of your exercise regimen, as it is found to be the best technique to burn fat.

No shortcuts please

Yes, there are several obesity surgeries that can help in treating abdominal obesity. But, all these fat-loss shortcuts are not advisable especially if you are not morbidly obese. They are definitely not the healthy options and they have different complications and side effects. Instead, try to follow the “whole-body approach” of fat burning, which we discussed earlier. So, do it the right way.

How Fat is Stored in the Body ?

Human body has 50 – 200 billion fat cells distributed all over the body. In women, these fat cells are concentrated in the areas like breasts, hips, waist and buttocks. In men, these cells are more in chest, abdomen and buttocks. These fat cells store fat molecules called triacylglycerols in them. They are obtained from fatty acids which enter into the blood from the food we eat. An enzyme called Lipase converts fatty acids into tricyglycerols. An important feature about fat cells is that they do not multiply generally, until the body has less number of these cells. Instead fat cells become larger in size as they accumulate more number of fat molecules within them.

How Excess Fat Causes Destruction to the Immune system ?

The immune system is technical name for the natural protection system of our body. It is made up of different types of cells to deal with various kinds of threat. But these cells work together as a unit and there is an inherent balance between them. Excess fat in the body destroys this balance and turns these cells into hostile ones. They start production of a harmful type of cells called Pro-inflammatory immune cells. These cells travel through the blood stream and cause destruction to the body. Research study has found out that even a weight loss of 6 kgs can bring down the presence of these harmful cells by 80 percent.

What is the connection between abdominal girth and heart disease?

Increased fat intake contributes to the waist circumference by getting added on to the omentum. The omentum is a fatty layer of connective tissue located inside the belly and hangs beneath the muscles. The omentum is the easiest available energy source for majority of the internal organs.

The omentum fat is easily used by the liver and it becomes very difficult to use up fat or lose it from any other part of the body. The omentum fat secretes very little adiponectin. Adiponectin is a chemical which reduces stress and inflammation that is related to the hunger controlling hormone leptin.

Higher levels of adiponectin is associated with lower levels of fat. So more the waist size, the less fat regulating adiponectin is secreted. Low levels of this compound is clearly associated with abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other risk factors associated with coronary heart disease.

You could have a look at our article How Abdominal Fat is Harmful and Thigh Fat is Beneficial in Obesity?

Do Abdominal Crunches reduce belly fat?

When it comes to exercising our muscles of the abdomen, the notion is that there is only one undisputed leader in the category. It is the ever famous excruciating mid-riff crunch or sit-up. Belly fat is a recurrent occurrence in almost every American household.

Some Myths about Abdominal Crunches

Sit ups do not reduce belly fat. There is no such thing as spot reduction of fat from a particular body part. It can happen only through invasive methods like liposuction or a tummy tuck. Crunches will not melt away subcutaneous fat in the tummy area. A fat constrained calorie controlled diet along with a considerable calorie burning work out will create a calorie deficiency and will eventually tap in the fat cells of the abdomen for energy.

Body fat is lost as a single unit and not from the organ which is being exercised. Exercising any organ whatsoever does more to body weight in general rather than the contours of the particular organ.

Abdominal sit ups do its best in toning the abdominal muscles once the layer of fat on top of it disappears. On its own, crunches do not qualify as a high intensity workout. Rather, interval training where a spurt of activity would be followed by a brief period of rest is more fat burning than the former. It causes the heart rate to jump more and burns the maximum amount of calories.

Abdominal crunches do not reduce belly fat. Rather, it along with other strenuous exercises like the reverse crunch, leg lifts, hanging leg raises, the plank and incline crunches together can give definition to the mid section muscles.

Read our article Top 5 Exercises to Reduce Belly Fat or 5 Pilates Moves to Reduce Abdominal fat, to get an idea about the exercises which can help with abdominal fat.