Some of us may be blessed with ‘skinny genes’, while others put on weight if they so much as steal glances at food pictures on the Internet. There are many factors that influence weight gain and fat deposition, and they can be as diverse as age, genetics, lifestyle, hormonal and thyroid activity fluctuations, activity levels and diet… You get the drift. So, what should you focus on when faced with this information overload?
Subcutaneous & Visceral Fat
There are two kinds of fat found on your body. Subcutaneous fat is the visible fat you see on your arms and legs, that lies just under your skin. Visceral fat, on the other hand, is the fat that surrounds your internal organs, like your stomach, liver and intestines and is not visible, as it lies inside your abdominal cavity. It can also be found in your arteries.
Studies have shown that the presence of significant amounts of visceral fat increases the risk of stroke, certain cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, among others. While you cannot see visceral fat with the naked eye, you can roughly gauge if you are at risk by measuring your waistline.
Abdominal obesity is a condition marked by a waistline of at least 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. If you suffer from abdominal obesity, you can take it as a fairly good indication that you run the risk of having the aforementioned health conditions linked to visceral fat.
You Are What You Eat
One of the key ways to reduce both visceral and subcutaneous fat is by controlling your diet and nutrition.
Cut Out Sugary Drinks
If you are one who likes to accompany your meals with soft drinks or sugary drinks, it is time to replace this habit with plain water. Your regular can of soda could contain more than 10 teaspoons of sugar! And if you think you are having a healthier beverage by sipping on your favourite frappé, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Consuming excess sugar is probably the primary cause of excess tummy fat, so you would certainly be doing yourself and your waistline a favour by cutting it out.
Cut Back on Carbohydrates
Do you remember the time when low-fat diets were all the rage, but they left us feeling tired, hungry and fatter than before? Ever since then, there have been a plethora of diets being peddled to us over the years, from Atkins and South Beach to the Zone. Most of them have the common denominator of manipulating the types and ratios of macronutrients, especially that of carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are severely restricted, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis, which means you burn stored fat instead of glucose for energy. How nifty is that?
Load Up on Protein & Good Fats
If you are cutting back on your carbohydrates, you would need to replenish that source of energy with other macronutrients, like protein and fat. Especially if you are engaging in exercise, your body would require more protein and good fat, to prevent muscle from being broken down to provide your body with energy. Good protein sources are lean chicken, beef, fish, soy and eggs. When consuming fat, be sure to cut down on saturated and trans fat in favour of beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) like olive oil, nuts, salmon, mackerel, sardines, avocados and flaxseeds, to name a few.
Move That Body
If you are like most people with sedentary jobs, exercise could make the difference between those tummy rolls and a more svelte waistline. With the stresses of modern-day living, it would be easy to slip into a lifestyle devoid of any kind of physical activity. Isn’t it any wonder why cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death around the world (yes, even in Singapore)?
Activities like jogging, cycling, swimming and rowing all count towards this form of exercise, which helps you to increase your heart rate as you burn calories.
Strength training involves increasing muscle mass by lifting weights or engaging in weight-bearing exercises. This does not just help you to maintain strong bones; it also helps you to effectively increase your resting metabolic rate by burning more calories even when you’re just sitting down, as muscle is metabolically active compared to fat.
Freeze That Tummy Fat
You must admit that technology has its advantages. If your schedule does not allow you to pay scrupulous attention to your diet or devote time to exercising. Or, if you have tried diet and exercise to absolutely no avail, perhaps what you need is a tried-and-tested method of eliminating unwanted fat from your tummy, for example.
Fat freezing, or cryolipolysis, is a non-invasive method of body sculpting that reduces subcutaneous fat in areas that usually do not respond well to both diet and exercise, like your abdominal fat, back fat, lower abs, buttocks and thighs. An applicator is applied to target areas to produce a vacuum, selectively cooling the fat to very low temperatures that freeze fat cells to death.
These fat cells are then permanently removed from the body as waste by your natural metabolism over the course of the next few weeks and months. This method appears to be safe with few and minor side effects and it is effective, if you do not have large amounts of fat to lose, or if you wish to only drop a couple of dress sizes.