Abdominal adipose tissue better known as belly fat, is a serious problem. While being overweight is not good, the location of where your fat is deposited is a bigger issue. This notion is only starting to work its way into popular media however, the message is just not moving fast enough.
It is important to understand that not all fat is the same. The location of fat deposition is important as different risks are associated with different areas. Women have more of the stuff clinicians and researchers call subcutaneous fat. It is right below the skin and typically feels more soft and squishy. This depot while not good, is not as strongly associated with health risk as the stuff we call visceral fat.
Men on the other hand, tend to have less subcutaneous fat (especially around the belly) and more visceral fat. Visceral fat is the stuff that resides deep within your abdomen and surrounds and sometimes invades your internal organs. It is the fat depot associated with the greatest health risk for developing chronic diseases such as Type II Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Not everyone who has a belly however, has a high volume of visceral fat. This fat depot increases with age and while more predominant in men, still afflicts and resides within the abdomens of women.
How can you tell if you have it without access to an MRI? Feel your belly. If you have a larger belly (>102 cm in men, >88 cm in women) and it feels pretty hard to touch this does NOT mean you have sweet abs. This is indicative of visceral fat pushing your abdominal wall out, making it feel rigid and hard.
OK so this fat is bad, scary, absolutely no good. But, I do have some good news. If you have it, you can most definitely get rid of it. Fortunately, this fat depot is very sensitive to exercise and changes in diet. In fact, it is more sensitive to exercise and reduced caloric intake than subcutaneous fat depots. Thus, you will likely lose fat from this area before anywhere else and in turn, help to improve your short- and long-term health.
So feel your belly. If you have a belly and it feels rock hard, definitely set up an appointment with your doctor to make that everything is working just right. Once that’s over and done with, work to find a physical activity that interests and excites you. The more active you can be, the better for both your belly and your body.