In America, obesity has risen almost 20% since the 1980s. We are consuming 20% more calories, 40% more meat and 45% more fat than our counterparts did in the mid-1900s. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Americans are also not burning enough calories and 80% of us don’t get enough daily exercise. When a decline in activity is combined with an increase in caloric intake, the final product equals more fat storage in the body. As the fat stores grow, they can contribute to inflammation and many different diseases, including cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart disease. Fat builds layer upon layer, from subcutaneous fat around our arms, thighs and face to deeper intra-abdominal fat which surrounds the organs and expands a person’s mid-section. This is what we call visceral fat but is more commonly referred to as belly fat. This is the most dangerous type of fat there is and forms a gel-like layer beneath the subcutaneous fat that is extremely difficult to lose if proper weight loss techniques are not employed. Losing this type of weight is difficult but can be done with proper nutrition, exercise and guidance. However, if belly fat is left untreated, it begins to act as an organ, triggering an inflammation response by the body and upsetting normal hormone functions as well. It can create its own hormones, which affect appetite, weight, mood and brain function through the brain/gut connection. Hormones and chemical signals are sent from the gut to the brain in response to our appetite and to alert us when we feel full. If there is a breakdown in this chemical feedback system, we are in danger of over-eating, which leads to excess fat storage. Excess fat storage also occurs when we eat refined processed sugars and carbohydrates, which triggers a large release of insulin from the pancreas and ultimately leads to weight gain.
The Role of Insulin: Belly Fat, Weight Gain and Fat Storage
Insulin is the main hormone involved in blood sugar control, affecting appetite, mood and weight gain. When we eat a meal high in carbohydrates or sugar, the food products breakdown in the stomach to usable sugars, like glucose and fructose. These sugars need to be transported to the cells to provide us with energy, and the hormone that is responsible for this transport is insulin. When there is too much glucose in the blood, also known as “high blood sugar”, the pancreas is prompted to release more and more insulin. When insulin levels creep too high in the blood, this can lead to problems like insulin resistance, where the cells don’t respond to the signals produced by insulin and therefore, do not accept the glucose molecules, which get stored as fat instead. This happens a lot more quickly when we consume refined processed carbohydrates, like white bread or white rice. Research has shown that insulin resistance promotes weight gain, and has been associated with abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL (the “good cholesterol”). Insulin resistance syndrome, or metabolic syndrome, occurs when most of these symptoms are observed in an individual and can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How to Lose Belly Fat in 6 Steps
Luckily, when we lose belly fat, our risk of diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and inflammation decreases as well. So losing belly fat is not only going to make your waist line shrink, it is also going to increase your longevity and vitality as well! Losing this type of fat is not easy, however, and requires dedication, support and motivation. Dr. Pacholec has outlined below the most effective ways to lose belly fat and keep it off. Call Dr. Pacholec at either our Lutz, FL or St. Petersburg, FL locations to set up a weight loss consultation and get started on your journey towards better health and happiness!
Barbara Pacholec, MD
Dr Pacholec is Board Certified in Bariatric Medicine and Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. She has run a successful practice specializing in medical weight loss, hormone replacement therapy and anti-aging/regenerative and functional medicine for the past 20 years in Lutz, FL in Tampa Bay. In January 2018, she opened a satellite practice in St Petersburg, FL which also specializes in medical weight loss, hormone replacement therapy, and anti-aging/regenerative and functional medicine.