It is not an attractive feature. That protruding belly antagonizes you and you want to get rid of it. Also known as beer belly, pot tummy or alcohol gut, it is just not a blot on your figure but carries a great risk to your health. The pot belly is associated with obesity, which is unhealthy accumulation of fat around the body. We may call it abdominal obesity. It is not just limited to generally obese people. Slim persons can also have a protruding belly which is no less risky.
The important point to be noted is that we need fat. It is a vital part of our immune system and defends our body against bacteria and viruses. It covers our inner organs, protecting them from infection and trauma.
Apart from Triglycerides, the form of fat in our bloodstream, there are two kinds of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Also called intramuscular fat, subcutaneous fat is what we can see and pinch if we want to. It is located beneath our skin and accounts for about 20% our body weight. This is the form of fat in which energy is stored as for future use. The fat also has blood vessels and nerves and acts as a cushion around internal organs.
However, it is the visceral fat we need to be wary of. Also known as intra-abdominal fat or organ fat, it is accumulated deep inside the body, around and between organs such as kidney, liver spleen and intestines. Limited to only the abdomen, the visceral fat is in a semi fluid state and is a source of quick energy. It accounts for 10% of the total body fat and protects the abdominal organs from trauma. However, an excess amount of visceral fat is dangerous. It will cause the fat to wrap around the organs, preventing them from functioning efficiently. It is associated with various health hazards like type-2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke etc.
Bad eating habits are the major reasons for pot belly. When we take in more calories than we can process, it naturally build up. Genetics also plays a significant role in developing pot belly. Alcohol consumption and stress also contribute to the situation. Another reason is the decline of sex hormones along with aging.
Exercises like crunches can strengthen the abs and other muscles, but can not shed the fat that has been stored under the belly. One thing about the visceral fat is that it is the easiest to break up. Cardio exercises like running, swimming and cycling can help to reduce the fat added with a controlled diet. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high fiber should be included in the diet.
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