Q: How do you know the difference between the â€œinches you can pinchâ€ and damaging abdominal fat?
A: Hi T.C.,
Thereâ€™s a ton of research linking belly fat to serious health risks. Ab flab can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and even premature death. So how do you know if youâ€™re at risk? Well, the inches you can pinch, as you say, are made up of subcutaneous fat, the layer of fat that lies just beneath the skin. This kind of fat is what makes you feel insecure in a bikini â€“ it’s where cellulite and dimples occur. Still, subcutaneous fat does not pose serious health concerns.
The bad kind of fat is called visceral fat. Visceral comes from the word â€œviscera,â€ which literally means guts, or your internal organs. Visceral fat dwells deep inside your abdominal cavity, wrapping itself around your vital organs and resting inside an organ called the omentum. As this fat grows, it begins to push your belly out as your organs get shoved forward. Visceral fat isn’t like the harmless fat you find right under your skin; it’s like a living monster inside your body, spewing out hormones and toxins that increase cellular inflammation and make it difficult for important organs, such as your kidneys and liver, to do their job.
So if you’ve only got a few inches you can pinch on your belly, congratulations â€“ be sure to continue following a healthy lifestyle. However, if your belly protrudes, you should make some immediate changes to your life. To see where you stand, take out a tape measure and measure your waist right at your belly button. If this number is more than 32.5 for women, or 37 for men, your belly fat is dangerous and must be trimmed immediately!