Belly fat is not simply an aesthetic concern but truly a health problem since it has an impact on your body and increases the risks of cardiovascular diseases. However, we should distinguish between two kinds of belly fat:
• Subcutaneous fat, which is stored just under your skin and that you can feel by pinching your skin on your belly or your thighs.
• Visceral fat, also known as deep fat, is an accumulation of fat, also called adipose tissue, much deeper under the skin, around your organs in the abdominal region, including the liver, pancreas, kidneys and the intestines. Visceral fat cannot be pinched, it's rather firm.
It is the visceral fat that is dangerous and associated with various health problems.
Visceral fat is dangerous since it alters hormonal functions such as the regulation of mood, appetite and weight. It can also increase your "bad cholesterol" and your blood pressure. Last but not least, it makes your body less sensitive to insulin, therefore increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Visceral fat increases the risks of health problems and diseases like:
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- breast cancer
- colorectal cancer
- Alzheimer's disease
Many people don't know whether they have visceral fat or not. If you have a prominent belly or a large waist, it's a clear sign that you probably store visceral fat. If you want to be 100% sure, it's possible to undergo an MRI scan but it's quite an expensive method. An easy and quite reliable way to find out whether you have visceral fat is to simply measure your waist circumference.
Take a tape measure and circle your waist. Place the tape above your belly button and below your rib cage and measure your waist without pulling your stomach. The value should be lower than
- 35 inches (88 cm) for women
- 40 inches (102 cm) for men
If your waist is above these values, chances are high that you store visceral fat.
Visceral fat is something you should take seriously and start fighting right now. It's important to understand the causes of visceral fat in order to efficiently get rid off it and prevent it.
Weight gain and excess fat is mainly due to a positive energy balance (or caloric balance), that is when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. However, visceral fat is different from other kinds of fat and also has very specific factors like stress, hormones and genes. Here are the factors that cause abdominal visceral fat:
• A diet too rich in fats and sugars. Absorbed fats are too large to be expended and are then stored in fat cells. The more fat someone has, the more visceral fat he will also have.
• A sedentary lifestyle and a lack of physical activity. The WHO recommends to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity or 1 hour 15 minutes of vigorous activity per week. This is the minimum requirement! When you do sports and exercise, your body burns calories and fat. On the contrary, when you have an insufficient level of physical activity, your body tends to accumulate fat.
• Stress seems to have an important impact on visceral fat. Researchers have found that the hormone released by stress, cortisol, was responsible for an increased level of visceral fat.
• Alcohol consumption in high quantities can promote the accumulation of deep fat.
• Hormones, especially the fluctuations in hormone levels, play a role in the fat cell storage. Estrogens and progesterone (female sex hormones) promote the storage of fat. Some periods of life such as menopause, characterized by hormonal changes, are associated with changes in body fat distribution. Studies have shown that abdominal fat, especially visceral fat, was more pronounced in post-menopausal women.
• Genetics: Researchers have observed variations in abdominal visceral fat levels among the population and tried to find out to which extent visceral fat was linked to genetic components.
When you consume more calories than needed by your body and you do not exercise enough to burn these extra calories, then your body accumulates fat. If on top of that, you are stressed, then the accumulated fat will probably become visceral fat. To get rid off belly fat, you should essentially change your diet and increase your level of physical activity!
Exercise and sports are absolutely essential to burn calories and fat as well as to build muscles. They definitely belong to a healthy lifestyle and should be part of any diet since sports and exercise are one of the two variables, if not the most important, of the energy balance equation (calorie expenditure). Cycling on a stationary bike is very efficient in burning calories (300 to 700 kcal per hour) and fat since you can alternate between cardio exercises (aerobic zone) and HIIT workouts (anaerobic zone) and thus burn belly fat faster. Moreover, the exercise bike has great benefits on your body, such as help you tone your legs, thighs and buttocks, and also has amazing effects on your brain such as reducing stress, which is one of the factors influencing belly fat.
The good news is that belly fat is the easiest fat to burn, unlike subcutaneous fat which is more difficult to get rid off. Cycling on a stationary bike is very effective in preventing or fighting belly fat and visceral fat. You should however exercise regularly to get these benefits. You should also combine regular exercise with a healthy and well-balanced diet in order to prevent belly fat. If you do that, you will lose weight and lose your visceral fat!
A healthy lifestyle, which consists of regular exercise combined with a well-balanced diet, is the best prevention against belly fat!
The right combination of cardio and HIIT workout seems to be more efficient in fighting visceral fat. Here are 2 workout plans you can follow: The first one for losing 0,5 kg in a month and the second one for more advanced that will help you lose 1 kg in one month. You can start with the first one for 4 to 6 weeks and then move on to the second one.
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