The Dangers of Excess Belly Fat

When it comes to health and fitness, the mid-section remains one of the most highly sought-after areas people want to change and need help losing:

…You’re noticing a pooch and pants fitting snugger.

…You’re rocking the “dad bod” and feeling uncomfortable.

…You’re dealing with post-baby weight or, the dreaded menopause belly and nothing you do works!

Understandably, these things can make you feel a bit self-conscious about your appearance and uncomfortable in your own skin. However, along with how you look and feel, there are serious health implications when it comes to storing excess fat that can have a very negative affect on your health. In today’s blog you are learning:

  • The major health risks of excess belly fat

  • Signs You’re At Risk!

  • 5 Ways to reduce belly fat and feel your best!


First of all, there are two (different) types of body fat:

  • Visceral fat: body fat stored and found deep inside the belly surrounding vital organs: liver, pancreas, heart, and intestines.

  • Subcutaneous fat: body fat found directly beneath the skin. This is the body fat you can see and pinch.

The focus of this blog is visceral fat. Now, while some visceral fat is normal and helps protect organs, too much poses serious health risks because when your body stores excess fat, it cannot function properly.

Excess visceral fat puts you at greater risk for major health implications that will affect your quality of life and shorten your life span:

#1. Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Visceral fat is strongly associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. Visceral fat produces inflammatory substances and hormones that disrupt normal metabolic processes, leading to insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar levels, and high blood pressure. Over time, these disturbances progress into full-blown disease states and health issues:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Cancers

  • Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Stroke

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

#2. Adverse Effects on Organ Function: When visceral fat takes hold of and surrounds your organs, their ability to function becomes severely compromised. Examples:

  • Liver disease: When fat accumulates in the liver, it can lead to fatty liver disease which results in inflammation, scarring and liver damage over time.

  • Reflux: Visceral fat can also be a culprit of reflux due to the extra pressure in your abdomen.

  • Cardiovascular disease: Excess fat stored around your heart and blood vessels can lead to atherosclerosis: plaque buildup in your arteries that disrupts blood flow which causes heart attacks, strokes and other problems!

#3. Hormonal Imbalances: Belly fat is metabolically active and secretes various hormones that influence your appetite, metabolism and energy balance.

Excessive belly fat disrupts the balance of these hormones which can affect mood, appetite regulation and even fertility. Stress, poor diet, poor sleep, and lack of exercise add fuel to the hormonal fire if they are also not monitored and improved upon.

#4. Quality of Life: Beyond the negative health implications, excess belly fat can also compromise your mental and emotional well-being, self-confidence and body image.

Low self-esteem is a common psychological hurdle when carrying excess weight, especially when it comes to the abdomen. These negative emotions and feelings directly affect your relationships, social interactions and quality of life. This commonly results in a cycle of emotional/stress eating; leading to even more weight gain.


So, how do you know if you have too much visceral fat and are at serious risk for major health issues?

There are several ways to estimate the amount of visceral fat in the body, including a super fancy and expensive machine that reads this for you. Good news! I have 2 quick and easy ways you can measure visceral fat from the comfort of your own home so that you understand your risk:

1. Waist measurement: When measuring your waist, use a soft measuring tape. I recommend using your belly button as a starting point when wrapping the tape around your waist to ensure you’re consistently measuring your waist the same way each time.

  • Women: waist size of 35 inches or more = increased risk for health problems directly related to high levels of visceral fat.

  • Men: waist size of 40 inches or more = increased risk for health problems directly related to high levels of visceral fat.

2. Waist-to-hip ratio: This is calculated by dividing your waist size by your hip size. To measure your hip size, use the soft measuring tape and measure around the widest part of your hips over your butt. From there, divide your waist size by your hip.

  • Women: waist-to-hip ratio higher than 0.85 = indicator you are at a higher risk for disease.

  • Men: waist-to-hip ratio higher than 0.90 = indicator you are at a higher risk for disease.


If you are at risk or, want to prevent your risk for serious health issues, I have 5 proven strategies to reduce visceral fat so that you can improve your health, enhance your quality of life, extend your life span, and feel / look your ultimate best!

The most effective way to decrease visceral fat and keep it off is by adding healthy habits into your daily life until they become as consistent and routine as brushing your teeth!

Contrary to popular belief, there are no magic pills, diets, tricks, teas, or supplements that will do the job. It comes down to what you repeatedly do or don’t day each and every day.

#1. Eat A Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet includes tons of nutrient rich, real foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, heart-healthy fats, fresh fruits, and vegetables. This stuff is what you find mostly on the perimeter of grocery stores. Adding in more real foods makes you feel better, boosts energy levels, keeps you satisfied, and improves your health!

  • Start by writing down everything you eat in a typical day.

  • From there, identify the gaps to see where you can begin adding in more of these foods.

  • Keep it simple! Maybe it’s a piece of fruit with breakfast or, adding veggies at dinner (eat things you like!).

  • Eating these foods in the appropriate portion sizes for your individual needs is super important! If you are unsure of your needs, a nutrition coach like me can help you determine the right amounts of foods for your needs and goals!

#2. Exercise Regularly: At minimum, aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day and include both cardio and strength training. Along with regular exercise, walking is one of the absolute best ways to improve your overall health!

  • Start by finding a coach you can work with and an exercise program that is beginner friendly / adaptable to your individual needs (exactly what we do here at Results Fitness!).

  • Next, add in a 5–10-minute daily walk! Make this a non-negotiable and fit it in where you can (everyone has 5 minutes to spare): before work, during lunch break, after dinner….

#3. Get Quality Sleep: Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night helps reduce your risk of disease. Not only does the amount of sleep matter but the quality of sleep, too!

Quality sleep means you are sleeping soundly throughout the night and waking feeling well-rested.  Long gone are the days of wearing the lack of sleep as a badge of honor!

  • Start by setting a bedtime every night to get at least 7 hours.

  • Avoid screen time an hour before your bedtime.

  • Create the ideal sleep space: pitch dark and cool.

  • New moms/dads: if you have little ones at home, this can be tricky! Do what you can while being diligent about using downtime to sleep versus scrolling, binging Netflix, etc.

#4. Reduce Stress: High-stress levels activate the hormone cortisol; which is responsible for controlling the body’s “fight or fight” response.

Increased cortisol levels can and will trigger the storage of more visceral fat. Find ways to help reduce your stress levels through activities you enjoy and can realistically commit to.

  • Start by finding relaxing, calming activities you can easily access and do: yoga, journaling, meditation, reading, warm baths…

  • Find 5 minutes each day to perform the activity and set your phone alarm so you don’t forget!

#5. Limit Alcohol: By regularly consuming alcohol, you are slowing down and affecting the rate at which your body metabolizes fat – yikes!

When your body is busy burning off alcohol, it cannot burn fat. Consistent alcohol consumptions mean your body will not and cannot burn as much fat as it normally would if you didn’t drink alcohol. Overtime, this is going to lead to excess visceral fat stored within the body.

  • Start by evaluating how much and how often you’re drinking alcohol.

  • Set limits: going dry will be the absolute best-case scenario buuut, if you still want to enjoy those adults bevs, reduce overall consumption – examples:

    • Instead of drinking during the week, limit alcohol to the weekends.

    • Aim to stick with a moderate amount: 1 drink or less per day for women and 2 drinks or less per day for men.

The impact visceral fat renders on your health cannot be overstated. It is not just about aesthetics, but also safeguarding your health and longevity!

By carrying excess fat, you pose significant risks for heart disease, diabetes, and many other disease states. However, the good news is that you have the power to control it via the 5 strategies mentioned above.

Building healthy habit will go a long way in how you look, how you feel and, your overall health!

Start small by evaluating what you are doing now and committing to adding in small, incremental changes that overtime will have a positive, lasting impression on your life!

If you need help understanding your risks, building healthy habits and improving your health, book a FREE intro with our team today!

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