Modern life can be and usually is incredibly hectic. With the constant pressures to make a living and to care for a family, time is at a premium, and it can seem to be hard to find the time to get proper exercise. At the same time, our society is flooded with processed foods that while convenient, contain large quantities of less than beneficial ingredients like excess sugars and saturated fats. In such an environment, it is very easy to slowly put on extra, unwanted and unneeded pounds. This process can be slow and insidious, and over time a once healthy physique can begin to succumb to this assault.
To add insult to injury, this excess fat tends to accumulate at certain well known areas of the body. Often it begins to build up around the hips, forming the notorious love handles. Next, it begins to collect on the abdomen, creating the pot belly. In addition, while this externally obvious process is taking place, in many cases the body will begin to deposit fat internally, and this can virtually surround the organs found within the abdomen.
And we’re not done. As if everything else was not enough, cholesterol ingested from unhealthy foods begins to accumulate on the walls of our blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis and beginning the march towards maladies such as heart attack and high blood pressure.
So as you can see, losing excess weight is not just a matter of esthetics, it’s also an issue which is vital to our overall health, well being, and quality of life.
All of this brings to mind some obvious questions. What exactly is what we call fat, and why does it seem to so easily appear? What are some other long term effects of excess weight? How can we modify our diets to battle weight gain? What are some dietary supplements we can use to aid us in the fight for fitness? And, what are some physical activities we can engage in to get back in shape? Lets answer these questions.
WHAT IS FAT, AND WHY DOES IT SEEM TO ACCUMULATE SO EASILY?
Fat in general has a bad name, but contrary to popular belief, the body actually needs some fat in order to function properly. The fats found in adipose tissue, the fatty deposits found under the skin and around the organs, serve to store energy which may be required in times of need. This fat also serves as an insulator and a shock absorber. In addition, fat performs many other vital bodily functions. That being said, there are fats which are considered ‘good’, or beneficial, and there are fats which are considered ‘bad’, or physically harmful. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Harmful fats include trans and saturated fats.
Lets talk about why these fats are considered good and bad. The fats and cholesterol in the foods we eat is not able to be dissolved in the bloodstream or in water. To overcome this issue, the body encases these fats in structures known as lipoproteins. There are two varieties which are of interest to us: Low density lipoproteins, or LDL, and high density lipoproteins, or HDL. LDL transports cholesterol around the body from the liver. Cells in the body use some of this cholesterol for bodily functions, but sometimes too much LDL exits in the bloodstream. This excess LDL tends to cause plaque buildup on blood vessels, and we all know what this can lead to.
In contrast, HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood and takes it back to the liver for disposal. The important point to take away from all this is that ‘good’, or polyunsaturated fats in the diet promote higher HGL levels, and saturated fats promote higher LDL levels. For this reason, we need to monitor and control the types of fat which we consume.
As to why it can be so easy to accumulate, the reason once again lies with our diets. A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and simple carbohydrates is a quadruple threat. High levels of the trans and saturated fats are often stored in adipose tissue. Excess calories from sugar and simple carbohydrates are also often converted to bodily fat. Couple all this with a general lack of exercise and a low metabolism, and weight gain can proceed at an astonishing rate.
WHAT ARE SOME LONG TERM HEALTH EFFECTS OF EXCESS WEIGHT?
Much research has been done on the long term effects of obesity and excess weight, and the verdict isn’t good. A short list of the ailments linked to excess weight includes;
Elevated risk of Heart Disease
Higher rates of Type 2 Diabetes
Several types of Cancer
This is by no means a complete list of all the ailments known and suspected of being caused by excess weight, but it makes one point abundantly clear: Getting lean and fit can and will extend your life and increase your quality of life.
HOW CAN WE MODIFY OUR DIETS TO BATTLE WEIGHT GAIN?
The basic ingredient in dietary health is an awareness of the contents of the foods that we eat, and of the effects of the ingredients. The traditional diet of many people includes high levels of trans and saturated fats, found in fried foods, red meat, and processed foods. It also usually includes an unhealthy dose of sugar and simple carbs.
If we eat like this, we basically need to reverse what we are doing. The healthy diet should include large amounts of green leafy vegetables. Meat should be eaten in moderation, and be mostly limited to fish and chicken. Carbohydrates should be consumed in the complex form, which includes whole grains. Sugar should be used in moderation. If you implement these measures, you will have taken the first step in the battle against weight gain, and will be well on your way to losing belly fat.
WHAT ARE SOME DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS WE CAN USE TO HELP OUT?
The main focus of our quest to control weight gain should be our diet, but there are some dietary supplements which, when used wisely, can aid us in reaching our goals. The supplements can be classified in a few basic types. Fat burners, fat blockers, appetite suppressants, and metabolic enhancers.
Fat burners help to promote the process of thermogenesis. This process helps to encourage the body to burn fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates, and also serves to raise body temperature.
Fat blockers bind to fats in the foods which we consume and help to prevent them from being admitted into the body.
Appetite suppressants aid in curbing craving, thus helping to reduce caloric intake.
Metabolic enhancers can help to increase the rate of metabolism, thus burning more calories.
Used properly, and after having consulted with ones doctor, these supplements can serve and important role in weight elimination.
WHAT ARE SOME PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES WE CAN ENGAGE IN TO GET BACK INTO SHAPE?
Just as key as having a dietary plan, we need to start an exercise regimen. An effective regimen should include activities that build strength and flexibility, as well as activities which improve cardiovascular health. As such, your plan should include regular weight training, which can include free weights, nautilus equipment, and calisthenics. It should also include activities such as swimming, running, cycling, and may even include an energy intensive sport such as tennis. Activities such as yoga can promoted increased flexibility. And, in the quest to lose belly fat, don’t forget to engage in targeted exercises such as crunches, sit ups, twists, and the medicine ball.
So in conclusion, maintaining a healthy diet and an exercise regimen will improve your health and quality of life. It will rid your body of excess fat everywhere it exists, including on your belly.