Everyday I see people of all shapes and sizes. Tall, short, large bone frame, small bone frame, male, female, overweight and lean...you get it. I’m lucky enough to work with a few of these people, making their lives healthier. While the underlying focus is always health, I usually work with people on weight loss - and helping them especially if they have too much body fat.
Do you have too much body fat?
Body fat is an important thing to understand. We all have it. We all need it. And not all body fat is the same.
Brown fat, for example, makes up about 3% of our body fat and helps food turn into heat. Think of brown fat as a warm thermal blanket around our body. Babies are born with a lot. As we age, it starts to diminish.
Subcutaneous fat is pretty much found everywhere. We all have it in different amounts. And we all need it.
That said, the more common locations of this type of fat have picked up a few nicknames over the years for lending a hand in giving our bodies some shape:
- lunch lady arms
- love handles
- saddle bags or
- your booty
It’s the pinchable fat that is more of a nuisance than anything. You can grab it with your hand.
Relax! You’re probably unhappy with how this fat looks on your body - and you can definitely eat right for your body type or follow The Belly Burn Plan to change that, but it’s not as harmful, and generally not associated with stroke or cardiovascular disease.
Subcutaneous fat, even the kind found behind our arms, through the middle of our back and hips and thighs is in communication with our endocrine system (aka Hormone Central). It can be some of the most stubborn fat to lose, so be patient.
The Problem Is Visceral Fat
Visceral fat is found packed tightly inside our body, especially close to our vital organs. When I work with people who have too much body fat, I pull out the big guns and try to motivate everyone differently.
We all have some amount of visceral fat, but it starts to become a problem when we accumulate too much.
Visceral fat is metabolically active closely associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and all the rest of the conditions no one wants to live with.
If you have a larger gut and it’s hard, you probably have too much visceral fat.
Keep in mind, it is very possible to have too much visceral body fat and still appear leaner. Just because you don’t have a big gut, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear of having too much fat of this nature.
Another way of saying this is you can definitely be “skinny fat”.
Everyone should be watchful of visceral fat and never assume that they’re immune to gaining too much body fat in this area.
Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio Tells A Lot
One way to determine if you have too much belly fat is to simply measure your waist to hip ratio. Simply divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference.
A healthy waist-to-hip ratio is .85 or less for women, and .90 or less for men.
Women's Waist-to-Hip Circumference
- Jenny has a 28 inch waist circumference and a 36 inch hip circumference.
28 divided by 36 = .77
Jenny probably does not have too much visceral fat.
- Dawn has a 32 inch waist circumference and a 36 inch hip circumference.
32 divided by 36 = .88
Dawn probably has too much visceral fat.
- Sally has a 38 inch waist circumference* and a 44 inch hip circumference.
38 divided by 44 = .86
Sally probably has too much visceral fat.
Jenny is in pretty good shape in terms of how much body fat she has. She’s a pear shape and, at the very least, is not at as great of a risk for diseases associated with too much belly fat.
Dawn probably doesn’t look like she’s overfat, but her waist-to-hip ratio is a little too high. Dawn should work on creating nutrition habits that lower her belly fat.
Even though Sally may appear bigger than Dawn, she’s actually just outside of the “comfort zone” for being in a healthy belly fat range.
*Sally’s waist circumference is the national average in the United States today, up two inches from 12 years ago when the national average was 36 inches.
Men's Waist-to-Hip Circumference
- John has a 34 inch waist circumference and a 36 inch hip circumference.
34 divided by 41 = .82
John probably does not have too much visceral fat.
- Jimmy has a 40 inch waist circumference* and a 44 inch hip circumference.
40 divided by 44 = .90
Jimmy probably has too much visceral fat.
- Paul has a 46 inch waist circumference and a 49 inch hip circumference.
46 divided by 49 = .94
Paul probably has too much visceral fat.
*John’s waist circumference is the national average in the United States today, up six inches from just 12 years ago when the average was 34 inches.
There are fancier, more expensive ways to test whether or not you have too much belly fat, but a good measuring tape ought to provide you with enough information to assume whether or not you need to do something.
The Good News About Belly Fat
Remember when I mentioned that subcutaneous fat, the pinchable kind that doesn’t really hurt us...it’s just more of a nuisance? Well, it turns out that type of fat is a lot harder to shift that belly fat.
If you have belly fat and need to do something about it, there’s some good news. You can lose belly fat fairly quickly. That is, it’s really responsive to eating the right foods.
Usually, the reason we accumulate too much belly fat is because we have some bad habits so deeply ingrained we don’t even realize they’re habits anymore.
If you’ve done the calculations and you know you have too much fat, here are a few things you can do right now.
- Get the free download with this article. It’s for Apple Shaped Bodies and is extremely effective. It’s only two days, but you can repeat the two days as often as you like.
- Order The Belly Burn Plan. It’s good and has helped a lot of smart, motivated people shed unwanted weight through their belly area.
- Work with me. Private services aren’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in hearing from me directly, fill out this interest form.
Other Ways to Lose Belly Fat
- Cut back on sugar. I mean, really cut back on it because sugar is probably the greatest belly fat accumulator of all. I usually recommend people cut out most fruit, all refined sugar, cakes, cookies, diet foods (including diet sodas), etc.
I know, it can be a rough road for a few weeks, but once you’re over the hump and you start not just seeing a difference, but feeling it, too, you’ll have enough motivation to keep going.
- Eat more healthy fat. I’m not talking corn, canola or soybean oils. I mean, eat more of the good kind! Avocados, olive oil, olives, raw walnuts, eggs, coconut oil, etc. You don’t need to go as far as a keto-style diet, but you don’t need to be bashful either.
Fat helps keep you full. It’s good for your brain. And it makes your skin look amazing, so you just keep rockin’ it, gorgeous!
- Move! You don’t need to do Belly Burn workouts just yet (although, they do shape up your body pretty nicely). Rather, go for a walk, take a yoga class - just get back to detaching from the grind of your day - if only for 10 minutes and feel your body move.
- Meditate - even if you’re not a “meditator”. When you meditate, all you really do is clear you mind and breathe. Just breathe. You can do this anywhere. Turn off your radio. Turn off your TV. Turn off your phone, your laptop or whatever is distracting you. Just sit there and breathe.
Some of the most motivated and accomplished people from all walks of life meditate - from academics to athletes and everyone in between.
So, what do you think? Do you have too much body fat?
If you answered no, great. You keep doing what you’re doing and always be open to healthy ideas.
If you answered yes, you’re in the right place. You can make big changes, no matter who you are and no matter what obstacles are in your way. You don’t need to be a size 2 or fit into skinny jeans. You just need to make a few healthier changes.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission that helps to keep this blog going. Thank you.