If you want to know if your fat is ANGRY, take a tape measure and run it around your torso at the level of your naval.
If the measurement is over 35 inches for a woman or over 40 for a man, then there is a good chance that you do indeed have “Angry fat”. When I use that term – “angry fat” – I mean fat (mostly abdominal) that is not just passively sitting on our hips and thighs waiting to be used for energy should we ever run out of stored carbohydrates and protein to use. But rather it acts more like an endocrine organ or gland and churns out hormones and other substances that can have a major negative effect on our health. In fact, you don’t even have to be overweight (according to average weight and BMI standards) to have angry fat. Normal weight women who are experiencing frustration with that developing “muffin top” or men who are seeing their “6 pack abs” turning into the not harmless “beer belly” (even if you don’t drink beer!) may be at risk.
Let’s face it…we all have fat. In fact, we all need fat – at least some of it. Healthy fat percentages vary by gender and age. For men it should be somewhere between 8 and 24% and for women between 21 and 35%. (It can be difficult to determine body fat composition – but a good rule of thumb is that your waist circumference should be no more than ½ of your height in inches.)
But what we are realizing is that not all fat is the same.
You basically have two kinds of fat – subcutaneous (the fat under your skin that you can pinch) and visceral (the kind that surrounds your organs) fat.
Abdominal fat locations
While excess subcutaneous fat can keep us from looking the way we want and raise the pounds that we have to carry around everyday (which has obvious effects on the way we feel), research is showing that the visceral fat actually increases our risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, renal disease, cancer, blood clots and inflammatory conditions. Visceral fat produces the hormone, adiponectin, which is thought to change our cells typical response to insulin. It also produces immune system chemicals like tumor necrosis factor and interleukin 6 that can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing insulin resistance and low-level chronic inflammation – that sounds pretty angry!
So what are we to do about this angry fat? Is liposuction the answer? Interestingly, one study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that liposuction of up to 23 pounds of subcutaneous fat in 15 obese women had no effect on their blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar. On the other hand, in working with patients through Ideal Health NOW (www.idealhealthnow.com) – Ideal Protein weight loss program, I have seen a profound positive impact on those health measures – often way before they reach their goal weight. This is mainly because by significantly lowering intake of carbohydrates and maintaining muscle mass with adequate protein, fat (and especially abdominal “angry” fat because of lower circulating insulin levels) is targeted! On a personal note, not only did I get my waist back and feel great after losing 12 pounds in 6 weeks with Ideal Protein, but my blood pressure went from 140/90 to 110/70 and my cholesterol dropped from 210 to 170! I was an example of the 40% of normal weight people who have increased abdominal fat and thus metabolic dysfunction.
There are a variety of dietary programs designed to help reduce visceral and subcutaneous fat as well as shed unwanted pounds
– including Primal, Paleolithic, South Beach, Mediterranean and Ideal Protein. The basic premise is to increase whole foods, leaner meats, healthier fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats as in fatty fish, nuts, sunflower and flax seeds, olive, grapeseed and safflower oils) and decrease processed foods, simple carbs (white bread, rice, pasta) and sugary drinks and foods. For me, and I know many others, the benefit of the Ideal Protein plan is the consistency/ efficiency of results, the coaching support, the lack of extra weight loss supplements or hormones (“fix a problem that began with food with food”) and for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen – it’s relatively easy! The bottom line is – find a diet you love and stick with it!
Exercise also helps.
Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise and weight training are helpful for preventing or reducing visceral fat development. Improvement has been seen with as little as 30 minutes a day. Be aware though that spot exercising like sit ups can tighten abdominal muscles but won’t get to visceral fat. You can read more details of these studies at http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it.htm.